Selling tickets has been a major problem for the Jaguars in recent years. Although the team managed to avoid a television blackout last year, it still failed to sell out a single game. The year prior, only one home game was shown on television because the team couldn't sell enough tickets to cover the NFL's blackout rule.
This, of course, has led to speculation that the city of Jacksonville would lose its Jaguars, the only professional sports team it has. The concerns are valid, and they've attracted national media attention. Some outlets have suggested the Jacksonville metro area is too small to support an NFL team -- that the Jaguars will be forced to jump ship and move to L.A. or another large market.
Although Jacksonville is one of the largest cities on the east coast with nearly 800,000 residents, its metro area is quite small by NFL standards. It has approximately 1.3 million people. The only NFL team with a smaller market is the Green Bay Packers, a franchise with a history so rich it's embedded into Wisconsin culture. Thus, the Packers have no trouble selling tickets, and no trouble generating revenue.
The Jaguars, on the other hand, do not have such a luxury.
The situation is complicated further by a lack of progress in the NFL's negotiations with its players' union. If no agreement is reached, there will be no 2011 NFL season. The likelihood of losing an entire season is slim, but the possibility of some games being cancelled due to the expired collective bargaining agreement remains strong.
The Jaguars have done their best to increase consumer confidence, even promising fans a refund on their season ticket accounts for games that are cancelled.
According to Jaguars Senior VP Macky Weaver, season ticket sales are within a few hundred of the total at this time last year, despite the uncertainty regarding the 2011 season.
Let's hope the team is able to sustain itself in our city. In many ways, being an NFL city has put Jacksonville on the map. Hosting an NFL team opens the door for revenue, real estate, and even helps attract businesses. There are other benefits as well. For example, Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver and his foundation have donated over $50 million to various Jacksonville based non-profit organizations since coming here in 1995.