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It's not just about TV

Join senior editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Ron from Jacksonville:
Since we're talking blackouts again, and you didn't answer me last time, why aren't blackout thresholds throughout the league the same?

Vic: Blackout standards are the same throughout the league. All non-premium seats must be completely sold within 72 hours of kickoff for the game to be televised in the home team's market. The league, however, does allow for "American Disabilities Act and their companions seats" and "restricted view seats" to be subtracted from the seats that count toward the blackout, which leaves the Jaguars with about 59,000 seats to sell for home games to be televised in Jacksonville. Again, the technical application of the blackout rule is that every non-premium ticket must be sold within 72 hours of kickoff, that rule is the same for every team and it is expected to be strictly enforced.

Kim from Jacksonville:
Do you feel the offense improved from week one to week two of the preseason? I think they were about the same.

Vic: I felt as though they improved significantly, but it's really not important because the most telling performance of the preseason is always a team's next-to-last game. That, of course, would be this Friday's game against Green Bay. We will judge the Jaguars offense as ready or not ready for prime time based on what it does against the Packers.

John from Jacksonville:
I'm as confounded by the results of the seat-covering survey as you are. What do you think of covering sections of seats with banner photos of people sitting in the seats? I think that would appease both sides.

Vic: That's fine, as long as they're not rowdy.

Pete from Atlantic Beach, FL:
I voted for a reduction to 65,000 seats, believing that number was within reach for three-quarters of our home schedule. Your later info about the 58,000 average makes me think 60,000 would have been a better response. Since most website responders are probably ticket-holders and very avid fans, I read the poll results as nothing more than a desire to deny non-ticket holders the ability to get freebies at our expense. Your thoughts?

Vic: Based on the e-mails I got responding to my request for an explanation to the poll results – I got a ton of e-mails, by the way – I can tell you there were a number of season ticket holders who support your opinion. I don't blame them, but I also don't understand how empty seats improve their lot. Frankly, what you're suggesting is a somewhat vindictive attitude. Be that as it may, the preponderance of e-mails I received was not from season ticket holders. It was from ordinary fans – some of them out-of-towners who wouldn't see the games on TV anyhow – who just don't like the idea of covering seats. They see it as an admission of failure. They worry that it would taint the Jaguars' and Jacksonville's image. In many cases, the logic they presented was convoluted, but when you stripped away the excuses, what you saw was a lot of people who continue to embrace the hope that this town will fill the building. What the e-mails I got said was: "We want 76,000 people in the stadium and the rest of Jacksonville sitting at home watching the game on TV." I guess the next poll question should be: "Is that realistic?"

Nick from Clearfield, PA:
Maybe Titans fans are polluting our polls?

Vic: That's it, blame it on the Titans.

Jens from Mexico City, Mexico:
How many people answering that poll actually are affected by blackouts? To all others of us, the stigma answer applies, but only because the blackout is not a factor.

Vic: If we only allowed people affected by the blackouts to respond to the poll, the results would only tell us what we already know: Those who don't buy tickets want to see the game on TV. By making the poll available to everyone, I think we got a credible cross-section of the Jaguars' fan base. Remember, covering seats isn't just about TV. You're playing with supply and demand, which means adjusting seating capacity could have an affect on ticket prices. Then there's the image factor. We wanted to know how those concerns impact the overall opinion of fans. I think the poll accomplished that intent.

David from Gainesville, FL:
Maybe the 43 percent who like Alltel the way it is are season ticket holders who enjoy changing seats during the game.

Vic: Wit is the truest indicator of intelligence.

Scott from Greenville, SC:
I know it's early, but how is the Super Bowl being in Jacksonville affecting the attitudes of the players?

Vic: I think it has increased their interest in this season.

Ben from Charleston, WV:
Who sits and counts all the stats while the game is going on? How many people actually do it and how do they keep track of every little tackle and yard?

Vic: The Jaguars have a game-day stats crew of eight people, each of whom has a responsibility. They are coordinated by Jaguars Director of Communications Dan Edwards.

Donnie from St. Augustine, FL:
Who do you think is the greatest defensive player in Jaguars history?

Vic: Tony Brackens.

Josh from Jacksonville:
Do you think if we covered seats (hopefully not my row) that it will actually draw us criticism?

Vic: I think we have to be prepared for a degree of sniping, yes, especially if the Jaguars are having a big year on the field. By the way, we're not talking about this season, we're talking about the 2005 season. If the Jaguars are winning and are in the playoffs, that means a lot of media attention is going to be focused on Alltel Stadium and those covered seats. Once they're covered, the covers have to stay on.

Dallas from Gainesville, FL:
We've all heard that Jacksonville has a hard time selling out games because it has a small market. Are there teams in the league in a big market that have a tough time selling out games?

Vic: All of the teams in the top 10 markets (if you separate Oakland from San Francisco) in the country are sold out for this season. Atlanta, however, had difficulty selling tickets until last season. The Falcons also have the cheapest ticket in the league.

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