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Orlando media wants Jacksonville's Jaguars

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SPORTS COMMENTARY: MIKE BIANCHI

Orlando Jaguars? City can't afford not to be serious

Mike Bianchi

December 13, 2004

JACKSONVILLE -- Maybe Wayne Weaver was just spouting off in a fit of anger.

Or maybe he wasn't.

And if he wasn't, Orlando's city leaders better be ready to pounce like a starving, um, Jaguar.

In a disagreement recently with Jacksonville city officials over who controls electronic advertising at Alltel Stadium, Weaver, the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, reportedly became so frustrated that he threatened to move the franchise.

Are you listening, Mayor Buddy Dyer? Are you listening, Orange County Chairman Rich Crotty?

There's an NFL owner two hours away who's irked enough to have at least pondered the possibility of moving his team. And even if Weaver isn't serious about it; Orlando officials should act as if he is.

Set up a meeting with Weaver. Drive up to Jacksonville and talk to him. Court him. Let him know that if those ingrates in Jacksonville don't appreciate everything he's done, Orlando is here for him.

Wayne, my man, we'll not only build you a new football stadium, you can have every last dollar of revenue reaped from every type of advertising imaginable -- electronic, supersonic, audiotronic or, for that matter, philharmonic. Tell you what, we'll even throw in some of the Magic's advertising revenue, too.

When the subject of moving to Orlando was broached after the Jaguars' 22-3 victory over the Chicago Bears Sunday, Weaver denied he's ever had any serious thoughts of re-locating.

"I would never consider moving the Jaguars," Weaver said. "And that includes to Los Angeles, Orlando or anywhere."

OK, let's give Weaver the benefit of the doubt and say he made the idle threat to re-locate in an emotional moment. It shouldn't matter. This is still to a perfect time for Orlando to cultivate a relationship with Weaver. He has become one of the NFL's movers and shakers, and if Orlando is ever going to land an NFL franchise, it will only come with Weaver's blessing.

Besides, who's to say Weaver won't change his mind someday and consider moving the Jaguars? He's obviously having issues with city leaders, and he can't help but be disappointed with fan support.

Even though the Jags have been playoff contenders for the entire season, all but two of their home games have been blacked out due to poor ticket sales. It was slightly more than a decade ago when Jacksonville was awarded an expansion franchise, and Weaver oozed optimism then.

"It's about passion; it's about a hot market, it's about a growing market," Weaver said at the time. "This is not about today. It is about 10 years from now, what Jacksonville will be like in 10 years."

Ten years later, Jacksonville's population has grown, but its passion for the Jaguars has shrunk. This used to be known as Jag-sonville; now it's Sag-sonville. The crowds have sagged to a point where 10,000 empty seats are commonplace.

Orlando needs to extend a hand toward Weaver instead of sitting on its hands. Remember what former mayor Glenda Hood said when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were involved in contentious stadium talks a few years ago and threatened to move? She said it would be "inappropriate" for Orlando to try to steal the Bucs from neighboring Tampa Bay.

Furthermore, Hood observed then, "I think we're being used as a community."

So what?

Jacksonville got used for years before it finally landed an NFL franchise. In this game, there is no shame.

We love you, Wayne.

We need you, Wayne.

And, one other thing, Wayne:

If you bring a Super Bowl to Orlando, we even have enough hotel rooms so that Commissioner Tagliabue won't have to bunk down on the deck of the SS Minnow.

Mike Bianchi can be reached at [email protected]

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SPORTS COMMENTARY: DAVID WHITLEY

Jags' tarp plan can't cover city's shortcomings

David Whitley

December 16, 2004

JACKSONVILLE -- Honey, they shrunk the stadium.

With a wave of his magic tarp, Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver made 10,000 seats disappear from Alltel Stadium on Wednesday. Actually, he merely announced that many seats will no longer exist for NFL games. In their place will be a tarp, or some sort of covering.

"It will be tastefully done," Weaver said.

They could make the tarp out of 10,000 mannequins, and it wouldn't hide the painful truth -- Jacksonville is not an NFL city.

Well, it is because it has a team. It's had one since Paul Tagliabue made the expansion announcement on Nov. 12, 1993, at 4:12 p.m.

Such minutiae used to matter around here, which explains why 1,500 fans showed up to watch the team's first workout. It consisted of 15 offensive linemen stretching. Tom Coughlin tried to fine every fan for being only five minutes early. All of them would have gladly paid.

Back then, you couldn't swing a dead possum without hitting a fan wearing a Tony Boselli jersey. But Jacksonville getting an NFL team was like Jeff Foxworthy winning an Oscar. It never seemed quite right, and Weaver's announcement was essentially an admission.

The league expected too much out of Jacksonville, and Jacksonville promised too much.

This is the NFL, not the MLS. Not every team sells out. But none has to cover seats to hide a lack of fans.

"It really fits our community, as far as how we balance supply and demand," Weaver said.

He pointed out most newer NFL stadiums seat about 65,000, and this move will simply bring Alltel Stadium in line with them.

More important is population.

To sell out their stadiums, the other AFC South teams only sell a ticket to one out of every 33 people in their drawing areas. Of course, they also have more competition for the entertainment dollar.

The Jaguars need to sell a ticket to every 15th person in a five-county region, Weaver said. But they own Jacksonville, and the demographic dilemma had been there from the start.

The NFL wanted to explore/plunder new markets, however. It chose Jacksonville over St. Louis and Baltimore, neither of which has had a game blacked out since it got back a team.

Almost all of Jacksonville's games have been blacked out the past few years. That's what prompted the tarp redecoration. Instead of 59,000 tickets, the Jags will only have to sell 49,000 non-premium seats in order to have their games shown on local TV.

"If I made one mistake," Weaver said, "it was not doing this sooner."

No, his biggest mistake was thinking Jacksonville's passion would make up for its population. Having grown up in Jacksonville, I don't blame him for that assumption. Jacksonville was a nice enough place to live, but it had a major inferiority complex.

Part of that was due to years of cheap shots about "Eau de Paper Mill" being the city's official perfume, and people having nothing to do except drive around in their pickups listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd. That was not true because we also listened to Molly Hatchett.

The NFL was the ticket out of Palookaville, but the euphoria vanished as the team went bad. That's no longer a good excuse.

Jacksonville is one of the NFL's most exciting young teams, yet season tickets have dropped from over 50,000 to 39,000 this year. Tampa Bay claims to have 110,000 people on its waiting list just to buy season tickets.

Too bad Weaver can't sell those 10,000 seats to Malcolm Glazer. It's obvious the Jaguars will perpetually struggle for sellouts, but at least there's now hope.

They can always buy a bigger tarp.

David Whitley can be reached at 407-420-6131 or at [email protected]

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SPORTS COMMENTARY: DAVID WHITLEY

Jags' tarp plan can't cover city's shortcomings

David Whitley

They could make the tarp out of 10,000 mannequins, and it wouldn't hide the painful truth -- Jacksonville is not an NFL city.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Are these guys really serious? I assume they're joking, because attendance at Alltel, this year places the Jags in the upper half of the league, despite being the second smallest market.

rank - city - total home attendance number - average attendance per home game

1. Washington - 625,794 (89,399)

2. NY Giants - 472,538 (78,756)

3. Kansas City - 468,019 (78,003)

4. NY Jets - 467,312 (77,885)

5. Denver - 525,882 (75,126)

6. Carolina - 512,957 (73,279)

7. Cleveland - 512,351 (73,193)

8. Miami - 434,010 (72,335)

9. Buffalo - 500,985 (71,569)

10. Houston - 494,468 (70,638)

11. Atlanta - 493,984 (70,569)

12. Green Bay - 493,963 (70,566)

13. Jacksonville - 489,237 (69,891)

14. Baltimore - 488,751 (69,821)

15. Tennessee - 413,592 (68,932)

16. New England - 481,292 (68,756)

17. Philadelphia - 406,073 (67,678)

18. Seattle - 400,871 (66,811)

19. St. Louis - 395,378 (65,896)

20. Cincinnati - 394,264 (65,710)

21. Tampa Bay - 392,265 (65,377)

22. San Fransico - 389,313 (64,885)

23. Minnesota - 448,658 (64,094)

24. New Orleans - 448,278 (64,039)

25. Dallas - 447,187 (63,883)

26. Pittsburgh - 443,158 (63,308)

27. Detroit - 374,901 (62,483)

28. Chicago - 371,387 (61,897)

29. San Diego - 420,542 (60,077)

30. Indianapolis - 342,221 (57,036)

31. Oakland - 320,525 (53,420)

32. Arizona - 228,547 (38,091)

link:

2004 NFL attendance numbers by ESPN

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I think the Jaguars are wasting an opportunity by just covering up the seats. Why not give them away in a promotion that creates goodwill in the community. You figure there are 10,000 seats and 8 home games (not including pre-season), so they have to give away 80,000 tickets. Why not offer a free ticket (while supplies last) to any kid that gets all A's and B's on their report card or to low-income families who otherwise would not attend.

Also, I think the blackout rule is dumb. Is anyone really suprised that interest has fallen after almost every home game has been blacked-out the last few years? It seems like rather than motivating people to buy tickets, the blackouts just cause people to lose interest and quit following the team, which is a shame and totally counterproductive.

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This obviously would not make sense because the Jacksonville has decent attendance. We are a small market that is only growing. Because of the Florida-georgia, Gator Bowl, and future ACC Championship games, our stadium is huge relative to other markets. It just is not sensible to move the Jaguars.

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SPORTS COMMENTARY: MIKE BIANCHI

Orlando Jaguars? City can't afford not to be serious

Mike Bianchi

December 13, 2004

JACKSONVILLE -- Maybe Wayne Weaver was just spouting off in a fit of anger.

Or maybe he wasn't.

And if he wasn't, Orlando's city leaders better be ready to pounce like a starving, um, Jaguar.

In a disagreement recently with Jacksonville city officials over who controls electronic advertising at Alltel Stadium, Weaver, the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, reportedly became so frustrated that he threatened to move the franchise.

Are you listening, Mayor Buddy Dyer? Are you listening, Orange County Chairman Rich Crotty?

There's an NFL owner two hours away who's irked enough to have at least pondered the possibility of moving his team. And even if Weaver isn't serious about it; Orlando officials should act as if he is.

Set up a meeting with Weaver. Drive up to Jacksonville and talk to him. Court him. Let him know that if those ingrates in Jacksonville don't appreciate everything he's done, Orlando is here for him.

Wayne, my man, we'll not only build you a new football stadium, you can have every last dollar of revenue reaped from every type of advertising imaginable -- electronic, supersonic, audiotronic or, for that matter, philharmonic. Tell you what, we'll even throw in some of the Magic's advertising revenue, too.

When the subject of moving to Orlando was broached after the Jaguars' 22-3 victory over the Chicago Bears Sunday, Weaver denied he's ever had any serious thoughts of re-locating.

"I would never consider moving the Jaguars," Weaver said. "And that includes to Los Angeles, Orlando or anywhere."

OK, let's give Weaver the benefit of the doubt and say he made the idle threat to re-locate in an emotional moment. It shouldn't matter. This is still to a perfect time for Orlando to cultivate a relationship with Weaver. He has become one of the NFL's movers and shakers, and if Orlando is ever going to land an NFL franchise, it will only come with Weaver's blessing.

Besides, who's to say Weaver won't change his mind someday and consider moving the Jaguars? He's obviously having issues with city leaders, and he can't help but be disappointed with fan support.

Even though the Jags have been playoff contenders for the entire season, all but two of their home games have been blacked out due to poor ticket sales. It was slightly more than a decade ago when Jacksonville was awarded an expansion franchise, and Weaver oozed optimism then.

"It's about passion; it's about a hot market, it's about a growing market," Weaver said at the time. "This is not about today. It is about 10 years from now, what Jacksonville will be like in 10 years."

Ten years later, Jacksonville's population has grown, but its passion for the Jaguars has shrunk. This used to be known as Jag-sonville; now it's Sag-sonville. The crowds have sagged to a point where 10,000 empty seats are commonplace.

Orlando needs to extend a hand toward Weaver instead of sitting on its hands. Remember what former mayor Glenda Hood said when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were involved in contentious stadium talks a few years ago and threatened to move? She said it would be "inappropriate" for Orlando to try to steal the Bucs from neighboring Tampa Bay.

Furthermore, Hood observed then, "I think we're being used as a community."

So what?

Jacksonville got used for years before it finally landed an NFL franchise. In this game, there is no shame.

We love you, Wayne.

We need you, Wayne.

And, one other thing, Wayne:

If you bring a Super Bowl to Orlando, we even have enough hotel rooms so that Commissioner Tagliabue won't have to bunk down on the deck of the SS Minnow.

Mike Bianchi can be reached at [email protected]

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

YOU CAN'T HAVE THEM, YOU WON'T HAVE THEM, YOU WILL NOT TOUCH THEM, AND YOU NEED TO STOP! WE'RE SORRY ORLANDO HAS BECOME PITIFUL AND WANTON YEARNING FOR SOMETHING OTHER THAN DISNEY TO GIVE IT A SHOT IN THE ARM. LEAVE JAX AND THE JAGUARS ALONE!

FLORIDA SKYRISE

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I agree Skyrise. Orlando really needs to focus on what they have and in keeping the Magic. If they keep being so greedy, they may lose what they have.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Who is being greedy? This was one article by some reporter in the paper. Furthermore, no city makes it by sitting on their ass and doing nothing. I don't want JAX to loose the Jaguars because its Florida all the same, but I think its pretty dumb to assume that Orlando is "greedy" because they want everything that a major powerhouse city needs to be successful. You best start calling NY, Boston, Chi, SanFran greedy too.

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YOU CAN'T HAVE THEM, YOU WON'T HAVE THEM, YOU WILL NOT TOUCH THEM, AND YOU NEED TO STOP! WE'RE SORRY ORLANDO HAS BECOME PITIFUL AND WANTON YEARNING FOR SOMETHING OTHER THAN DISNEY TO GIVE IT A SHOT IN THE ARM. LEAVE JAX AND THE JAGUARS ALONE!

Is he banned yet? :unsure:

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Is he banned yet?  :unsure:

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

If anyone needs to be banned its the forum member of one Florida City trying to be greedy and take another Florida's City's team. It's apparent that the Orlando Media is trying in vain to lure the Jags away from Jax. Has Jax ever tried to lure or entice Disney so to speak away from Orlando? It can be done!

Why should I be banned for mandating that Orlando leave Jax alone? It is the truth. Yeah, as someone said, Jax is "sitting on their ass," but let Jax, its government, its people and the city and metro deal with this problem before the Orlando "wolves" pounce in salivating for the kill.

Please go to the Jax topic in this forum and read what I've said regarding Jax and the Jaguars; and see that I DON'T NEED TO BE BANNED!

FLORIDA SKYRISE

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Who is being greedy?  This was one article by some reporter in the paper.  Furthermore, no city makes it by sitting on their ass and doing nothing.  I don't want JAX to loose the Jaguars because its Florida all the same, but I think its pretty dumb to assume that Orlando is "greedy" because they want everything that a major powerhouse city needs to be successful.  You best start calling NY, Boston, Chi, SanFran greedy too.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Ok, maybe that was a little strong but I suggested this by what the reporter described. My bad. But, Jacksonville is doing better and is doing more to help the communtiy and liven our city. You should check out our developments going on in Jacksonville.

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Ok, maybe that was a little strong but I suggested this by what the reporter described. My bad. But, Jacksonville is doing better and is doing more to help the communtiy and liven our city. You should check out our developments going on in Jacksonville.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I follow closely the developments in JAX, and I think its awesome what is going on there. I disagree that they are doing "better" to liven the city but thats just based off my own experience.

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There are several things the Sentinel writer isn't telling you.

Weaver sold the NFL on Jacksonville's passion. But even back then he believed that a stadium of 73,000 was too large for the market. The city overruled him and built a larger facility to keep the Florida-Georgia game in town. Still the fans turned out to fill the stadium, exceeding Weaver's expectations.

Well, it turns out Weaver was right all along - Jacksonville is passionate about its Jaguars. After four consecutive losing seasons, they still increased their season ticket base over 2003, with close to 55,000 season ticket holders per game. With the team winning this year, the Jags are averaging almost 70,000 fans a game, more than Pittsburgh, more than New England....and more than Tampa Bay, which the writer held up as an example.

But it's also true that Alltel Stadium is too large for the market. Indeed, it's the fourth largest in the league. So covering up seats makes sense.

Whitley would have you believe that Jacksonville can't average 67,000 fans in the stands. They already are, sir.

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Thank you mwfsu for clearing that up. Great job. But the writers in Orlando are trying to lead everyone into believing that the fans are not supporting the Jax Jaguars which is a crock and bull story. Just a misleading half truth order of stories to somehow entice Mr. Weaver probably to leave Jax.....WON'T HAPPEN.

Mr. Weaver knows the truth. He knows Jax is a football town, maybe not like New York or some of the other NFL towns. Jacksonvillians have been known to be slow, not buying season tickets, but always showing up on game day; better late than never.

Go Jax!

FLORIDA SKYRISE

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Thank you mwfsu for clearing that up.  Great job.  But the writers in Orlando are trying to lead everyone into believing that the fans are not supporting the Jax Jaguars which is a crock and bull story.  Just a misleading half truth order of stories to somehow entice Mr. Weaver probably to leave Jax.....WON'T HAPPEN.

Mr. Weaver knows the truth.  He knows Jax is a football town, maybe not like New York or some of the other NFL towns.  Jacksonvillians have been known to be slow, not buying season tickets, but always showing up on game day; better late than never.

Go Jax!

FLORIDA SKYRISE

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

One good thing about Mr. Weaver as I have said before is that he is an owner that gets involved in the community. He loves what the community has done and would do anything to keep them here.

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If anyone needs to be banned its the forum member of one Florida City trying to be greedy and take another Florida's City's team.  It's apparent that the Orlando Media is trying in vain to lure the Jags away from Jax.  Has Jax ever tried to lure or entice Disney so to speak away from Orlando?  It can be done!

Why should I be banned for mandating that Orlando leave Jax alone?  It is the truth.  Yeah, as someone said, Jax is "sitting on their ass," but let Jax, its government, its people and the city and metro deal with this problem before the Orlando "wolves" pounce in salivating for the kill.

Please go to the Jax topic in this forum and read what I've said regarding Jax and the Jaguars; and see that I DON'T NEED TO BE BANNED!

FLORIDA SKYRISE

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Insecure much? You keep cowering and looking over that shoulder for big bad Orlando. :thumbsup: Wait.... did you hear that?! :o Better go hide under your bridge!

Has Jax ever tried to lure or entice Disney so to speak away from Orlando?  It can be done!

ROFL

What are you, 2? I'd love to see you put Disney World in the back of a U-Haul and move it to Jax. :rofl:

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Calm down people.

If you'll notice that the article is only a sports commentary(opinion) by Mike Bianchi.He is an ex FTU sports guy now with the Orlando paper.It is his job to sell papers.

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I seriously doubt that is going to happen now that FAMU is building there law school downtown. They are making a great investment in Orlando and its only the beginning.

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^Not to say that Jax will or will not go after that game, but as an alumnus of FAMU, the school is only concerned about who pays it the most money. When the lease is up, several cities will probably try to throw money their way to get them to relocate. If Orlando wants to keep it, they'll have to outbid the others. The law school won't be a factor.

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