Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fans Still Must Decide: Tickets or Blackouts

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fans Still Must Decide: Tickets or Blackouts

Article excerpt

Byline: Gene Frenette

The Jaguars have admitted past wrongs of occasionally taking their season-ticket holders for granted, of thinking the honeymoon with fans would last forever, of putting too much of a squeeze on paying customers.

Everybody in the administrative offices at Alltel Stadium, from owner Wayne Weaver down to the bottom-rung sales employee, knows it can't be like it once was.

It's not enough anymore for the Jaguars to expect people will show up unconditionally. Those 25,000 seats that were paid for and went unfilled at the last home game against the Houston Texans, a matchup that had playoff implications, was a sobering wake-up call for the marketing department.

So is this alarming trend as the Jaguars approach training camp: Even with 9,713 seats covered to reduce the stadium's capacity, the team still needs to sell 5,000 to 9,000 non-premium seat tickets just to have television blackouts of home games lifted.

"It's the most difficult juxtaposition I've ever been in working in sports," said Jaguars ticket sales director Scott Loft, who also worked for the NBA Philadelphia 76ers and NHL Nashville Predators. "The difficulty is telling people to buy a ticket so games can be on TV. It's one of those oxymorons."

At a time when optimism for on-field success might be the highest since their four-year playoff run ended in 2000, the Jaguars are feeling handcuffed. They're stalling with ticket movement the way its offense has in the red zone.

But unlike previous years, the team's administration deserves credit for trying to make things right. What you do with your entertainment dollar is your personal choice, but the Jaguars aren't sitting back and expecting fans to throw money at them.

They've slashed ticket prices so low that Jacksonville has the third-lowest average ticket price ($40. …

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