There was a recent article in the Washington Post that highlights the struggles of the Jaguars as a small market team to remain competitive in the NFL. It's an interesting article and merits a careful reading. But not too deeply as writer Les Carpenter gives the slant that the Jaguars are either on the verge of bankruptcy or selling the team.
Both are wrong.
Yes, the Jaguars have covered almost 10,000 seats. Yes, Jacksonville theoretically loses $200,000.00 per game in lost revenue because of the "tarps". But there is much more to it than just covering the seats.
First off, the Jaguars are not the only big time event held in that stadium. You might have heard of the Gator Bowl Well, once a year those tarps come off because the one game a year college crowd demands the full open capacity of the stadium.
With the Jaguars, we have our regular season games, spread over the season and demand is decreased. The Gator Bowl is once a year and always grabs a huge crowd because it's a once a year event.
When the Jags began to stumble in 2000, we as fans had to learn that our rapid rise to the top of the league was not a normal experience. We did not learn to love the team through years of painful struggle and development, we went to the playoffs in our second season. We're still new to this game. Once the Jags began to struggle and the fans left (which coincided with the expiration of many club seat and season ticket packages), blackouts rolled through the city further alienating the team from what it needed most, the fans.
But the team moved on, quietly building talent, with Wayne Weaver adding talent and spending what he needs to in order to build a quality franchise. Wayne is a smart guy, he knows that the best way to keep that stadium full and the Jags in the black is to build a competitive team that can last for a long time. He lets Shack Harris and Jack Del Rio draft young players and avoid huge free market acquisitions. We're not the Redskins, we don't buy a new offense every year.
There are serious issues between the biggest teams and the smallest ones. Look at what Washington pays for coaches, they spend more on one assistant coach than Jacksonville does for ALL of theirs. That gap, if unchecked, will suffocate all the small market teams. This is why Wayne Weaver at every possible moment reminds the media of the inequality and that the situation is yet to be fixed.
Jacksonville is not going anywhere for awhile, in the next 10 years it's said to grow immensely (though strangely based on a post-Castro Cuba). The team has all the tools in place to be an icon in the southeast. We just, as the article says, need to make it through the next 5 years in order to secure everything completely. The league and the new commissioner have a challenge in front of them. They need to remember how "leaguethink" has kept them all rich and successful and to not hurt what makes the NFL so great.
That's my 2 cents.