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Blackout has been lifted


The blackout has been lifted. Thursday night's game against the Indianapolis Colts will become the first Jaguars home game this season to be shown on local television.

That announcement was made at a noon press conference at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium on Monday. Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton and "Touchdown Jacksonville" leader Carl Cannon joined in making the announcement.

"This movement is getting traction in our community," Peyton said of "Touchdown Jacksonville's" effort to stimulate slumping ticket sales. "Touchdown Jacksonville," of course, was the driving force in Jacksonville having been awarded an NFL franchise in 1993.

The Jaguars' first nine games this season were blacked out to local television, as Jacksonville's identity as a football town has taken a major hit this year. Today's announcement and an intense season-ticket sales effort in the offseason are being counted on to reverse the trend.

"We've been labeled as having too many blackouts, but I believe we're now headed in the right direction and soon there won't be any," said Cannon, the former publisher of "The Florida Times-Union."

"This team is important to our city. It's part of our culture. We're proud people are responding," Peyton added.

Tickets for Thursday night's game are still available, but the allotment of general-bowl seats, which are the only tickets that apply to the blackout rule, have been sold.

How did they do it?

"The same way we did it the first time," Cannon said. "The people are there. All you have to do is get them enthused about it. We just have to rekindle the enthusiasm for it."

How do you do that?

"Take those people who have enthusiasm for it and have them spread it. There are a lot of people talking about the Jaguars and we want to keep the Jaguars," Cannon added.

Jaguars Chief Financial Officer Bill Prescott attended the press conference and offered these words:

"They've heightened the awareness of the average employee," Prescott said of local businesses that participated in the movement. "Not only did they sell tickets, but they energized the fan base to buy tickets."

What will follow this offseason will be most important and will go a long way toward determining the franchise's future.

"This was never a goal to get the blackout lifted. The key is to capitalize on the movement they've built and convert these people to season-ticket holders. As Wayne (Weaver) has always said, we can't continue to play in front of 42,000 people in a 67,000-seat stadium," Prescott said.

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