It's one of the most talked about topics at the water cooler - the Jaguars - and their ticket sales woes. It seems every national media outlet has had at least one writer take a shot at Jacksonville for the lack of ticket sales. Today, Metro Jacksonville concludes its seven part series discussing the Jaguars and the Jacksonville Market, and how they compare to other NFL cities.
An Overview of the Series
Part 1 How Jacksonville became an NFL city
Part 2 NFL Economics: Whats changed since 1995?
Part 3 Jaguars on the Field: How do we compare?
Part 4 Jacksonville and College Football
Part 5 Jacksonville vs. Other Small Markets
Part 6 NFL Relocations and the LA Stadium Plan
Part 7 What does the future hold?
2009 Season wrap-up
Despite losing their last four games, the Jaguars 7-9 finish was at the high end of most analysts expectations. To be in playoff contention on the last day of the regular season (even though a ridiculous chain of events would have had to occur, even if they won) surprised nearly everyone. Running Back Maurice Jones-Drew silenced all of the critics that said he couldnt withstand the beating of a feature back. With the season in the books, the Jaguars 2009 draft class is considered one of the best in the league, particularly the middle of the draft, with Derek Cox, Terrance Knighton, and Mike Thomas all considered steals in the third (Cox and Knighton) and fourth (Thomas) rounds.
What still needs work?
The biggest gaps are on defense, as seen by the score 31 points and lose performance against the Colts. For yet another season, the Jaguars failed to get any real pressure on opposing quarterbacks, and while the cornerbacks (Rashean Mathis and Derek Cox) have solid years (Mathis game at Seattle notwithstanding), the play at safety left a lot to be desired. On the offensive side of the ball, pass protection was spotty but did improve later in the year, which can be attributed to the two rookie lineman (Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton) getting some experience under their belt.
What about the Quarterback?
On paper, Quarterback David Garrard had an average year. He seemed to be a Jekell and Hyde type player for most of 2009; at points looking brilliant, and at times looking awful. At this point, whatever the Jaguars do (or dont do) in the 2010 draft at the quarterback position wouldnt surprise me.
Changes for 2010 and beyond
For 2010, the Jaguars made a number of significant changes to their ticket plans, among other things. Here are the high points:
Lower Ticket Prices
The Skinny: The Jaguars reduced two sections in the upper level from $390 to $300 per season (from $39 to $30 per game), and four sections in the lower level from $580 to $480 per season (From $58 to $48 per game). They also reduced some club seats by $300 per season as well.
Metro Jacksonvilles Opinion: Pretty generous, but can they sustain this? Obviously, someone paying $300 per season is better than the $0 that they got for many seats this season, but there are a lot of reasons associated with NFL economics as to why the Jaguars ticket prices are where they are, and why they dont price the empty seats at $10 just to fill them. The team already is ranked 30th in ticket prices. However, nothing speaks like a sale, and fans are likely to react in a positive way.
Eight Month Plan
The Skinny: Season ticket holders in the club seats and general bowl can spread their payments across eight interest-free payments automatically billed to their bank account or their credit card.
MJs Opinion: This is not a huge change, since theyve had interest-free plans in the past. But its still a very good option for the fans and the automatic deductions from the credit card is unique in the NFL, as many teams dont accept credit cards at all (while the Jaguars choose to eat between $750,000 and $1 million in credit card fees every year).
The Skinny: If Season Ticket holders can choose to commit to three seasons (30 games), they are guaranteed that prices will remain at 2010 levels through the 2012 season, and they can pay in 30 equal, interest-free payments.
MJs Opinion: This is something that is long overdue. About seven years ago, the team got rid of three year contracts to attract more season ticket holders. However this created a problem, as it gave the fans the option of not renewing after each season. One of the biggest reasons that 17,000 people didnt renew their tickets after 2008: they chose not to. In many markets, they could have been throwing away the opportunity to get season tickets for a decade or more. Now, the team is creating a base of season ticket holders that they dont have to chase down each season to renew, thereby guaranteeing revenue, and freeing up their sales department to focus on other things.
The Fuel Gauge
The Skinny: On Jaguars.com, there is now a gauge on the right hand of the site that tells you, to the number, how many people renewed, how many new sales there are, and how many is left to sell out the general bowl.
MJs Opinion: Wow. With the exception of the Green Bay Packers, all NFL teams are privately held. It is very surprising how open the team is this year.
Declining the London Game
The Skinny: The Jaguars were offered the opportunity by the league to move this years home game against the Washington Redskins to London. This would have reduced the number of home games from 10 to 9 and the prices of season tickets by 10%. Wayne Weaver declined, stating that it could be taken as a sign that his support for Jacksonville was wavering.
MJs Opinion: Can Wayne Weaver do anything more to affirm his support for the Jacksonville market? While it would be nice to get the team some national exposure, Mr. Weaver supports the loyal season ticket holders that have backed the team through thick and thin.
Tim Tebow - will the Jaguars draft him?
The Skinny: Who Knows? NFL teams are always very guarded about their draft prospects. We probably wont know anything until the draft.
MJs Opinion: The team, and General Manager Gene Smith, are pretty dedicated to the Best Available Player (BAP) ideology when it comes to drafting. This means that they will list every player that they look at (hundreds) on a board, ordered by their ranking of each. As players are drafted, they are crossed off the board, and when its their turn to draft, they pick the top name on the board (regardless of position), or trade down to recoup the value of the pick. I say they dont waiver on this philosophy when it comes to Tebow, and the concept of ticket sales will never enter the room.
Beyond 2010 - The Collective Bargaining Agreement
The Skinny: The current agreement between the owners and the players union expires at the end of 2010. So far, both sides have said that they arent close to a deal, which could lead to a lockout in 2011.
MJs Opinion: A lockout of any kind is bad for all involved.
The purpose of this series was to illustrate for the casual fan the problems that the Jaguars have in the Jacksonville market. Is this a viable pro market? We shall see. Just like the blackouts of 2009 dont mean its not viable, a sold out 2010 doesnt necessarily mean that it is viable.
Overall, many of the articles that we write on Metro Jacksonville are designed to encourage action led by the city. This series on the other hand was designed to show that the future of the Jaguars does not lie with the city, but with the people of Jacksonville. Its time to decide do we want to be a pro city or not?
Article by Steve Congro