Jacksonville Jaguars myths and facts
There are few things in the NFL that gets the fan base of the Jacksonville Jaguars more riled up than people quoting myths, as fact, in regards to the team and the stability of the franchise in Jacksonville. I will attempt to try to explain the myth versus the fact and provide easily research-able facts to try to dispel some of the more egregious myths.
Blackouts: This is the biggest myth surrounding the Jaguars for quite a while now. It all started in 2008. The Jaguars thought they were one piece away from a Super Bowl run and swung for the fences to make that run happen. Costly Free Agent signings and arguably the worst draft in their history, led to a 5-11 season and an offseason of change. Combined with the worsening economy and it was a prime situation for blackouts the following year in 2009. That year saw a poorly talented team totally rebuilt and while they finished 7-9, the fans stayed away. Seven of the teams’ eight home games were blacked out. That’s the history and the facts. Now the myths come into play. Since that 09 season, the Jaguars have not had a game blacked-out. However, it seems like the media wants to say how bad the attendance is here in Jacksonville by bringing up the black-outs. From 2010-present, the Jaguars have not had a game blacked-out locally, while other markets, such as Tampa Bay, Buffalo, and San Diego routinely have theirs blacked-out.
Tarps and Stadium Size: Ok, this is a tough one. Everbank Field was a compromise of a stadium. Here in Jacksonville we host a big college football game between the Universities of Florida and Georgia, annually. That game requires enough seating to hold over 85,000 fans. Everbank Field was constructed with that in mind as well as an everyday host to an NFL team. The capacity of the stadium without the tarps and expanded seating for the Florida-Georgia game is 76,867. It is expandable to over 85,000 and with the tarps on it brings it down to 67,164. With no tarps on the stadium, it is the fifth largest stadium in the NFL but in the third smallest market. With the tarps, the stadium is still bigger than Chicago’s Soldier Field (61,500), Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field (65,050), and the Metrodome in Minneapolis (64,121). Much bigger markets than Jacksonville, but yet they have smaller stadiums to fill with more population to fill them with. All of which brings me to the next point.
Average Attendance: Up to this week in the 2012 NFL season, the Jaguars are 22nd in league attendance for home games, at 94.9 percent capacity (yes, with tarps). They are just below Buffalo (stadium size of 73,079 and at 95.4% with 4 home games played) and come ahead of such “great” fan-bases such as Cleveland (Dawg pound, 73,200, 92.3% filled), Kansas City (Arrowhead fans, 76,413, 91.7% filled), and Oakland (Black Hole, 63,132, 90.4% filled). All of these stats are easily found on ESPN.com. They are readily available for anyone to research, yet no one likes to when it comes to facts with the Jaguars. The myth has been that the fans do not support the team and that is why they are the leading candidate to move to Los Angeles at every turn. The average attendance figures above, puts that into perspective a little bit more. There are 10 teams that are worse.
The bottom line is that when speculating about the future of the Jaguars in Jacksonville, it is way off base to assume the fans are non-supportive. They routinely average almost 95% capacity in the third smallest NFL market, with the 20th largest stadium in the NFL. They routinely out-draw other so-called “die-hard” fan bases. These are facts, not something that I made up. Each stat is easily research-able for yourself. People in Jacksonville already know these figures. When you combine the fact that the Jaguars are in a nearly air-tight lease with the city until the 2030 season, the Jaguars aren’t going to be moving any time soon. The team may not be good on the field this year, and you can trash them for that, the fans of this team probably deserve a pat on the back for being true “die-hards” in the face of all the L.A. talk. They have answered the call and supported a bad team throughout it all. One bad attendance season, does not mean things are the same anymore. Do your research, please.
Eric Harris is an NFL writer for TPF and can be contacted at EHarris@ThePenaltyFlagBlog.com.