Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Economy Another Hurdle for Jags; Naming-Rights Deal Still on Hold; More Financial Issues Loom on Horizon

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Economy Another Hurdle for Jags; Naming-Rights Deal Still on Hold; More Financial Issues Loom on Horizon

Article excerpt

Byline: VITO STELLINO

The sagging national economy has provided one more obstacle to the Jaguars' bid to secure a naming-rights deal for Jacksonville Municipal Stadium.

The team has sought a new stadium sponsor since Feb. 1, 2007, when the contract with telecommunications company Alltel expired and wasn't renewed.

Though the team isn't close to a new deal, the Jaguars hope to have one in place for the start of the 2008 season, senior vice president/chief financial officer Bill Prescott said.

"With the market down quite a bit [this year] and with credit getting tougher, it's not making it any easier [to sell a naming-rights deal]," Prescott said. "We've always got plenty of irons in the fire, but it's going to take a while to get the right fit. It hasn't happened yet, but I'm optimistic something will happen before the start of the season."

Alltel paid $620,000 per year for the stadium naming rights, but this time, the Jaguars are seeking about $5 million annually, which they would split with the city.

A naming-rights deal would help the bottom line because the Jaguars are struggling to break even as a small-market team in the NFL.

Prescott said the team came close to breaking even in 2006, but "at the end of the year, had a slight loss.'' He expects similar results for the 2007 season once the books are closed. The Jaguars were 28th in league revenue last year.

In the current environment, Prescott said the Jaguars can field a competitive team while coming close to breaking even. Last year, they made the playoffs for the second time in the last three years and posted their first playoff win since 1999.

Prescott, though, foresees more financial problems on the horizon when the Dallas Cowboys open a new stadium in 2009, and the New York Giants and Jets open a stadium they will share in 2010.

Those two facilities are projected to produce huge revenue streams that the teams don't have to share with the others but will raise the salary cap. That will increase the squeeze on small-market teams such as the Jaguars.

While the Jaguars have been unable to earn $5 million per year in naming rights, the Giants and Jets are expected to receive more than $20 million annually. …

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