SBJ/Oct. 14-20, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Jaguars’ rough start won’t lead to blackouts

It’s been a rough season so far for the Jacksonville Jaguars, with their winless start through five games and all by blowout margins. Not surprisingly, it has shown at the gate.

Team President Mark Lamping said the club is down 10 percent in ticket sales, though he declined to offer specific figures.

The team is not in danger, however, of having its games blacked out by the NFL rule that requires at least 85 percent of seats sold to ensure local telecasts. The Jaguars are committed to buying any unsold tickets to ensure that does not occur. So far, that has not happened because the team is using the NFL’s policy on complimentary tickets. This allows teams to take 17,000 comp tickets during a season and count them against unsold tickets, Lamping said. The team should soon use up its comp ticket allotment, he added.

ABOVE: After an 0-5 start, the Jacksonville Jaguars are down 10 percent at the gate, team President Mark Lamping says. BELOW: Owners don’t want teams dodging “Hard Knocks.”
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
The Jaguars seat 67,246 at EverBank Field, down from the stadium’s capability of seating 76,867 for games.

NOT BLACKING OUT: Speaking of blackouts, the NFL is on pace to set a record low for number of blackouts, which is seven in 2006. Through Week 5, no games had been blacked out. Last year, there were 15 for the full year, down from 16 in 2011 and 26 in 2010.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell last week declined to project how many blackouts there might be in 2013, but he credited the teams with aggressive policies to ensure more fans come to the games in an era of deluxe in-home entertainment systems. That said, the Tampa
Bay Buccaneers’ decision to ensure all of their games are not blacked out by buying up needed tickets is a big help. Last year, the Bucs suffered six blackouts, or more than a third of the league total. The Bucs were projecting before the season only two blackouts at most, but that was before a winless start through the first quarter of the year and controversy off the field.

Also aiding the likelihood of a record low number of blackouts is that two other winless teams through the first quarter of the season, the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers, boast strong and loyal fan bases.

Where will any blackouts come from? The Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers have struggled in the past to sell out in outdated stadiums, while the Buffalo Bills last week were on the verge of a blackout. Of course, comparing 2013 with the blackout low of 2006 is a bit apples to oranges. In 2006, teams had to sell out 100 percent, whereas last year the league adopted the new 85 percent threshold.

BOFA TO ADVISE FALCONS: The Atlanta Falcons chose Bank of America as the team’s financial adviser for its stadium project. The team is receiving $200 million in public funds but has to come up with the remainder of what is expected to be a $1 billion project.

Bank of America will advise on choosing a lender, which may end up being the bank itself. The bank also will advise on what type of debt to choose, and the mix of equity, debt and contractually obligated stadium revenue that will go to paying the Falcons’ share.

Bank of America’s Elliott McCabe is the lead on the assignment.

HARD LINE ON “HARD KNOCKS”: Teams may be compelled to appear on HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” the docu-series that tracks a single team during training camp. Owners voted that only a team which has made the playoffs in the preceding two years, or has a new coach or has been on “Hard Knocks” in the previous half-decade can bow out if the league can’t find a volunteer.

The New York Giants voted against the measure, and it will be interesting to see which team becomes the first one selected involuntarily.

INS & OUTS: Frank Supovitz, NFL senior vice president of events, was hobbling around the meetings with his leg in a brace and a crutch in hand. At a sponsor flag football event in Baltimore on July 29, he was knocked over by someone on the field — he still doesn’t know who — and shattered his fibula. A colleague had to rent a van to get him back to New York. It may take a full year for Supovitz to walk normally again. He pledges no more flag football games. … Even owners get stopped: Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis was spotted here trying to enter a credentialed area without his credential on and was stopped by a security guard. He good-naturedly dug through his pockets, searching in vain, before Goodell happened by and pledged for his owner. Goodell, as it happened, did not have a credential on, either — but, of course, everyone knows the commish. … Other than the protester who came to the basement meeting area of the Ritz-Carlton here and threw some pamphlets on the ground before security escorted him out, the Washington Redskins name controversy did not provide the circus it could have. Goodell answered the question as he always has — the name is up to the team, the moniker is not meant to be offensive, but we respect all opinions — and team owner Dan Snyder appears to be done talking about it. The local press was out in force, but this meeting offered them little content.

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