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The facts, the question


They are facts and stats that beg the obvious question, but let's begin with the facts. They are:

• Jaguars games at Alltel Stadium may be attended for the second-least expensive cost in the NFL.

• Only two teams in the league – Buffalo and Arizona – have a lower average ticket price than the Jaguars.

• Since the 2001 season, when the Jaguars had the league's second-most expensive average ticket price, the average cost of a Jaguars ticket has declined 35 percent.

Those are the facts, ladies and gentlemen. Say this or say that, but those are the hard and fast facts about the cost of the NFL in Jacksonville.

What obvious question do those facts beg, you ask? You probably know the answer to that, but let's deal a little more with the facts.

The information provided above was supplied by an outfit called "Team Marketing Report." In the September issue of its publication, TMR referred to something it calls "Fan Cost Index," which is comprised of the price of four average-price tickets, two small draft beers, four small soft drinks, four regular-size hot dogs, parking for one car, two game programs and two least-expensive adult-size adjustable caps. Based on that criterion, the Jaguars' FCI for 2004 is $241.08. Only Buffalo offers a better deal at $228.52.

A closer look at price comparisons among the league's 32 teams clearly indicates the biggest savings in attending a Jaguars game is represented by the cost of a ticket. The Jaguars are on a par with the league's other teams in concession costs, but it's the ticket that drives the Jaguars' FCI. For example, the average cost of a ticket in league-high New England is $75.33. The NFL average is $54.75. Jacksonville is at $40.80.

But what's really impressive is the price adjustment that has occurred since 2001, when the average cost of a Jaguars ticket was $62.85, little more than a dollar under league-high Washington at $64.08. Ouch!

"What it means is that over the last few seasons Wayne (Weaver) has listened intently to the fans, as it relates to pricing, and has made adjustments to where we were, which was in the top third of the league in fan cost index, now down to second-least expensive," Jaguars ticket director Scott Loft said.

All right, now let's get to the obvious question all of this begs to be asked: Given the facts, and given the Jaguars' 3-2 record, why did 10,000 tickets remain for sale as of Wednesday morning? Why is this Sunday's game almost certain to be blacked out?

"I can't answer that question," was Loft's first response.

But that's not true. Try again.

"It has become more and more obvious the size of our stadium vs. the size of our market place is disproportionate," Loft said.

Bingo! So how many seats are going to be covered next year?

"We're still studying that and we'll have a better idea in the next couple of months," Loft said.

Weaver told this reporter in August that about 12,000 seats would be taken out of service for the 2005 season. That would reduce Alltel Stadium's 76,877 seating capacity to the mid-60's. More importantly, all of those seat deductions would occur in the non-premium seating areas, meaning they would apply directly to the blackout number, which would be reduced from its current figure of about 59,000 to about 47,000.

No excuses then, right? Any football hotbed should be able to sell 47,000 seats; especially a football hotbed with the second-least expensive average ticket price in the league. Goodbye blackouts, right?

They are also questions that beg to be answered, and they will be answered next season when the blankets go on and the covers are taken off Jacksonville. At that point, price and size will unite.

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