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All well in Jacksonville


NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said he expects the Super Bowl will return to Jacksonville, then Tagliabue painted a positive picture for the health of the Jaguars franchise.

"I think Wayne Weaver said that maybe in the next decade would be a realistic timeline; that's for the community to decide. But my feeling is we will be back here at some point," Tagliabue said at Friday's traditional commissioner's press conference.

Tagliabue was complimentary of Jacksonville's efforts in hosting Super Bowl XXXIX, which will be played at Alltel Stadium on Sunday between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles.

"The community demonstrated when we put the expansion team here in the early to mid-'90s that it was the little engine that could. It out-competed (other) markets. There's been tremendous support here for the team," Tagliabue added in Friday's remarks.

"There's great history in football here at all levels. Those were factors in bringing the game here. The weather here is going to be fine. If the biggest problem is a little rain, you should count yourself a lucky person. The fans are having a great time here. The fans are here for football. They're here for fun," he said.

Tagliabue was also painted a positive picture of professional football in Jacksonville, in responding to a question about the Jaguars, who will cover about 10,000 seats next season in an Alltel Stadium downsizing program.

"I think the Jaguars franchise is fine in terms of fan support. I think the team was struggling a bit. That affects fan interest. They've taken some steps in players like Byron Leftwich and the team that coach Del Rio put together," he said.

"Everyone realizes the stadium was somewhat oversized. What Wayne is doing in terms of reducing the capacity at the margin is intelligent and will bring it much closer to what our average capacity is for new stadiums.

"Small markets have their challenges, certainly, but they're not unique to Jacksonville. They've done tremendous things in Kansas City. Buffalo has done tremendous things in serving their Canada base. We'll have to keep in place some of our wise policies, in terms of revenue sharing and cost sharing. So if they need support from the league, they'll get it," Tagliabue said.

On other fronts, Tagliabue talked of negotiations in seeking a new labor agreement with the players association. He referred to the salary cap system that has been in place since 1993, saying "it works."

Tagliabue also said the league hopes to have a team in place in Los Angeles by the end of the decade.

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