As I write, I am sitting in the Champaign Public Library in Champaign, Illinois. Champaign and Urbana share the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, the alma mater of Shahid Khan and home of his multi-billion dollar company Flex-N-Gate. I bring this up because of the potential impact Khan has in spreading the Jaguars base as the owner.
Champaign and Urbana are 135 miles south of Chicago, 124 miles west of Indianapolis, and 178 miles north east of St. Louis. I’m certain there are fans of the Rams (A team he tried to purchase a stake of before the Jaguars), Bears, and Colts among the 120,000 people in the cities. Why shouldn’t some of them become Jaguars fans?
Khan has had a profound impact on the cities of Champaign and Urbana. Downstairs from where I am writing, the checkout proudly proclaims “Ann and Shahid Khan CHECKOUT” and a few feet from that their names are prominently displayed on a list of donors. Khan is a distinguished alumnus of Illinois and has helped to turn the city into an important center for the automotive industry with his company that supplies bumpers to Toyota.
It is important for the owner of a football team to reach out to the community. An owner that wins over the fanbase can promote and fortify strong ticket sales. The owner can also make the team a cemented part of the locality by doing work for the community and hosting events for the surrounding area. Khan has done this and is working to make the Jaguars already stellar local image even better.
But Khan has a reach that extends far beyond Jacksonville. He also has a reach to America’s heartland. Here in Champaign he has a little slice of support for his endeavors. He has helped to make the area richer, more noticeable nationally (if a “Public Ivy” needs any more notoriety), and he has a firm grasp on what matters: outreach.
We all know that Khan is a good guy and has made a positive name for himself. However, it took me a trip across the nation to discover that his reach will be far greater than I imagined. Who knows, maybe we’ll be stealing some Colts fans away from mid-Illinois this season!
- Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims