Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jaguars' Market Is Similar to Buffalo's

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jaguars' Market Is Similar to Buffalo's

Article excerpt

Byline: Vito Stellino

When Jacksonville was awarded an expansion franchise 20 years ago Saturday, the NFL was touting it as the Green Bay of the South - a small market with a passion for a football team that was the only game in town.

The comparison wasn't apt because Green Bay isn't really a small market. It is the only team in Wisconsin, and that includes Milwaukee, which is the 34th-largest television market. It also has almost a century of tradition , and it's a community-owned team.

The much better comparison is that Jacksonville turned out to be the Buffalo of the South.

Except for the weather difference - although Buffalo has a water feature, nearby Niagara Falls - the cities are similar.

Not counting Green Bay, they are two of the three smallest TV markets in the league with Jacksonville at 50 and Buffalo at 52 sandwiched around post-Katrina New Orleans at 51.

Both are trying to regionalize their franchises, and each plays a game a year on foreign soil - Buffalo plays an annual game in Toronto (this year's game is Sunday against Atlanta), and the Jaguars are playing a game in London for at least the next three years.

The foreign games get both teams more revenue despite the loss of home field advantage for the game.

Both have stadiums that are way too big for their markets. Buffalo's opened in 1973 in the heyday of O.J. Simpson with more than 80,000 seats. It has been since downsized to 72,498, but it is still too big for a small-market team. EverBank Field was built for the Florida-Georgia game with more than 76,000 permanent seats although 10,000 are currently tarped and about 7,000 will be removed next year when the new water feature is added.

The Bills are 18th in attendance this year, averaging 68,261 fans; the Jaguars are 29th at 59,630.

Both teams also have to deal with the perception in the national media that they could be moved. CBS Sports reported last week that singer Jon Bon Jovi is interested in buying the team when it is up for sale. …

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