Disappointment, anger, sadness, and apathy. Those were the feelings echoed among Jaguars fans after the team announced it’s intentions to play two home games in London during the 2020 season. Jaguars fans have long-fought against several baseless accusations of apathy and lack of support, along with rumors of relocation for years.
Yesterday, however, the team’s fans were placed in a setting of unease as they were forced to stand up for what they believe in — the Jacksonville Jaguars, with a heavy emphasis on Jacksonville.
Jaguars owner Shad Khan started yesterday that he believed the fans would respond positively to the news. The team will now be making more money, which, in his mind, helps the city of Jacksonville and allows the team to remain competitive in a league which is ever growing. However, the Jaguars owner couldn’t have possibly been more incorrect in his assessment of the feelings his fans would have.
“I think if you go back when the first game was announced and really historically what that’s done for the city and done for the Jaguars. So, my expectation is that it should be very positive,” Khan said via conference call on Tuesday. “Everything we’re doing helps the city, helps us, and that’s what you need a small market team to do to get on a competitive footing with all the resources you need to compete with the other big market teams.”
With the series made official shortly before noon eastern time on Tuesday, we asked fans to give us their reactions to the news. Many were angry, and most of the expletive-riddled responses were completely justifiable due to the amount of theoretical, and a some points literal, blood, sweat, and tears years poured into a franchise which has — outside of a couple of seasons —, continued to disappoint with their on-field performance.
Other fans were simply apathetic — finally throwing in the towel after years of giving support and unconditional loyalty to a franchise they’ve loved for a lifetime.
The team’s largest support group — the Bold City Brigade, a group of unrelenting die-hard fans founded in 2011 —, released a statement on Tuesday night following the events which beautifully, and articulately explained the frustration, and disappointment they felt following the announcement.
“Since founding BCB 9 years ago, we have been focused on promoting and building a dedicated fan culture in support of the Jacksonville Jaguars,” the support group said in a statement released on twitter. “Our organization was born out of the diehard support that so many local fans have displayed over the past 25 seasons. We want to make it clear that we vehemently oppose this decision. Furthermore, it is our belief that any other fan base, if faced with a similar situation would feel equally as disappointed and angry.”
To put it simply, there isn’t much of a redemption to be had in moving two games to London. Not for the team’s fans, and certainly not to fans who have become loyal season ticket holders over the years. The loyalty to the Jaguars goes far deeper than simply an NFL team. The loyalty the group has for it’s city, Jacksonville, and major county, Duval is paramount. Anything short is unacceptable to them.
The team has even gone as far as to adopt a common moniker echoed by Jaguars fans throughout the season, used by by the team itself as “DUUUVAL”. They’ve used DTWD — an acronym created by the Bold City Brigade itself meaning “Duval ‘Til We Die”. Yet, fans feel most of it is lost on the team’s leadership. The famous “Duval ‘Til I Die” melody can be heard multiple times during a tailgate and TIAA Bank Field. While absolutely, the fan base supports the team and would never trade it for the world, no where is the phrase “Jaguars ‘Til I Die” uttered.
The Jaguars have continuously stated that their goal is to remain in Jacksonville with no plans to completely move the team to London, and that much remains true, by any and all accounts. However, the message of instability due to a lack of local revenue has not been accepted — not with an overall record of 38-90 over the past eight seasons since Khan originally purchased the team.
In 2017, the Jaguars nearly reached the Super Bowl, falling short in the AFC Title game. The following season, the Jaguars saw an enormous growth in season ticket sales. According to Jaguars President Mark Lamping the team is still “treading water” in terms of keeping up with the majority of the league’s local revenue, regardless of projections based on 2018 sales — 10,000 new season tickets sold while achieving 97% of all possible revenue, or ~$70M out of ~$72M.
The fans in Jacksonville do not need to be told their local revenue needs to be raised — that much is obvious. However, the team’s ideas of how to generate the revenue is where the anger stems from.
Now, the team will almost certainly lose season ticket holders. Fans, that have dedicated their lives to following the football team to the edge of the earth, which is barely an overstatement.
Apathetic. I believe Khan when he says he wants the Jags to stay in Jax, but he rather have guaranteed revenue and screw the fans, rather than do all you can to win and gain the revenue through fans and city the right way.— tyler baird (@MT_Baird) February 4, 2020
I'm not even from Jacksonville, so the home games doesn't affect me (in fact it's easier to see a game in London), but I don't like it at all. To see how many fans hate this - and I think the fans should be number one priority besides winning - really make me angry.— Bene (@BeneZyrkon) February 4, 2020
I’m not renewing.— Randy Fennell (@rfennell8385) February 4, 2020
Some fans are angry, however they will still renew, with twitter user, @Doc_Rogers stating “Angry, but will renew, I’m a sucker.”
Angry, but will renew, I’m a sucker but I feel like if the STM numbers aren’t there then we will lose the team. Hey, great opportunity to get better seats. This team needs to focus on winning and not doing these annual London games. Get the money and get out. No more London games— Doc. Rogers (@Doc_Rogers) February 4, 2020
Other fans are simply bummed. The team they love will seemingly no longer just be their team, instead it will venture off overseas to foot the bill to stay in Jacksonville.
Mad and sad and wondering how I'm going to replace the Jags in my life and also wondering why I have to be at work today because I'm super bummed.— #KhanOut KDahdah (@Orc0909) February 4, 2020
Even a London-based Jaguars fan reached out to express disdain for the announcement:
As a Jaguars fan from the UK I’m completely against it, I support Jacksonville because of the place and although I’ve never been to Jax I just love the whole culture around Duval. So for me taking it out of there for 2 home games a season is just plain wrong.— Tom (@TomSturley_) February 4, 2020
We received over 100 responses to the question yesterday, many of which echo the sentiments of the comments above. One thing is clear, the fan base, while disappointed and angry, still clearly very much love the city, and it’s team. There will be no shortage of fight withing the core of the team’s fan base as they continue their efforts to keep the Jacksonville Jaguars in Jacksonville for a full slate of regular season home games.