By now most Jaguars fans have read or heard Wayne Weaver's response to the report, but if you haven't, here is part of it—
"I just wanted to, in light of all the reports that came out last night, to just clarify that I'm not selling the Jaguars. The team is not moving to L.A. (Los Angeles). I don't know how I can say that any more clearly than that. Everybody wants me to sit here and speculate on the future. I'm not going to speculate on the future. At some point maybe I would sell the team, but not now. Whatever happens in the future, I can assure you one thing: The Jaguars are going to be the Jacksonville Jaguars."
Although Wayne Weaver is certainly an honest and dedicated owner, it is ultimately up to the fans of the Jaguars to keep their team in town. Weaver has put together a very good front office and coaching staff, and has made winning a culture in Jacksonville, as the team hasn't had a losing season since 2003 in the parity-filled National Football League.
"It's a little bit frustrating when you think about how we've clearly demonstrated our commitment to this football team and to this community, by giving a lucrative contract to our coach, extending our quarterback to a long-term contract, spending freely in free agency, and extending a number of our core veteran players' contracts," said the Jaguars owner. "That's not the kind of activities you engage in if you're trying to sell a football team."
To put it simply, ticket sales will secure the future of this franchise. The Jaguars have one of the most affordable tickets in all of the NFL, and one of the best teams. Still, the team had to endure three blackouts a season ago. In a recent article by ESPN the Magazine, the Jaguars were ranked #9 in the nation out of 122 professional sports franchises.
The article ranked pro teams on eight categories which included ownership, winning, coaching, players, affordability, stadium experience, bang for the buck, and fan relations. Jacksonville was in the top ten in several categories, and the only category in which they were in the bottom half was fan relations, which the team was 80th.
"The Jags' one-two punch of price and performance was second to none in the NFL in 2007, kind of like that lethal running back tandem of Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor," said ESPN The Magazine's Jason Catania. "While the Colts edged the Jags in Bang for the Buck (No. 3 vs. No. 4), scoring tickets for Jacksonville Municipal costs just $49.38 (the league¹s third cheapest), a cool $21 less than average stubs went for in Indy."
With all apologies to Matt Jones, the Jaguars are behind the proverbial eight-ball in terms of where they stand with population and the potential revenue stream. Jacksonville has few large industries that are rooted locally, and that partially explains the Jaguars lack of interest for a naming-rights sponsor for Jacksonville Municipal Stadium. The city itself is made up of a majority of lower-income families, which makes it even tougher to sell premium seating for professional football. Add that to a franchise that's historically done a poor job of marketing outside of the immediate area and it's no wonder why the team struggles to get in the black.
One of the positives associated with Jacksonville is that it is one of the only markets in sports with just one professional team, so recreational revenue doesn't have to be split several ways. Perhaps the most important positive is the passion for Jaguars football that has seemed to cultivate in the area over the past several seasons. Jaguars football is a 365-day per year interest for those hardcore fans, and with the recent success of the team, there has been a buzz and greater interest among spectators.
The Jaguars are going to need those hardcore fans to carry the team over the next few years as the team is certainly void of much tradition, as many young people that grew up with the team need just a little more time before they're able to purchase tickets of their own.
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering multiple teams in the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie is a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports and Sirius NFL Radio, and has been featured on the NFL Network. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.
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