The Jaguars need to sell about 14,000 season tickets before they can even entertain the thought of televising home games this season. That's the way it is currently for all but one of the Jaguars' eight home games.
Team owner Wayne Weaver provided reporters with the "14,000 season tickets" figure this morning, during a press conference the Jaguars hope will stimulate sales in the team's "Easy Pay" plan.
"We need about 14,000 season tickets to get back to the low 60's (60,000), and that will allow us to do the game-day things that'll fill up the building with the other tickets," Weaver said.
Currently, only the Nov. 10 game against the Steve Spurrier-coached Washington Redskins can be expected to be televised in Jacksonville. The other seven home games would require a major spike in tickets sales for the team to have hope of televising any one of those seven to the Jacksonville market.
"It's not just a possibility, it's a reality if we don't go out and sell these 14,000 tickets," Weaver said when asked about blackouts this season.
The Jaguars have spent an offseason conducting fan forums and addressing fan complaints, but those efforts have yet to be rewarded. Now, with training camp about to begin, the Jaguars are making their final ticket-sales push.
"We've had attrition in our season ticket sales starting in 1997. Why are we losing season ticket holders? Tell us what you don't like. We heard everything," Weaver said.
"There are cup holders in every seat for the 2002 season. Every water cooler in this building is going to dispense cold water, no matter how hot it is outside. There will be fans in every rest room. We said, we're listening," Weaver added. "The biggest thing we learned is you've got to make the games more affordable."
The "Easy Pay" plan is one of the most inexpensive ticket plans in the NFL. Fans may purchase a season ticket for the 2002 season for $20 a month in 12 monthly payments, and for no money down.
"I don't see any lack of (fan) enthusiasm. Our TV ratings are twice either (Florida or Florida State)," Weaver added.
"We've spent a lot of time looking at the demographics of Jacksonville. Anyone who wants to be a season ticket holder here can be a season ticket holder here," he added.
The Jaguars have also responded to fan complaints about concessions. Fans expressed a desire for brand-name food products to be sold at Alltel Stadium concession stands, and Weaver said 50 percent of all concessions offered this season will be brand-name products. Outback Steakhouse will have six Alltel Stadium locations.
"It would be a terrible legacy for us to regress," Weaver said of the decline in ticket sales since 1998.
"That was a big selling point; that we were going to have a huge fan base here in Jacksonville," Weaver said of his sales pitch to NFL owners when Jacksonville was vying to be awarded a franchise. "It's kind of hard for me to go back and say we were only kidding and we're going to reduce the size of the stadium. We can't do that."
Weaver used the Packers as the ultimate example of a successful small-market franchise, citing the Packers' 56,000-fan waiting list for season tickets.
"We've got what we've got and we're going to deal with it," Weaver said firmly when asked if he has considered options to reduce the seating capacity of Alltel Stadium.
He was just as firm about the prospects for the 2002 season.
"I'm more excited about our football team than I have been in a long time. There's an electricity in our locker room I haven't seen in awhile. We're a better football team in 2002 than we were in 1996," he said, referring to the Jaguars' second season, when the team made a Cinderella-like run to the AFC title game.
The Jaguars will have to make a similar surge at the box office to have any chance of moving 14,000 tickets.