SBD/August 22, 2012/FranchisesPrint All
Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Jaguars Owner Shahid Khan yesterday announced that the team will “play a game in London every year for at least four years, starting in 2013,” according to Vito Stellino of the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION. Goodell said that the league “decided to follow a different strategy by having one team play multiple games in London, and the Jaguars volunteered to become that team.” Goodell said, “We believe the fans over there would like to follow a specific team. We believe that four years is an opportunity to test that theory, for the television partners that we have in the UK to put more of a focus on the Jaguars both in the season and outside the season, and to really see does this theory take hold and does it make sense, not only for the league and for our fans, but also the team.” Jaguars President Mark Lamping said this announcement will be viewed in the future as “a game changer, not only for the Jaguars, but for the city of Jacksonville.” Lamping said, “This isn’t a short-term strategy, and that’s why it’s for four years. We think Jacksonville as a community can make a fuller commitment and leverage the opportunity in London.” Khan “started talking about raising the profile of the Jaguars and the city when it was announced in November that he was buying the team.” Khan “didn’t rule out the chance the Jaguars could play games in London for more than four years” (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 8/22). In L.A., Sam Farmer noted with the Jaguars committing to games in London they are now “out of the mix to relocate” to L.A. But they were “a longshot to fill the L.A. vacancy, anyway” (LATIMES.com, 8/21).
A PLAY FOR POPULARITY: The AP’s Mark Long noted the Jaguars by all accounts are “the NFL's least popular team,” as they rank “at or near the bottom of the league in website hits as well as Twitter and Facebook interactions.” Reaction to the London deal “was mixed among the fan base.” But Jaguars TE Marcedes Lewis said, "It's just good for the Jaguar brand. It's exciting to go over there and put ourselves on the map worldwide” (AP, 8/21). The TIMES-UNION’s Stellino notes the Jaguars players “were supportive of the idea of playing a game in London.” Jaguars K Josh Scobee said, “This would give us some popularity overseas and get us some new fans.” Still, Scobee said that he “understands season-ticket holders might be upset about losing one home game a year” (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 8/22).
YES WE KHAN: In Jacksonville, Gene Frenette writes if there is “one thing we've learned about Khan in his eight months of running the Jaguars, he's not afraid to shake things up or pursue a new adventure.” Frenette: “Providing, of course, there's money to be gained, albeit at the risk of surrendering a competitive advantage.” Khan has “spared no expense in trying to improve the Jaguars in all facets of their operation.” Some will “rightfully question whether sacrificing a home game for international exposure puts the team at a competitive disadvantage.” But for the city, there is “no question what the Jaguars are doing will expand its business profile.” Still, it will be “interesting to see what taking a team from the banks of the St. Johns River to the River Thames brings to the Jaguars.” It “didn't seem to do much for the Dolphins or Tampa Bay Buccaneers, both of whom are struggling at the box office and on the field.” But Khan “doesn't worry about that,” as he “sees international dollar signs above anything else” (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 8/22). Meanwhile, Khan has a “60 Minutes” TV crew following him for a segment “expected to air sometime this fall” (JACKSONVILLE.com, 8/22).
IS LONDON CALLING FOR MORE? Goodell said he was unsure about the “time frame” for placing an NFL franchise in London, but said, "I do know that every time we've taken another step in exposing our game to a global audience, they've wanted more." Goodell: "We went from preseason games, because they wanted to see competitive games with the best players, to regular-season games. Now they want more regular-season games. We'll likely take the next step of going from one game a year to two games a year and maybe even beyond that.” He said the league has not “made a final decision" on whether to continue to only play international games in London and not in other global cities, “but part of our theory here is that London could someday be a host for an NFL franchise." Goodell: "Playing in a broader area would expose more people to the game of football but at the end of the day we want to really test the London market and continue to see whether we can grow the game there” (“NFL Total Access,” NFL Network, 8/21). Meanwhile, NBCSPORTS.com’s Michael David Smith noted Jacksonville “won’t be the only NFL city losing one of its home games” to the U.K. In the Jaguars’ announcement yesterday, the team confirmed that the league “is working to add a second game in the U.K. next year.” There is “no word yet on whether that game will also be at Wembley or at another venue in the U.K., and there’s no word on which team will sacrifice one of its home games to travel overseas” (NBCSPORTS.com, 8/21).
The possibility of an NHL lockout "didn’t deter Blackhawks fans from snapping up tickets for the 2012-13 regular season Monday," according to Chris Kuc of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Blackhawks VP/Ticket Operations & Customer Relations Chris Werner said, "The phone lines and the number of ports people could get into on the web reached its capacity right out of the gate." Werner said Blackhawks ticket sales were "trending a little bit ahead of last year. It seems like we have more interest than we’ve had in the past." Kuc noted the team has "led the NHL in attendance four consecutive seasons and dating back to the end of the ’07-08 campaign have had a run of 190 capacity crowds, counting regular season and playoffs." Season-ticket holders "posted a renewal rate of more than 99 percent for '12-13, increasing over last season, and the waiting list for season tickets has grown to around 11,000" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 8/21). CRAIN'S CHICAGO BUSINESS' Danny Ecker noted within a few hours, "about half of the Hawks' 41 home games were sold out, primarily for matchups with 'original six' opponents ... as well as other marquee games, such as the Pittsburgh Penguins, who come to town Nov. 5." Werner said that as of late Monday, "only a few games still had tickets available, and most are single seats or standing-room-only tickets." He "estimates that the first day of sales was '10 to 20 percent ahead' of last year's sales pace" (CHICAGOBUSINESS.com, 8/21).
Packers season-ticket holders have “first dibs on new seating areas at Lambeau Field, allowing fans to upgrade from benches to chair backs with cup holders,” according to Hannah O’Brien of the GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE. The new seats will be available for the ‘13 season, and user fees for fans “who want to relocate will not increase.” Seats not given to existing ticket holders “will be offered to fans on the season-ticket waiting list.” The Packers “anticipate 6,500 seats to be available” (GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE, 8/21). In Milwaukee, Michael Hunt writes Packers non-premium ticket holders will have to make a “tough choice” by next month. They must chose whether to “stay on the cold, hard, backless aluminum benches” or switch to a “real seat with a back and a cup holder.” They have “until Sept. 20 to decide if they want to relocate next season into the south end zone that will have 6,500 new and real seats.” A few "dollars more might buy less of a view, but $89 gets you a genuine 21-inch-wide chair.” Packers President & CEO Mark Murphy yesterday said that “someone in his office set the over-under at 800 fans who will give up the benches for chairs.” And Murphy is “leaning toward the under.” Murphy: "I think it's going to be tough for most people to move. You know what it's like. You have your own neighborhood. You have friends." But he “encourages fans to try the new experience.” If fans choose not to move, that is “fine with the Packers, because the 100,000 names on their waiting list for tickets would be more than happy just to get inside the joint and sit on a Vikings helmet were there no other choice” (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 8/22).
In Buffalo, Mark Gaughan notes the Bills "have sold 43,267 season tickets for 2012," an increase of 15.8% over last season. The total is "up 5,912 over last season, when the team's season sales dropped to a 10-year low of 37,355." This season's total "still is not equal" to what the Bills had in '10. The club "sold 44,084 before that season." The '12 season-ticket total is the "seventh highest in the last 13 years." The Bills "were at 56,011 in sales in 2008 and had 55,194 in 2009" (BUFFALO NEWS, 8/22).
SPEAK NO EVIL: In Pittsburgh, Mark Kaboly noted Steelers S Ryan Clark is "going quiet" following a year in which he "routinely denounced NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell." Clark said, "I think it makes it harder on your team. When it starts to affect the way your team is viewed, when it starts affecting the perception of your organization, you have to look at it and understand the greater good.” Kaboly noted the Steelers "have been at the forefront of a number of hot-button topics over the past two years, from illegal hits to fines to suspensions." Steelers GM Kevin Colbert said that Clark’s decision of not lashing out this year "was not mandated by the organization." Colbert said, "We encourage them to handle their business in a professional manner because it is a part of their job” (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 8/21).
GONE FISHIN': In Miami, Dan Le Batard wrote of the Dolphins, "A decade of mismanagement has finally caught up to the business model." It is "a testament to the overwhelming popularity of football that the Dolphins didn’t hemorrhage customers earlier than this." The Dolphins, "arrogant as an organization for so long, have been humbled" by the experience of being the featured team on HBO's "Hard Knocks." The team has to "keep the games on free TV, even if it means selling a slice of their soul and selling out their first-year coach on paid TV, because fans are looking for exits and the next exit ramp right after 'uninteresting' is marked 'irrelevant'" (MIAMI HERALD, 8/19).
TIGER BY THE TAIL: In Cincinnati, Kelly & Reedy noted the first Bengals training camp held at Paul Brown Stadium "came to a close Sunday." The team held five practices open to the public "which drew 19,500 fans." Bengals Business Development Dir Bob Bedinghaus said, "The number of practices we have open, the number of times we practice in the stadium are going to be some of the things we will take a look at." The Bengals "unofficially" drew 29,360 for the 16 camp practices, which was "close to the estimated 29,448 who were at Georgetown in 2010 for 17 practices" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 8/20).
SECONDS FOR THE SECOND CITY? Former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley has previously discussed Chicago landing a second NFL team, and the Chicago Tribune’s David Haugh said, “Chicago, I think, could support a second football team. There is enough football fervor. It would be the NFL; the NFL sells itself. But I have a hard time seeing how just politically that Chicago could get a second team before Los Angeles gets a first. ... Also, I think London might be ahead of Chicago.” Comcast SportsNet Chicago’s Dave Kaplan said a second NFL team in Chicago “would sell-out immediately" ("Chicago Tribune Live," Comcast SportsNet Chicago, 8/21).