Jaguars Chief Financial Officer Bill Prescott said the future of professional football in Jacksonville is tied to ticket sales.
"To me, that's the key," Prescott told reporters at a media luncheon at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium on Monday. The luncheon was the first in an offseason series.
Prescott was asked if Jaguars fans should be confident the team won't move. Los Angeles, of course, remains a threat to become the relocation destination for an NFL team in the not-too-distant future.
"I think they should have a lot of confidence. This is a very good market. If we can keep the stadium full," Prescott said, choosing not to finish the sentence. The rest of it, of course, is obvious.
If the Jaguars can fill their stadium, they will remain in Jacksonville. If they fail to fill the stadium, the team could become vulnerable to relocation.
"Is that an accurate representation?" Prescott was asked.
"Yes. I think we'll fill up the general bowl. It's the club seats. That's our key local revenue source. That's our key thing locally," Prescott said of ticket revenue. "In particular, it's the club seats and the club seats we've always struggled with."
Prescott's appearance to kick off the media luncheon series provided a preview of the all-important revenue-sharing decision the Jaguars expect to be the number one development of the March 26-28 NFL owners meetings.
"We have to avoid the baseball model," Prescott said, referring to major league baseball's model of a handful of high-revenue teams competing for a title while the rest of the league is viewed as fodder for the big boys.
"People are starting to see what the new CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) is going to mean. All of a sudden, people are starting to understand the economics," Prescott said. "When we get to 2008, everybody is going to have an idea of how this labor agreement is affecting us."
Prescott's major concern is for the years 2010-2011, when new stadiums in Dallas and New York will open and are likely to drive revenue to threatening heights. At that point, small-market/low-revenue teams such as Jacksonville could find it difficult to spend to the level of the salary cap.
"From our conversation with (Commissioner) Roger (Goodell), we think he understands the issues. Is it going to be what we want? Is it going to be perfect?" Prescott asked of the revenue-sharing plan that's likely to be adopted at the owners meetings. "No, I don't anticipate that."
Prescott said there isn't a consensus among owners on a revenue-sharing plan, but he expects Goodell to make a commissioner's decision at the meetings. The Jaguars are seeking a revenue-sharing plan that would help small-market/low-revenue teams offset the salary cap increases they are realizing as a result of the large-market/high-revenue teams' sharp growth.
The Jaguars' current pursuit of a stadium naming rights sponsor is symbolic of the division between the small-market and large-market teams. Prescott said the team is not close to a naming-rights agreement, classifying current negotiations as "cursory."
Prescott said the Jaguars are seeking $5 million a year on a 15-20-year contract.
"The things we're focused on immediately are: to get a naming-rights sponsor; to get revenue-sharing; keeping the stadium filled; get the (ticket) prices in our general bowl higher – closer to the national average; and we need to keep our club seats filled," Prescott said.
"For 2006, we probably had a slight loss. If we could make one dollar, we'd be just fine," he said.