The Jaguars' on-field momentum from '17 has "carried into 2018 from a business standpoint," as the franchise feels like it has "turned a corner and that all of the ideas and effort put forth" from '12-17 are beginning to pay off, according to Ryan O'Halloran of the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION. The Jaguars "will have the highest season ticket renewal rate" since at least '04 and are 20% "above last year’s renew rate and have over 7,500 new sales." Ninety-percent of the people who "put down $100 deposits in December have converted to full-time season ticket holders." Jaguars President Mark Lamping said, “If we hit a home run, the highest we could get is 50,000 season tickets. We’re selling a couple hundred season tickets per day.” O'Halloran notes an emphasis for the team is "making sure first-time season-ticket holders renew." The Jaguars have also "started a program" to focus on new season-ticket holders. It is noticeable the Jaguars have "connected with Grunt Style -- a lifestyle and apparel company founded by a military veteran." In the North End Zone "will be Camp Grunt Style." Meanwhile, last season's London game represented 11% of the Jaguars’ "local revenue, slightly down" from '16 and "below the high mark" of 15% in '13. If the London number "does go down, it is a reflection of the Jacksonville-area revenues going up and taking a bigger piece of the pie" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 4/20).
Go behind the scenes of the new uniform's photo shoot and hear more about what the players think.
NEVER GO OUT OF STYLE: In Jacksonville, Matt Soergel writes the Jaguars' new uniforms are "straightforward and no-nonsense." The jerseys are "black for the primary home uniform, white for away, teal for an alternate." And the "notorious shiny-gold and flat-black helmet is gone, replaced by a shiny black helmet, just like the original." Fans can also "say goodbye to the contrasting jerseys sleeves and to the military-inspired Jags patch above the heart." There is a "slight contrasting cuff on the sleeves, and the black and white jerseys have a small contrasting stripe near the neck," but the "overall look is of a simple one-color jersey." The new pants are black, white or teal and "don’t even have a stripe down the side." There was some speculation that a "slightly updated version of the team’s original uniform was in the offing," but "other than the helmet, there’s little resemblance." There is "certainly no prowling Jaguar on the sleeve, as the old teams had" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 4/20). USA TODAY's Nate Davis notes the "retro-ish helmets will retain the updated Jaguar logo" the team switched to in '13 and "will otherwise use a high-gloss black paint" (USA TODAY, 4/20).
WHO LET THE DOGS ... IN? In Jacksonville, Beth Reese Cravey notes TIAA Bank Field "will soon have a dog park as one of the Jaguars' latest moves to improve" fans' experience. Beginning the first preseason game of '18, the dog park "will be open on the stadium’s south fan deck." The park "will be a partnership" between the team and Jacksonville-based pet resort company Pet Paradise. Pet Paradise President & CEO Fernando Acosta-Rua said that the park "will have artificial turf, a canine-only water feature and staff and a veterinarian on site" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 4/20).
The A’s were "so thrilled" with Tuesday’s free game against the White Sox at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum that they "might offer another freebie in a future season," according to John Shea of the S.F. CHRONICLE. A's VP/Communications & Community Catherine Aker said, "Knowing [President] Dave Kaval, I think we’ll probably look to do this again." Shea notes the A’s believe a "significant number of Tuesday’s 46,028 fans attended their first game." The team said that 200,000 tickets initially were "requested from 35,000 accounts, averaging between five and six tickets per account." Aker said that between 20-25% of the accounts "were new." That equates to 7,000-9,000 "additional registered fans with whom the A’s can continue communications." It "doesn’t mean they all were newcomers to the Coliseum, but some obviously were." Though 46,028 was shown in box scores, it "won’t be considered the official number." An MLB spokesperson said that the league is "not registering the game as a home date in attendance calculations because the standard is paid attendance." The A’s said that they "want to be more transparent than in the past with reporting attendance totals, which can be a gray area for some teams." Kaval has said that one reason announced attendance numbers are down from last year is the A’s are "reducing the number of ticket brokers selling A’s tickets in order to improve customer service and keep the resale value for season-ticket holders who choose to unload unused tickets" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 4/20).
STILL WORK TO DO: THE ATHLETIC's Phil Taylor wrote it is "impossible not to love what the A’s did on Tuesday night." The event earned them "national attention and some local notice." It was a "good idea well-executed." However, no matter how many "temporary splashes they make with smart marketing, everyone knows that nothing will change for the A’s on a long-term basis until they break ground on a new ballpark or a major Coliseum renovation, and/or until they prove to fans that they are out of the business of trading away their best players before they get expensive." A new downtown ballpark "would be ideal." A complete renovation of the Coliseum would "likely be enough to get fans to come out again, provided the organization puts a team on the field that can consistently compete" (THEATHLETIC.com, 4/19).
MLS and Precourt Sports Venues "jointly filed a motion to dismiss" an Ohio lawsuit aimed at keeping the Crew from relocating to Austin, on the grounds the Art Modell Law "does not apply to the Crew and is unconstitutional," according to Chris Bils of the AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN. The untested and apparently "unprecedented statute" was enacted in '96 after the Browns moved to Baltimore. The law is "designed to prevent sports owners whose teams play in tax-supported facilities and receive financial assistance from the state or local governments from ceasing play at those facilities unless they receive permission from the state and local governments or give six months advance notice of their intentions." The law also states that the political subdivision or local investors "must be given an 'opportunity to purchase' the team during the six-month notice period." The defendants say the law "does not apply to the Crew" because MLS, not PSV, owns the franchise, and because of this, MLS is the "only defendant that could be subject to the statute." MLS and PSV argued that the statute "violated the dormant commerce clause, privileges and immunities clause of the U.S. Constitution and the contracts clause of the national and state constitutions" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 4/20).
MEET & GREET: In Columbus, Andrew Erickson in a front-page piece notes MLS officials and President & Deputy Commissioner Mark Abbott were in Columbus last month to "meet with Columbus Partnership CEO Alex Fischer and potential local investors" for the Crew. The meeting also "included a review of potential local stadium sites for the team." Fischer and Abbott "did not elaborate on next steps between the league, Columbus officials and potential Crew investors." MLS Commissioner Don Garber made an appearance at an AP Sports Editors meeting in N.Y. on Thursday, saying that he "feels for the Crew's small but passionate fan base amid the team's potential relocation" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 4/20).
In Miami, Armando Salguero writes the Dolphins' new uniforms take an "evolutionary rather than revolutionary approach." Gone is the deep blue that "was a significant color palette outlining the numbers and helmet strip." That change, which "came with a new logo" in '13, has been "revised to closer resemble the original colors the team wore at its inception" in '66. The orange on the new uniforms is also a "bit bolder in that it is darker" (MIAMI HERALD, 4/20). In Ft. Lauderdale, Omar Kelly notes the alterations are "so subtle they are hard for the untrained eye to notice" (South Florida SUN SENTINEL, 4/20).
ONE-WAY TICKET: In Atlanta, Tim Tucker reports the Falcons "do not anticipate having any single-game tickets on sale" in '18, given a "limited availability." This would be the second consecutive season the Falcons "haven't put seats on sale to the general public on a single-game basis." Fans who want to purchase single-game tickets "can, of course, do so on the secondary market from resellers" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 4/20).
FEMININE TOUCH: Bills co-Owner Kim Pegula said she likes to think she and her husband Terry are "really involved" in the vetting and selection of players for the roster, "but not really." Pegula said, "We don't watch film. We're not there at all the games. I personally don't know what I'm watching anyways in terms of that so we let them really make the decisions but we want to be part of the conversation." Pegula said of having more women in positions of power on team and league levels: "We all bring different ideas, different backgrounds, just different experiences and I think that we can be a part of that conversation. It would definitely help the league moving forward" ("NFL Total Access," NFL Network, 4/18).