FanDuel - WFBC

September 22, 2009

'NFL Has No Business Being in Jacksonville': Times are tough for the Jacksonville Jaguars, both on and off the field. The 0-2 team drew 46,520 fans for the home opener Sunday, almost 20,000 below capacity, and most of them were long gone by the final play of the game the Arizona Cardinals led 31-3 before two late Jag TDs. Local columnist Gene Frenette said the TV blackout was a blessing. Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports writes, "Jacksonville as a viable professional sports market isn't going to end well. Not enough people live in Jacksonville to support a big NFL franchise through thick and thin."

posted by rcade to football at 02:34 PM - 30 comments

I don't believe it is the size of the market. A team can't afford to stink until they have an incredibly loyal fanbase. Jacksonville doesn't.

posted by bperk at 03:01 PM on September 22

"Jacksonville is the principal city in the Greater Jacksonville Metropolitan Area, a region with a population of more than 1,313,228."

Rough rule of thumb from my Economics of Sport class back in the day was one million people per Big Four* professional sports team, so I doubt this is true. All teams go through bad periods and teams in smaller markets go through them more often. It's nothing notable except the team hasn't been around very long, so the local columnists don't know better.

* It was 1992 and upstate New York, so you can forgive the professor for thinking the NHL was a major sport. Also, there are any number of exceptions to the rule, I know, thanks.

posted by yerfatma at 03:13 PM on September 22

I think the size of the market matters. Detroit sucks, has for a long time. Yet for their home opener I believe they still sold out so the game wasn't blacked out.

In fact, it wasn't until Detroit stopped winning games period that the games stopped selling out. The Lions haven't won in a long time, but blackouts had been few and far between until last year.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 03:22 PM on September 22

Jacksonville's population is spread out over an entire county -- the city annexed all of it -- which gives it the largest land area of any city in the U.S. So the team's based in a county of 880,000 with another half million in surrounding counties.

Since Florida's been one of the worst-hit states in the recession and Jacksonville was a tough market before then, things look bleak here. The team is probably going 0-3 after playing the Texans next weekend, head coach Jack Del Rio probably won't survive another losing season and the owner is a cheapskate who doesn't like to spend money on free agents.

I don't think the Jags lack a loyal fanbase. Local radio is filled with callers who care about the 15-year-old team. But there's just not enough people here to sustain it.

My guess is that they're in LA within five years and my town goes back to obsessing over the Gators, Noles and NASCAR.

posted by rcade at 03:30 PM on September 22

My guess is that they're in LA within five years and my town goes back to obsessing over the Gators, Noles and NASCAR.

It's simply amazing the hold college sports, especially football has over north west florida/ alabama. Professional football could vanish, and it wouldn't make a difference. No one here cares about any professional football team in florida. Part of that has to do with distance. We're closer to New Orleans. But Still...

posted by justgary at 03:40 PM on September 22

* It was 1992 and upstate New York, so you can forgive the professor for thinking the NHL was a major sport. Also, there are any number of exceptions to the rule, I know, thanks.

Ooh, you are asking for a high sticking!

posted by wfrazerjr at 03:45 PM on September 22

My guess is that they're in LA within five years and my town goes back to obsessing over the Gators, Noles and NASCAR.

LA had lots of blackouts when they had a team. Additionally, the city is always pushing the Coliseum, which is not viable. I think LA will continue to be used to hold cities hostage to benefit the teams and their stadium deals.

The Bucs had blackouts for years and years. They were bad, relatively new, and didn't have a loyal fanbase. That didn't change until they started having success year after year. Green Bay is smaller than Jacksonville, but they have a loyal, fan base built over a long time. In baseball, the Nationals are having lots of trouble selling tickets to their games in DC. This isn't because the area is too small. It is a combination of a team being very bad and not having been around long enough to build a loyal fanbase.

Also, I don't think you can underestimate the effect the economy is having. Jacksonville may be suffering the worse, but they aren't alone.

posted by bperk at 04:20 PM on September 22

Looking at a map, it seems to me that the Jag's just don't have the extended drawing area to pull from. To the south and southwest they have Miami and Tampa. Both established teams with loyal customer bases. To the north they have Atlanta and Carolina, I know Atlanta is more established, assume Carolina is as well. Hard to believe that someone in Alabama is going to care too much about Jacksonville, so it really comes down to just the local area. It's not enough.

If you look at smaller market teams like Green Bay, or the Vikings (not as small I realize, but hardly a top market) you'll see that they pull a lot of fans from hundreds of miles away. The Packers pull from the entire state of WI, and the Vikes get many fans from the Dakota's as well as all of MN. Jacksonville just doesn't have that going for it. The strength of the college football programs in that area certainly doesn't help.

Add in the economy, and the fact that the team stinks, I can see why they struggle to fill the seats.

posted by dviking at 05:56 PM on September 22

I like the Jags and they have done very well over the years IMO. They and the Panthers were in their respective conference title games in a remarkably short time after entering the league.

I was surprised and delighted that the league awarded a franchise to Jacksonville to begin with. I hope they find a way to regroup and stay put.

I can't tell if the league is truly committed to the prospect of having a team in LA. Sometimes they don't act as though they are.

If Neuheisel re-makes UCLA into a competitive program again, between them and USC, that's probably enough quality football to satisfy the LA area.

Mark Brunell is still in the league, holding for PAT's in NOLA. The way Drew Brees is going and the way the Bucs are going this season, Brunell will probably be on the field more than Byron Leftwich will.

posted by beaverboard at 06:43 PM on September 22

My guess is that they're in LA within five years

No thank you.

posted by cjets at 06:57 PM on September 22

The Packers pull from the entire state of WI,

They also draw a large section of Michigan's northern peninsula.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 07:33 PM on September 22

My guess is that they're in LA within five years

No thank you.

Okay. Well LA can take the Rams back and let the Jags move to St. Louis. Which is where the NFL should have added that expansion team in the first place.

posted by BoKnows at 09:21 PM on September 22

Well LA can take the Rams back

The Rams are bought and paid for, my friend. Enjoy 'em cause they ain't coming back here.

posted by cjets at 09:24 PM on September 22

They also draw a large section of Michigan's northern peninsula.

Dude, just give us the UP. You can keep the mitten.

posted by tron7 at 10:07 PM on September 22

For as long as Oswald's Bear Ranch remains in business I refuse.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 10:24 PM on September 22

I am an original season ticket holder, and remember very fondly where I was when the franchise was awarded to Jacksonville. I've since moved to Ohio (family and job) but kept my season tickets eventhough it's tough for me to make any games (I usually give them away to friends in the area). I kept them because I feel that I can afford them and it's four more tickets that are going to be sold for each game. It saddens me terribly the national media's spotlight on us in such a negative fashion. Though, it's hard to agrue about what happened on opening weekend there is a lot of inaccurate facts out there.

First, the covering of the seats. The remodel of the Gator Bowl was just too big for the city (they left it that size for special events such as the Super Bowl-which we already knew we were getting, and the Georgia-Florida game). The actual capacity of 66+ puts it dead center in the middle of all NFL stadiums regardless of market size. The covering of those seats only made us a normal size stadium not some puny sized one that some think it did.

Second, with the exception of opening day this year, the Jaguars have sold well. On Big Cat Country (a Jags blog) it was shown that the Jaguars actually finished in the top 10 of ticket sales last year and in the top 10 averaged over the last 5 years. We even outsold the Steelers!!! Yet (and rightfully so, since the Steelers have some of the most loyal fans around) you don't hear people clamoring for the Steelers to move to LA. In per person sales only the Packers draw better, but that doesn't make good copy.

Third, the blackouts. Yeah, this year is going to be tough, but it is for a lot of teams. 12 teams are going to have multiple blackouts, yet only Jacksonville gets mentioned. The local franchise here (the Bungels) just had their consecutive sell out streak end and would have been blacked out for their opener if not for some local businesses buying up the last several thousand tickets and giving them away to military personnel.

In conclusion, national media, football is not dead in Jacksonville, not even on life support, and 10 years from now you'll be doing stories about how Green Bay and Jacksonville are the two most successful franchises in football eventhough they are both small markets, while cities with 5 to 10 times their size struggle (at least I hope--I'm way too committed as is many to not go down without a fight/lol)

posted by jagsnumberone at 11:15 PM on September 22

Interesting take from a local , jags!

posted by jmd82 at 11:52 PM on September 22

National media - 0

SportsFilter - 1

Thanks, jags.

posted by JJ at 02:43 AM on September 23

To support jags's attendance statements, here's the 2008 attendance numbers. Though, not sure I put 100% faith in those numbers, considering they have Denver and SF at 0% home attendance.

posted by inigo2 at 08:03 AM on September 23

Published attendance figures in all American sports leagues are a complete joke. Allowing teams to distribute free tickets and count them in the attendance figure - whether those tickets were even used or not - means teams can effectively announce whatever figure they like.

posted by salmacis at 08:27 AM on September 23

it was shown that the Jaguars actually finished in the top 10 of ticket sales last year and in the top 10 averaged over the last 5 years. We even outsold the Steelers!!!

Explain? Does this mean total number of tickets sold because the Steelers have sold out every game since 1972 or is it because Jax has a larger stadium so sells more tickets.

posted by Debo270 at 08:39 AM on September 23

Amarillo, Tx will gladly take the Jags :-). They could play at Dick Bivin's Stadium.

posted by kerrycindy at 09:32 AM on September 23

Debo, it's exactly as you stated. Your stadium is smaller in capacity (even with our covered seats). I, no doubt, think the Steelers would sell even more tickets if the stadium was bigger--your fanbase is great. I was just showing how this writer and others see what they want to see.

posted by jagsnumberone at 10:54 AM on September 23

Thanks Jags, You are a true fan still keeping your tickets. I really thought with a healthy O-line, they would be strong again. Keep the faith

posted by Debo270 at 11:17 AM on September 23

Maybe I'm being too much of a pessimist, Jagsnumberone. I didn't realize our attendance last year was middle of the pack. I'm getting pretty tired of Jack of the River's coaching.

One question for you: When did the Jag fans' first down cheer start, and what are the words? (After every Jag first down, a bunch of fans stand up and cheer something like "move the chains, move the chains, move the chains, moo!")

posted by rcade at 12:21 PM on September 23

When did the Jag fans' first down cheer start, and what are the words?

You mean this year? As soon as they get one, I would uimagine. And I think the words will start off something like, "Our Father, Who art in heaven....."

(Don't get yer panties in a bunch, jags. Just picking on someone other than the Lions.)

posted by THX-1138 at 01:37 PM on September 23

rcade, do you think that season of "Hard Knocks" extended Del Rio's stint in Jacksonville by about 2 years? I remember watching that and thinking he was an awesome motivator. It wasn't until about last year (or whenever he got in a public pissing contest with his MLB) that I thought, "Maybe he's a dope."

posted by yerfatma at 02:18 PM on September 23

I think Del Rio bought himself extra years by reaching the playoffs two years ago and beating Pittsburgh. He has helped avoid culpability for poor performance by firing one or more assistant coaches after every season, but at this point I think he's a bad start away from getting fired.

Considering the number of offensive and defensive coordinators he has fired, it's a wonder he gets any applicants at all for those jobs. The really good ones would have to be idiotic to work for him.

posted by rcade at 06:20 PM on September 23

Why doesn't Toronto go after the Jags. And leave the Bills alone.

posted by dyams at 06:39 PM on September 23

Small market teams thrive in some places. I live in Indy and the stadium is always sold out. Indy is a little bigger than Jacksonville. Northern cities seem to have more loyal fan bases.

posted by Indysuburb at 08:38 PM on September 23

You're not logged in. Please log in or register.