JACKSONVILLE, Florida—The NFL and the Jacksonville Jaguars announced Tuesday that the small-market franchise will play one home game in London for four consecutive seasons beginning in 2013 — a step the team believes will broaden its fan base and take some pressure off locals who have mostly failed to fill the stands in recent years.
I have to admit I was a bit shocked when I saw this announcement. I’m fully supportive of spreading the popularity of the National Football League overseas, but I have to call this one the way I see it. This is a disrespectful move by the NFL towards those trying to bring professional football back to the Los Angeles market.
The Jaguars were recently sold to a group that was clearly outbid by one, if not multiple groups wanting to move the team to a new venue in the southern California. Those purchase attempts were foiled in effort to keep the Jaguars in Jacksonville where both local & regional support doesn’t warrant an NFL club.
As reported by the Wall Street Journal;
- “By all accounts, the Jaguars are the NFL’s least popular team. They rank at or near the bottom of the league in website hits as well as Twitter and Facebook interactions.”
- “Missing the playoffs in 10 of 12 seasons has made attracting fans a problem in Jacksonville.”
- “…the Jaguars decided to cover up nearly 10,000 seats with tarps to reduce capacity and limit television blackouts.”
- “Playing an annual game in London will reduce season-ticket prices by 10 percent, possibly making the remaining package a more affordable and enticing option.”
Are you kidding me? If the NFL supported former owner Wayne Weaver in blocking the attempt by the other suitors to purchase and move the Jags to L.A., only to have the new ownership send one of eight home games overseas for 4 straight years, reduce the season ticket prices for “football crazy” Florida, and then perhaps set up their own efforts to “MOVE” to London permanently in the future is thought to be best for the game… thanks for the support.
The economic impact of just a single NFL contest on the surrounding community is the very reason so many cities would LOVE to have an NFL team in their area. How about Portland, San Antonio, Memphis, Birmingham, etc… ?
But London over Los Angeles? That’s a slap at L.A. pro football fans that deserve better.
Here’s hoping you get your team soon and the home opener is against the London Monarchs (errr, Jaguars).