Pakistani American Buys American Football Team in $500 million Deal
By Riaz Haq
What is NFL? It is America's National Football League, the biggest sports franchise business in the world. It's much bigger the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket franchise which is much better known to South Asians. The IPL has particularly been in the news lately for its controversial exclusion of Pakistani cricket players. Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan, who criticized Pakistanis' exclusion from IPL, has come under attack by right-wing Hindu extremists who are rampaging through the streets in India, burning theaters screening Khan's latest movie.
Today's media reports indicate that a Pakistani-American Shahid Khan of Illinois is in $450-$750 million deal to buy the NFL team St. Louis Rams. The final price will depend on whether Khan gets 60% or 100% of the stake in the NFL franchise. Khan, 55, is the president of Flex-N-Gate Corp., an auto-parts manufacturer in Urbana, Illinois with $2 billion in annual revenue. He has lived in the Champaign-Urbana area for more than 40 years and is married with two adult children. Khan is a graduate of the School of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at the University of Illinois.
Flex-N-Gate employs over 9,500 people at 48 manufacturing and 9 product development and engineering facilities throughout Canada, the United States, Mexico, Argentina, and Spain. Khan, 55, and his wife, Ann Khan, live in Champaign. He has given millions of dollars to his alma mater, including funding a 2007 major expansion of the university’s tennis facilities — now called the Shahid and Ann Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex.
To put this deal in perspective for South Asian readers, " Mumbai Indians", the most expensive of the eight IPL franchises, was bought by Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambai for $112 million.
This season, each of the 32 NFL team owners were limited to $127m for their entire squad of players. That means some footballers are handsomely paid - Mr Brees, the star quarterback of the recent Superbowl winner the New Orleans Saints has a six years $60m contract. By contrast, the most expensive IPL players fetch less than a million dollar bids, which are still the highest in the world for cricket players.
In both IPL and NFL, the biggest source of revenue is the sale of television rights, followed by brand name merchandise sales, ticket sales and endorsement deals.
Shahid Khan is obviously an outstanding success story for Pakistani-Americans. Nationwide, Pakistani-Americans appear to be prospering. The US census calculated that mean household income in the United States in 2002 was $57,852 annually, while that for Asian households, which includes Pakistanis, was $70,047.
Hard numbers on how many people of Pakistani descent live in the United States do not exist, but a book published by Harvard University Press on charitable donations among Pakistani-Americans, “ Portrait of a Giving Community by Professor Adil Najam, puts the number around 500,000, with some 35 percent or more of them in the New York metropolitan area. Chicago has fewer than 100,000, while other significant clusters exist in California, Texas and Washington, DC.
New York Times estimate of 109,000 Pakistani-born American workers' occupations include salesmen, managers or administrators, drivers, doctors and accountants as the top five categories.
Pakistani-Americans political participation remains woefully inadequate. But there are some signs that it is starting to happen at various levels starting from local communities to state legislatures.