Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Jacksonville, Florida. Largest city in Florida by population, believe it or not. Almost twice the population of Miami. So why can't they fill the stadium up? I mean, they are first rate! As PFT states:

As the Jaguars try to recover from a season that featured home crowds in the lower reaches of 40,000, owner Wayne Weaver said at the annual meetings in Orlando that he is encouraged by the early sales for 2010, in the wake of last week's initial deadline for season-ticket renewals.

"I think it came in really well," Weaver said Monday, per Michael C. Wright of the Florida Times-Union.  "Our renewal rate is going to be way up compared to the past.  We've got a long way to go, but it's moving well."

As Wright explains it, Friday's deadline applied to the eight-month payment plan, which includes eligibility for various prizes, like a trip to one of the team's road games, where fans might be able to experience the thrill of a full NFL stadium.  (Unless the game is in Tampa.)

The team's official web site currently shows that 16,242 season tickets have been renewed, and that 29,418 tickets per game must be sold to avoid local blackouts.  Last season, only one of ten home games met the minimum threshold for sales, permitting the contest to be televised locally.

I've been to Jacksonville Municipal Stadium for a couple of Gator Bowls, and it's a first-rate facility.  Jacksonville also is, in our view, a first-rate town.  So we continue to be flummoxed by the failure of the locals to fill the place up.  It's NFL football, folks -- and with another year or two of 40,000 fans per game, it won't be NFL football for much longer.

It seems a lot of people don't understand the demographics of Jacksonville that clearly. Sure, it has a population of 800,000. That's almost three times that of Buffalo and over twice that of Pittsburgh and Cleveland, three places that have no problems filling up a stadium. And two of those places have terrible teams. Much worse than the Jaguars have been over the past few years. The Jags won a playoff game as recently as 2007. So why can't these people go to the game?

Because those numbers are misleading. Jacksonville has an area about 15 TIMES that of Miami.

Take a look at Jacksonville. It's the largest city in the lower-48 by terms of land area. It takes up almost the ENTIRE COUNTY. The metro area that has 1.3 million people in it takes up like, 5 counties. It's the fourth largest in the state...behind Orlando. Not even taking into account the economic depression in the area...it's just not that big.

Let's look at NFL cities and their metro areas:

New York 19.0
Chicago 9.6
Dallas 6.3
Philadelphia 5.8
Houston 5.7
Miami 5.4
Atlanta 5.4
Washington D.C. 5.4
Boston  4.5
Detroit 4.4
Phoenix 4.3
San Francisco/Oakland 4.3
Seattle 3.3
Minneapolis 3.2
San Diego 3.0
St. Louis 2.8
Tampa Bay 2.7
Baltimore 2.7
Denver 2.5
Pittsburgh 2.4
Cincinnati 2.2
Cleveland 2.1
Kansas City 2.0
Indianapolis 1.7
Charlotte 1.7
Nashville 1.6
Jacksonville 1.3
New Orleans 1.1
Buffalo 1.1
Green Bay 0.3  (112 miles north of Milwaukee 1.5 M)

Jacksonville is right at the bottom. I'm not even going to count Green Bay here because they are such an anomaly. And they have, like, a history. I guess both teams share Mark Brunell.

Jacksonville's metro area takes up 3,700 square miles. Buffalo's takes up 1,600. New Orleans has a comparable area, however, the city itself is about a fifth the area of Jacksonville's. Basically, there just aren't that many people living near Jacksonville's stadium. Combined with the fact that they don't have that much money and that the team is relatively new...I can understand that they can't get 70,000 people to the stadium. That's one-tenth of their people. And I'm not even taking age into account. If New York put one-tenth of their people into the stadium, they'd have to sit about 30 to a seat. Pittsburgh would fill their stadium to almost 4 times it's capacity. 

What I'm saying is...there probably shouldn't be an NFL team in Jacksonville.

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