Oh they still have fans, I didn’t know thatâ€, is one of the top responses I receive after announcing I’m a Jaguars fan. Okay I’ll admit Jacksonville has a difficult time filling up their stadium but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of J-A-G-U-A-R-S fans out there! Jacksonville Municipal Stadium is one of the largest in the NFL at 67,000 seats. Jacksonville Municipal Stadium was built to also accommodate the annual Florida-Georgia game and the Gator Bowl. Jacksonville has many factors that lead to the low number of ticket sales, but the most influential is the location.
For the 2011 season, Jacksonville is making a big push to sell Jaguars season tickets. With the lockout taking up most of the summer, there is little time to sell the season tickets necessary to guarantee no blackouts in Jacksonville this season. The Jaguars must sell 400 tickets per day, through their first home preseason game August 19th, against the Atlanta Falcons.
Macky Weaver of the Jaguars said, “We need you now, we need your help.” That’s 17,000 tickets in a short amount of time. Since the end of the lockout the Jaguars been averaging sales of just over 200 tickets per day. “We’re going to scratch and claw and do whatever we need to do,” Weaver said.
Jacksonville is the second smallest market in the league, behind Green Bay, with just over 800,000 residents. Not only is it a small market but Florida already has two other NFL teams, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers & Miami Dolphins. Since Jacksonville is near the Florida-Georgia border they are also influenced by the Atlanta Falcons. Florida also has a major fan base for college football with the Florida State Seminoles, Florida Gators, Miami Hurricanes and we can’t forget about my alma mater the University of South Florida. In comparison to Green Bay, who has tradition, won Super Bowl titles & built a substantial fan base; they lack the competition of other teams in the area.
In 2009 the Jaguars had to blackout most of their home games. However, Tampa Bay, Dallas, Detroit, Oakland, Buffalo and San Diego all had games blacked out in the last two season as well. Over the last 5 years the Jaguars averaged a ranking of 19 of 32 NFL teams as far as attendance. Since Jacksonville is in a smaller market they do not receive the same coverage as teams from New York & Chicago. And let’s face it; very few people are actually native to Florida. Most move there from other states, but that doesn’t mean they stop routing for their hometown teams. Most Jaguar fans must be created young or converted over time. My younger brother has been an avid Jaguars fan since moving to Florida in 1995; at the age of 4. That only makes him 20 years old now. Still being a college student, he isn’t able to afford the price of regular tickets, let alone season tickets.
The media perceives Jacksonville fans as fair weathered but they do not take into account all the avid fans that have been around since 1995. Idolizing the Jaguars is something my brother has done for most of his life. As a child he would make us wait around to see his favorite player, wide receiver, Jimmy Smith as he exited the stadium. He has a countless number of signed footballs & jerseys from the players and coaches. Every game you attend at EverBank field will be filled with Jaguar spirit. Between the “Move those chains, Move those chains, Move those chains, HHHUHH” chant or our mascot, Jackson de Ville running through the end zone cheering J-A-G-U-A-R-S, it is clear that Jacksonville has a loyal fan base.
Every year there is talk of the Jaguars moving to a new city such as Los Angeles.
“I was reading a story today about the new stadium in L.A. and there were two teams mentioned as possibly going to L.A. and the Jaguars weren’t initially mentioned, but they were a possibility if we go back to having games blacked out,” said former Jaguars player, Tony Boselli.
Season tickets for the Jaguars can be purchased online, by telephone or at the ticket office. The ticket office is open at EverBank field Monday-Friday from 9-7 and Saturdays 9-2. Last night the Jaguars hosted the first ever “Select-Your-Seats” event from 4-9pm where fans would test drive their seats for the season. This program will continue every Saturday throughout August from 9-2pm. Fans that have already purchased season tickets have begun to receive their Teal Deals coupon books that include about $3,000 in savings at area businesses.
“I think a bunch of fans were waiting until the ink was on the paper before committing to season tickets,” said Owner Wayne Weaver. “We made a statement last year. We don’t want to go back to the talk of whether or not Jacksonville is an NFL town,” said Weaver, “If we continue that momentum we can show the importance of this team to this city.”
Now all the Jaguars need is a chance to prove they are contenders to win the AFC South with all their loyal fans there to cheer them on every step of the way! J-A-G-U-A-R-S!