Originally Posted by Gene Frenette
Jaguars' real concern is economics
By GENE FRENETTE, The Times-Union
Jaguars fans would prefer to read about which players the team intends to pursue in free agency, who the starting quarterback will be next season, or likely targets with the 17th overall pick in the NFL draft.
Sorry to disappoint you, but I want to touch on an underplayed subject with bigger long-term implications - Jacksonville's ability to survive in a 32-team economic jungle.
This is a convoluted and unpopular issue because nobody supporting a family on a $40,000 salary wants to hear about NFL owners and players fighting to divide billions of dollars.
But if Jaguars fans want to know why there's been speculation about the team moving, or why season-ticket prices are seemingly taking an excessive jump, then it's important to understand Jacksonville's status on the NFL money landscape.
The Jaguars finished 27th in the league last year in average ticket price ($45), which is a bigger bargain when you consider that includes 11,200 club seats - among the NFL's highest number of premium seats - into the calculation. This year, the Jaguars' average price will increase to $50, far below the league average of $63.
Before 46,000 season-ticket renewals accuse the Jaguars of a senseless money grab, they need to know that owner Wayne Weaver is merely trying to keep pace with a money train that is putting small-market teams at a competitive disadvantage.
Many thought it became a non-issue when a new Collective Bargaining Agreement was signed last year, but the truth is NFL owners still haven't agreed on a revenue-sharing formula.
"It's hard to get into these discussions because it comes across as whining," said Tim Connolly, the Jaguars' Senior Vice-President of Business Development. "The NFL agreed to give the players 59.5 percent of the league's average revenue, but it's not the same amount of the pie for everybody."
By Connolly's estimation, the Jaguars' player salaries eat up 65-70 percent of the team's overall revenues, compared to 40-45 percent for the Washington Redskins and New England Patriots. That's a lot more cash high-revenue clubs have to throw around in signing bonuses than Jacksonville.
Unless the NFL evens the playing field with a sound revenue-sharing plan, the Jaguars may eventually field weaker rosters.
Consider this: the Jaguars received $620,000 per year from Alltel for the stadium naming rights, which have expired, while the Patriots pocket $8 million per year from Gillette.
Right now, the Jaguars are struggling to find a new stadium sponsor for even half of what the Patriots are getting.
That 28-3 playoff rout New England put on the Jaguars two years ago is nothing compared to the money gap between them. The Patriots even have naming rights on their parking lot. Ford puts brand names of its cars there, reportedly at a price higher than what the Jaguars may command in a new stadium deal.
The Patriots are so shrewd at marketing, you wonder if they'll try to sell the naming rights to Tom Brady's baby.
Here's the economic reality: until Jacksonville's population and income rises significantly, the Jaguars will be in a money crunch.
Pay attention, Jaguars fans. When this franchise will return to being a Super Bowl contender is far from its only worry.