As Wayne Weaver saw it, there was reason to smile Monday.
Weaver, the Jaguars' owner, spoke along with Head Coach Jack Del Rio and General Manager Gene Smith at a press conference at EverBank Field Monday afternoon, with the emphasis on moving forward and expressing appreciation to fans for patience during the NFL lockout that ended Monday.
Weaver spoke at length about the positives of the agreement – long-term labor peace and a Collective Bargaining Agreement that works for Jacksonville chief among them – and also emphasized what he said is crucial for the Jaguars.
The team needs to sell tickets. A lot of them.
And it needs to happen fast.
"We need the support of all of our fans to make sure we have a full stadium at EverBank Field this year," Weaver said. "We have a short time to do that. It's going to be a crash period."
The Jaguars, after having nine games blacked out in 2009, used the momentum and results of their Team Teal initiative last off-season to have every game televised locally.
"We count on the fans," Jaguars Head Coach Jack Del Rio said. "We count on that 12thman. Our stadium was rocking last year. We played exciting football last year here at home. We need those fans to have our backs and to come out strong for us."
The Jaguars currently need to sell about 17,000 tickets to avert blackouts in 2011, with the goal being to sell about 10,000 season tickets and 7,000 more in group sales and single-game tickets.
"We're prepared to do that," Weaver said. "We just need our fans to step up and pick up where they left off last year. I really believe our fans will rally. We're going to do a lot of things to engage our fans. We don't have much time."
Weaver said the positive of the recently-negotiated new CBA is all 32 teams can compete for a Super Bowl every year, and he said the key for the Jaguars to operate under the new system remains high attendance at home games.
"If we do that, we'll be able to compete and spend to the cap every year and make sure we're building our roster to compete and play at a high level," Weaver said.
Weaver said the terms of the CBA benefits the Jaguars by giving the team "a much-better revenue-sharing, SRS (supplemental revenue sharing) pool, than what we had in the past."
"I really appreciate the patience our fans have shown over these last five months," Weaver said. "It's been an arduous process and it has been one that has been frustrating at times, but at the end of the day, what it is important is we have labor peace for the next 10 years.
"Both sides did a great job. Neither side got everything they wanted. . . . But it is a fair agreement. It's one in which players have a chance to grow their revenues and it also gives all 32 clubs a chance to compete, and make sure they can spend to the salary cap.
"Every year, when we go to camp, our fans can know we have the opportunity to compete to be in the post-season. I think that's a good thing. . . At the end of the day, what matters is we got a good agreement. We have an agreement that works for our players. It works for the clubs. And more importantly, it works for our fans.
"One of the things our fans charged us to do was go and get a deal done. Now, it's back to football."
Weaver said the franchise's viability in Jacksonville – and the team's chances of being competitive – is enhanced by the agreement.
"I think that's a fair assessment of it," he said.
The Jaguars went 8-8 last season, leading the AFC South with three weeks remaining. Weaver said there's little reason to think improvement can't be made.
"We're in a better position than most teams," Weaver said, adding that Del Rio and Smith "have done an outstanding job in being prepared to make sure that going into 2011 we're in a great position. I don't think we should adjust our expectations.
"We're excited to get started. We're excited about the potential of this football team this year."
The Jaguars' first practice of the 2011 training is scheduled for Thursday, with the first evening practice scheduled for 7 p.m. that night at EverBank Field.
"We hope all of our fans will show up and we'll have a big crowd to get back to football," Weaver said.