Don't blame the "greedy" ownership on this one. As noted earlier, the Jags organization is buying back tickets and begging for money from corporate partners just to keep the game on television. The team's ticket office is still posting ticket meters on its site to drum up interest and let fans know how many more tickets need to be sold to keep games on TV. Yes, the team raised average ticket prices 3.8% but, at less than $60, the team already has the lowest ticket prices in the league.
The team has tarped off seven sections and 9,700 seats each year since 2005.
Don't blame the fans, either ... unless they get really, really annoying about it. Fans citing financial hardship have every right to do so, but fans who point at the team's record and say "but they're losing" just don't get it. You know what other team loses? The Cleveland Browns, 10 out of the past dozen seasons since they returned to the league in 1999. You know who doesn't have home games blacked out? The Cleveland Browns. Know who else has spent the better part of the 2000s stinking on turf? The San Francisco 49ers, who haven't had a winning record since 2002. Know who else always sells out their games at a stadium a full 35 years older than Everbank Field? The San Francisco 49ers.
Jags fans are understandably prickly. Every time some town like, oh, Los Angeles decides it wants to build a stadium and poach a team, Jacksonville comes up on the list as easy pickings. Why? Because it's a small market without a whole lot of hometown corporate sponsorship that feels just a little put out about being squeezed for ticket money when it already paid $60 million of the $134 million costs of building an NFL stadium. How is that fan base realistically supposed to invest big season-ticket sales into that team when the NFL does nothing to assure them their team won't be taken away just because Los Angeles, Chula Vista or Vancouver decided they want to get in the game?This leads the Jags, their ticket office and their fans back to the root of all blackout problems: the NFL itself. The league continues to stand by its blackout policy, saying it drives ticket sales. Thus far this season, it really seems to do wonders for tickets being sold for 34 cents on the dollar. If Jaguars fans want the rest of the NFL and its fans to stop talking about their team's blackout problems or a potential move, a good first step might be to appeal to owner Wayne Weaver (because that's what the NFL is, a collection of owners with Roger Goodell as its mouthpiece) to push for the lockout rule's reversal. Failing that, fans might want to turn to Jaguars buyback partner Anheuser-Busch InBev or other official NFL sponsors such as Pepsi (PEP), Papa John's (PZZA) or FedEx (FDX). When the NFL blacks out games, it takes eyes off of those companies' ads and even more dollar out of their pockets. If A-B is buying leftover tickets, that's a good sign the blackouts are something they'd hope to avoid. Convince enough well-heeled NFL backers likewise and more buybacks, if not a discussion about the league's blackout policy, may keep more home games on the air in Jacksonville or elsewhere. -- Written by Jason Notte in Boston.
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