Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Issues Surrounding the Jags Go beyond Football

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Issues Surrounding the Jags Go beyond Football

Article excerpt

Byline: Tonyaa Weathersbee, Times-Union columnist

So the 12th man hasn't been waving his teal pom-poms too wildly at the Jacksonville Jaguars games for the past two years -- and folks are acting surprised.

I'm not.

I had hoped this wouldn't happen. Had hoped that, after the euphoria that had been induced by corporate blitzes and winning seasons wore off, the fans would keep filing into Alltel Stadium nonetheless. Had hoped that, after being lampooned as losers and yahoos, that people would at least be grateful that they no longer have to explain that Jacksonville is in Florida, and no, it isn't close to Miami.

Face it -- the Jags put us on the map.

But I knew it would only be a matter of time before the crushing gravity of losing seasons and ticket costs that price many families out of the games would send us hurtling back down to reality.

The impact of that reality is what needs to be dealt with now.

For the past two years, game attendance has dropped by 14 percent. Fewer people are buying Jags paraphernalia; fewer people are watching the team on television.

Now I do agree that one reason for the dip is purely the fact that many people don't want to torture themselves with seeing their team lose. And here in Jacksonville, in a place where so much of our image -- and our tax money -- has been tied into the success of the Jaguars, people have come to nurture godlike expectations of a team that is, after all, only flesh and blood.

Yet, I'll bet there would be more people in the stadium even if the Jags were losing if the ticket prices were lower. Or if more people made enough money to feel good about buying tickets in spite of how the team was doing.

Or if their mission for coming to the stadium transcended whether the team won or lost.

Those are the things that need to be worked on.

Right now, ticket prices for Jaguars games average about $63. Some people pay as little as $40. But in a town where low-wage, call center jobs proliferate, and where the average after-tax income was $18,133 per person in 2000, it's hard for people to afford tickets that are the fourth most expensive in the National Football League. …

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