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Only the strong survive

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

Greg from Jacksonville:
I know you have to cover this because it's a relevant story, but for love of all things holy, please do not give a forum to every knucklehead that wants to whine about the reason he or she doesn't buy tickets. How many times can we listen to these idiots complain that the prices are too high, the players are overpaid, not enough community service, yada, yada, yada? You hit it on the head a long time ago: No more excuses. This town is overflowing with houses exceeding $250k. Their kids are wearing $200 worth of clothes, driving modified cars, talking on cell phones, while playing video games. With all of the accommodations the Jags have made, there really are no excuses left. My condolences to those that can't afford them; maybe tragedy has struck, or they're a hurricane victim, or they were abducted by aliens.

Vic: It's important that those in Jacksonville who have the means to purchase tickets do, in fact, buy tickets, so those who are less fortunate are able to see the games on TV. In my opinion, there are enough people of means to fill this stadium.

Steven from Jacksonville:
You said the Jags' current naming rights deal for Alltel pays the Jags $600,000 a year. How many years do they have left on the current deal with Alltel? Have they tried to renegotiate? Finally, did they fire the person who signed this below-market deal for naming rights?

Vic: It's not a below-market deal. That's the kind of deal the smallest market in the league gets. There are two years remaining on it. We need to listen more carefully to what Wayne Weaver is telling us. Instead of blocking his message out and immediately rejecting it as political rhetoric, listen to what he's saying and accept it as an accurate characterization of the situation. When you put Milwaukee into the Green Bay market and Rochester, NY, and Hamilton, Ontario, into the Buffalo market, Jacksonville is overwhelmingly the smallest market in the league. It was understood in the very beginning that Jacksonville would have to over-achieve to play with the big boys, because the revenue streams other than ticket sales would not be competitive with the rest of the league.

Bill from Philadelphia, PA:
Another reason the Saints may be the first choice to be transplanted to LA: What could be more appropriate than the Saints playing in the city of Angels? I can see all the marketing gurus just drooling over the possibilities already. Can't you already picture the "A" in Saints with a halo wrapped around it?

Vic: Well, that's all very nice, but moving a football team is very difficult and involves a lot more than helmet logos and marketing gimmicks. I agree the Saints are clearly a top candidate for LA. They have major attendance and stadium problems and that's the time-honored formula for franchise flight, but how is the NFL going to continue to use New Orleans as a Super Bowl site if it has no team there? It's unlikely that whatever stadium exists in New Orleans will be maintained to Super Bowl standards if it has no tenant. You almost have to have a team in New Orleans if it's going to continue to host the Super Bowl, and the NFL probably considers New Orleans its premium Super Bowl site. This isn't easy stuff. I wouldn't take anything for granted.

Jason from Jacksonville:
I did a head count this morning and nine guys here at the office read your column every day. However, they don't believe you really answer questions. Please show them you're the real deal.

Vic: I really answer questions.

Jim from Jacksonville:
Mathew from Neptune Beach made an excellent point and you are dead right about the hammers. I am a contractor and I have benefited from the impact the Jaguars have made on Jacksonville. If the Jaguars leave, a lot of our jobs will leave with them. If the Jaguars make the playoffs this year, you won't be able to buy a seat next year. Buy them now while the market is down.

Vic: It's all about supply and demand, isn't it? I wish I had a dollar for every time I've said, "I could've bought that piece of property 10 years ago for …"

Carlos from Mexico City, Mexico:
Beside Jacksonville and Green Bay, what other franchises are in small markets?

Vic: Indianapolis and Nashville are small markets. So are the four teams in the AFC North: Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Pittsburgh. Buffalo is the AFC East's small-market team. All of the AFC West teams are technically small markets, though Kansas City and Oakland are clearly a cut below Denver and San Diego. The NFC East has four big-market teams. Minneapolis in the NFC North is a small-market team. The NFC South has two small-market clubs, Carolina and New Orleans, and Tampa seems to be the dividing line between small and large markets. Seattle is right on the edge, too, while NFC West mates St. Louis and Phoenix fit into the small-market category. I tend to draw the line at the two million TV households figure. That means (working from bottom to top) Houston, Detroit, Atlanta, Washington, Dallas, Boston, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Chicago and New York are the league's big markets.

Brian from Jacksonville:
If the Saints move to LA, will that erase all discussion about the Jags moving out of Jacksonville?

Vic: That's a really good question. My understanding is that there isn't another market capable of sustaining an NFL franchise, but what about the abandoned market. In the modern era, every city that's lost a team has gotten a new team. I'm talking about cities such as St. Louis, Baltimore, Cleveland and Houston. Los Angeles figures to the next abandoned city to get a new team. Would New Orleans get a new team? I don't know. As I stated above, New Orleans' status as a premium Super Bowl destination makes it awfully attractive for the NFL to have a team there. What if the Vikings left Minneapolis or the Chargers left San Diego? Hey, those are awfully big and vibrant markets to leave empty. What I'm trying to say is it's just not about keeping the Jaguars from moving to LA; it's about having a franchise in Jacksonville that is successful. When your franchise is strong, cities wanting a franchise look elsewhere. They look for the weak ones. Didn't Jacksonville try to steal the Colts?

Keith from Jacksonville:
If worse came to worse and it was imminent the Jags would leave town, do you see another corporate bailout similar to the "NFL Now" club seat ticket drive to convince the league Jacksonville had the passion for an NFL team?

Vic: I was thinking the same thing yesterday. It could come to that.

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