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Forecast was excuse for not attending home-opener


The following is a transcript of a question and answer session between Senior Writer Vic Ketchman and Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver.

VK: You must know I'm going to ask you about Sunday's no-shows count. What about it?

WW: I don't really agree with Tom (Coughlin). If you listened to the radio, watched television, they were saying that we could have at some point during the game 6-8 inches of rain, and that we were under a tornado warning, and we certainly were under a tropical storm watch. I have to say that if I'm the average fan and I'm thinking about bringing my family out in that weather, I would have second thoughts. I can't fault the fans. As it turned out, we had rain. Other than for that, the weather wasn't nearly as bad as it was predicted to be, but no one had a way of knowing that. I don't fault the fans for not coming to that game. There was just too much of a doomsday forecast. I'm just glad the weather turned out the way it did for the game and for the fans who were there.

VK: What do your marketing and ticketing statistics tell you about the fan base you've developed? Is it solid?

WW: Oh, I think our fan base is solid. We have about 60,000 season-ticket holders. Back in 1995 we had 67,000, so we've had some (loss) in our fan base, but I think that was due to the euphoria of Jacksonville getting a team, and people bought tickets who probably couldn't afford it. I just think we have to do a better marketing job. Our market has grown; we have a big building here. You know, if we were 66,000 seats, we would have no problem selling that out every week. That's the average size of stadiums in the NFL. We have to realize that we're the second-smallest market and we've got the fifth or sixth-largest facility in the league. We just have to do a better marketing job. Fortunately, our market has grown and I believe that if we do our job well, we'll continue to fill this building. I honestly believe we won't black out but one or maybe two games this year. Hopefully, we won't (black out any). Over time, I think we'll solve our problem. There's a market here to fill up this building and we just have to work harder and figure out creative ways to do it, and we'll probably have to rely more on gameday sales to do it.

VK: Have you allowed games to be shown on local TV that should've been blacked out?

WW: No, we've been creative. By creative, I mean we've gone out and rewarded some people by giving tickets to some major corporations who came in and supported us for a (potential) blackout game. But, no, we have not in any way done anything to prop up our (ticket sales). In fact, if anything, this year I'm looking at maybe we ought to black out one or two games, just to let fans know that if they don't come to the stadium they may not see the game.

VK: Your team is facing a high-profile game in Indianapolis on Monday night. What do you believe the game means?

WW: I think this is real test of character for our football team, to see who's going to show up on Monday night. We've got to play better football than we've played this season. That's going to be a tough game. It may be one of the defining games of this season, as far as this football team is concerned. You're going to be playing in a dome, it's going to be extraordinarily loud, and you're going to have to show up and play your best football to come out of there with a win.

VK: You have three attractive home games in October. Washington is sold out. Where do you stand with the Pittsburgh and Baltimore games?

WW: Pittsburgh is pretty much sold out and Baltimore is not. I'm a little surprised that there's not more interest in that game. Maybe it's because it's far enough down the line that people have not focused on it, yet. That game could be a blackout game, if we don't see some pick up real quick in our ticket sales.

VK: You also have to play in Tennessee and in Dallas in October. Is it the most attractive month of scheduling you've had in your team's history?

WW: I think it is because we're going to get some national exposure in some of those games. The Washington game is a national game, the Tennessee game is a Monday night game, and I would think the Dallas game is potentially a nationally-televised game. Yeah, it's a great schedule for our football team.

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