Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver told reporters on Wednesday that "Orlando would be the most logical choice" for the team to play an out-of-market game. Weaver was responding to a news story in the "Orlando Sentinel" that suggested the Jaguars might play games in Orlando in the future.
Weaver clarified that he was speaking specifically of out-of-market games as a result of the NFL possibly going to an 18-game schedule beginning in 2012. The Jaguars, of course, are having difficulty selling tickets for their games this season and are likely to have blackouts for all of their home games. Playing an out-of-market game would be a way of avoiding an increase in the number of games played in Jacksonville.
"It's highly likely the NFL is going to have a restructured schedule, possibly in 2012. It might make sense to play an out-of-market game. Over time, we've reached out to the Orlando market. We haven't done a good job of it and we haven't been successful. Wouldn't it make sense to play an out-of-market game (in Orlando) and try to energize that fan base?" Weaver said to reporters in the owner's office on Wednesday.
The stumbling block to such a game is the lack of an NFL-caliber stadium in Orlando.
"There are two steps that have to be taken before we know it's realistic: 1.) Is the league going to restructure to 18 games? 2.) Orlando would have to renovate (the Citrus Bowl) or build a new facility," said Weaver, who added that he has not spoken to anyone in Orlando about playing games there.
Is it possible the Jaguars could play a preseason game in Orlando prior to 2012?
"I wouldn't rule it out but we haven't thought about it," Weaver added.
The Buffalo Bills began playing games in neighboring Toronto last season, which helped reduce the ticket-buying burden in Buffalo. The Jacksonville-Orlando idea is founded on the principles of the Buffalo-Toronto model.
"It's worked very well," Weaver said.
"I don't want to talk about saving the franchise because you know how I feel about this market. I still feel this is a great market and will be a great market," Weaver added. "This is in no way a threat to this market."
Poor ticket sales remain the greatest threat to the Jaguars in Jacksonville. The Jaguars sold 46,520 tickets to their home-opener and had sold just over 45,000 for Sunday's game against Tennessee, as of noon on Wednesday.
Can Jacksonville remain a viable NFL market?
"That's the $64,000 question," Weaver said. "We know we can't be a viable NFL city if we sell 46,000 tickets in a 66,000-seat stadium."
Weaver said London might also be an option for the Jaguars to play an out-of-market game.