Open Letter to Mike Florio

I normally limit my diatribes to twitter, but I felt the need to actually write this one up after Mike Florio's recent blurb on ProFootballTalk.com. It forced me back into my Jaguars "fan" suit that I try so hard to stay out of when I'm writing articles.

As to whether the Jaguars will remain in Jacksonville, it's meaningless.  And for those of you in Jacksonville who choose to call me biased or a "hater" for pointing out that simple reality, you'd be making more valuable use of your time by, you know, purchasing tickets to games.

At the heart of Mike Florio's point, he's correct. The naming rights alone do not guarantee the Jacksonville Jaguars will remain in Jacksonville. It doesn't guarantee they'll remain in Jacksonville past today. This is the problem however, is Florio either refuses to see or just doesn't get the gravity of the situation. It's a hell of a lot more of a positive thing than meaningless.

Mike Florio recently was on 1010XL WJXL on the Mike Dempsey show for his weekly spot, in which this topic was discussed. It became readily apparent that Florio just didn't understand the point. Jaguars fans are not taking the team getting stadium naming rights as a mark that the team is going to stay in Jacksonville. but a mark towards that direction. As I said, the naming rights alone do not guarantee anything. The naming rights however, change the perception of the team locally.

It's exhausting constantly hearing every story about the Jaguars include a punch to the ribs about ticket sales, black outs, and Los Angeles. I'll admit it, it's depressing. The psyche of the fan base has been punched in the ribs so many times with this issue that some of them are broken. I've personally heard multiple people claim "Well, why buy tickets? They're just going to move to LA anyways. It doesn't matter."

Yes, it does matter. That line of thinking is why something like stadium naming rights is such a big deal.

But, frankly, it means nothing.  The move creates $3.32 million in new money per year, a small percentage of the team's total revenue.  It sells not a single new ticket.  And so it does nothing to address the more fundamental problem in Jacksonville regarding the long-term viability of a team there.

Frankly, it means a lot. As I mentioned before, at the root of the matter Mike Florio is correct. Nothing is solved until there are tickets moving and butts in the seats, but who's going to invest in an unstable product? Many people in the city of Jacksonville have settled on the fact it's a foregone conclusion the team is going to uproot and leave soon, so why would they bother to invest in a product that's going to leave them?

Adding a multi-year sponsorship deal to a stadium that's been unnamed for a few years infuses a sense of stability into the city. It makes the investment in tickets seem more secure. It puts off the perception that the team is not leaving in the near future, true or not. Perception right now is all that matters.

If people in the town feel like the product is secure, they will invest.

Not only was this a fair point made poorly by Florio, but he also made some comments on the radio that showed he just didn't do the research before he spoke. He made mention that the stadium deal does put $3 million in Wayne Weaver's pocket, which he could use to hire proper marketing people and not someone who gets arrested and quits the next day.

Sure, an easy jab right?

Wrong.

It's a jab that's easily thought better of if you did the research and realized that the Jaguars have sold a record number of new season tickets this off-season, as well as had a 90%+ retention rate on previous season tickets. They've even sold so well that it had Mackey Weaver of the Jacksonville Jaguars optimistic they wouldn't have any blackouts. Obviously someone was doing something right.

Then the most agregious point Florio made was that Wayne Weaver should use the money to buy up the remaining season tickets at $0.34 on the dollar to lift all the blackouts. Well again, simple research would show why this is such a poor idea. That's what Wayne Weaver and Winn-Dixie did in the past. He claims that it's free advertising for a product and when people see it they will want to go.

It didn't work then.

It won't work now.

Something tells me had the Jaguars reached their goal and lifted all of their blackouts, we would hear "Well, you still don't have a stadium sponsor."

We get it. You think Jacksonville is destined for LA.

Okay.

We get it,

Far be it from be to tell Mike Florio what to write and what not to write his wildly successful website, but it's clear he's misguided in his line of thinking. I understand his schtick is to generate pageviews, which he certainly does... but you're wrong on this Mike. I still read his website everyday and will continue to read it everyday, but I believe this is a horse that's been beaten, and now it's being beaten on just because.

Oh, and LandShark isn't a Jacksonville based brewery. It's a subsidiary of Budweiser, who has multiple breweries all over the country. It's just bottled in Jacksonville. Once again, research.

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