Friday, September 14, 2012
No '12 home blackouts for Jaguars
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars won't have any blackouts this season.
They don't even want to use the term, either.
And if things go as planned under new owner Shad Khan, empty seats at EverBank Field also will be a thing of the past.
Team president Mark Lamping said Friday the Jaguars will have every home game on local television in 2012, and in an effort to remove blackouts from the conversation, they won't even ask the NFL for extensions.
"We don't sell tickets to get our game on TV," Lamping said. "We sell tickets to generate revenue and have a stable franchise. And almost just as important is to have the stadium full so that we have a home-field advantage. Whether the game is on TV or not, that's just sort of a byproduct. That's not our goal."
Jacksonville also has several new initiatives to beef up ticket sales. Fans are allowed to bring food into the stadium to avoid high costs at concession stands. Babies sitting on a parent's lap get free admission. And unused seats are being sold for as low as $20 each.
Fans can buy a certificate for up to four tickets the day before the game and then redeem it for unused tickets, some in prime locations, an hour before kickoff. But the new policy, tabbed "Coin-Toss Tickets," does not guarantee location or whether tickets will be singles, paired or nearby each other.
Nonetheless, the Jaguars believe they are taking steps to eliminate those empty pockets of seats that get a lot of national attention and create speculation that the franchise is destined to relocate.
"We wanted to eliminate those policies that were barriers to fans attending games," Lamping said. "The outside perception is that no one goes to the games here, that games are always blacked out here. So now there won't be that talk. All the games will be on television."
The Jaguars haven't blacked out a home game since 2009. Nonetheless, the small-market franchise has struggled to fill its cavernous stadium, which was built to house the annual Florida-Georgia college football game.
Jacksonville covered nearly 10,000 seats in 2005 to reduce stadium capacity and make it easier to avoid blackouts. Now, the Jaguars don't even want that to be an issue.
"I know our team's better days are ahead of us, not behind us," Lamping said. "I believe this organization's better days are ahead of us."
Lamping is hopeful that some or all of the tarps eventually will be removed. The NFL now allows teams to dictate stadium size on a game-by-game basis, and the Jaguars expect to have the tarps off for at least one game this season, probably against the New York Jets in December. That game will mark the latest return for Jacksonville native and former Florida star Tim Tebow.
"There's nothing we would love more this year than to peel off some of the tarps for a game," Lamping said. "Psychologically, that would be a wonderful thing for this community."