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Blackouts solution? Send teams packing to London

Posted on: September 4, 2009 4:45 pm
There are reports that as many as 10 to 12 NFL clubs could face blackouts this year, prompting outraged observers to call on the league to change its TV policy. But I'm not sure that is necessary. In fact, I'd try another approach with teams having trouble selling out, and it looks like this: Send them where they're appreciated.

Send them to London.

You heard me. London, England. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell this week said that regular-season international games have been so successful the league is considering "the idea of playing multiple games in London as early as next year."  Wow, now that was sudden. But so was the drop-off in league-wide season-ticket sales, which got me to thinking the two could be ... no, should be ... related.

Feeling unwanted at home? No problem. Go where people will stand in line to see you. Go where you're a unique attraction. Go where fans care more about the product than the people endorsing it. In short, go to England. 

Look, the economy in this country isn't going to pick up overnight, which means that a city like Jacksonville isn't about to start packing the house next year. The Jags are an extreme example of a good football team gone bad, and I'm not talking about their play on the field; I'm talking about their season ticket sales, which plunged from 42,000 to 25,000.

Trust me, the league has noticed. In fact, Goodell said he was "a little disappointed" with the Jags' lagging ticket sales and was working with owner Wayne Weaver "to see what we can do to support him." Well, I'd like to pitch in, too, so here's my idea, Roger: Offer your support by taking one game out of a half-filled stadium and exporting it to Europe where, I guarantee, there will be a lot more than 25,000 people who show up.

Yeah, yeah, I know, naysayers tell me you want a marketable product -- like New England and Tampa Bay this season -– and that Jacksonville isn't a sexy sell. New England is one of the league's premier franchises, while the Bucs are owned by the same family –- the Glazers -– that owns Manchester United, one of the premier soccer teams in the world. So the game is easy to market from either side, which it might not be were the Jags involved. At least, that's what critics contend.

But what about Miami two years ago? The Dolphins not only were in the midst of a 1-15 slide; they were coming off a 6-10 finish that got their head coach fired. And while their opponents, the New York Giants, were a playoff team the previous season, they barely made it to 8-8 -– with coach Tom Coughlin escaping the firing line when he beat Washington in the regular-season finale.

Granted, the Giants have a storied history. So does Miami. But neither was particularly attractive in the middle of the 2007 season.

That's why I put clubs like Jacksonville and, say, Oakland on the table for discussion. The Jags have been to the playoffs two of the past four years. The Raiders haven't done anything but just lose, baby, since reaching Super Bowl XXXVII, but they have the long history and passionate following that made Miami an attractive export. Both teams experienced local TV blackouts, with Jacksonville facing the potential of eight blackouts this fall, and both would like to solve the problem.

So solve it. Send them to London where they can sell tickets and won't have spectators disguised as empty seats.

My point is this: You can kill two problems with one bold move here. You want a show of hands for teams willing to move one of their eight home games to England, and good luck. Clubs don't like to forfeit the competitive advantage that goes with a home game. But they don't like to play in front of empty stands, either.

We already know there are 10-12 clubs facing possible blackouts, and those teams seem like logical candidates to put in front of 80,000 people in London. So start taking names –- Jacksonville, please stand forward -– and start collecting passports.

"It would not be far-fetched to think this is something that should be talked about," said one league source.

I couldn't agree more. It's time to start talking to Jacksonville.


Since: May 20, 2009
Posted on: September 5, 2009 12:55 pm

Blackouts solution? Send teams packing to London

If you can get the players to take a 20% pay cut then maybe tickets would be reasonable.

Send your complaints to the Players Association.  The owners are hand cuffed with these salaries and pass it on to us.

And as usual I think the author of this article is an idiot.  Judge should be selling newspapers on the corner.

Since: Apr 23, 2008
Posted on: September 5, 2009 6:30 am

Blackouts solution? Send teams packing to London

Strange that Manchester Utd manage to fill their 75,000 stadium at least 20 times a season (as opposed to 8-10 in the NFL), Arsenal likewise with their 75,000 seater, and there are a host of other Premiership teams filling their stadia far more often than their NFL counterparts.  So your comment about economics is nonsense.

The real reason that this would be a failure is that the NFL is simply not that popular in the UK.  I doubt there are a million people who follow it with any sort of regularity, and while fans might be happy to pay for one-off experiences, repeat performances would simply not sell out.

Since: Sep 4, 2009
Posted on: September 4, 2009 11:20 pm

Blackouts solution? Send teams packing to London

"The not only were in the midst of a 1-15 slide; they were coming off a 6-10 finish that got their head coach fired."

Uhhh, Mr. Judge, Nick "The Biggest Douchebag In The Universe" Saban wasn't exactly fired.

Since: Jul 23, 2008
Posted on: September 4, 2009 11:13 pm

Blackouts solution? Send teams packing to London

Oustanding Mr. Red. The most important thing to the players is in making obscene salaries and of equal importance to the owners is in making obscene profits.

Anything the league, owners, or players may have to say about how much they care about the fans is nothing more than lip service as their actions continually say otherwise.

Since: Sep 4, 2009
Posted on: September 4, 2009 7:15 pm

Blackouts solution? Send teams packing to London

I first admit that I am a Jag fan.  In fact I have had season tickets for the past 2 years and attended many games in the preceding years.  Jacksonville is an easy target to be sure; we have not sold out our stadium regularly and this results in blackouts if Weaver or some corporation does not come to the rescue. However I feel that you and the other national columnists that love to use Jacksonville as the example of a team and fan base that don't meet the expectations of what an NFL community should be are missing the point of what is really going on here.  This town is raising a whole generation that is growing up Jags fans and football means a great deal to this community.  The pay scale, housing mess, and general recession have hurt the ability for the average Jacksonville resident to go to all games, but the passion is there and will continue to grow.  The blackouts are an antiquated way to bully people to go to games.  How about something novel like offering them on pay per view with the game revenue going to the individual teams, that way people can continue to develop the fan base and see how great the home game experience can be.  Jacksonville is and will continue to grow into an even greater NFL town, but limited TV access to the games, hearing about how bad we area as fans constantly, and the impending move to LA or London from people who don't live in this community  really is just an unfortunate result of NFL/ bigger city ego, lack of empathy, and ignorance.

Since: Mar 4, 2009
Posted on: September 4, 2009 7:11 pm

What the...?

Wait a minute, mr. sportswriter just stop. First off, quit bashing my city. Have a heart why don't you. I have been a Jaguars season ticket holder for eight years straight (this year included) and I'll be honest, I almost HAD to give up my tickets this year. Why...because my full-time job pretty much turned into a part-time job, so you have a choice, feed yourself and your family or make millionares richer. I'm pretty sure you're making a pretty penny mr. sportswriter, so you only see it from one side. It's a very sensitive topic and you really need to be careful because you could affend a lot of people with your comments. I love my JAGS diehard and the only reason I was able to afford my tickets was because of the payment plan the team offered. What the NFL needs to do is step back and look at the source of the problem, it's simple...player's salaries. The salary cap has risen well over a 100 million since the Jags came to town and it's still going up as we speak. By doing so, the NFL dug themselves in a hole because they were not prepared for this economic crisis and its evident because they had to lay off employees as well. It's not that people don't want to go (believe me, I talk to Jags fans all the time), they can't afford to go. Are players stepping up to plate? NO...they're steady asking for more money which equals even higher tickets prices, concession prices and parking prices. I've said this before and I'll say it again, the NFL is taking the game away from the fans...and what's stinks about it  is the fact that the NFL knows it but they're so money hungry to the point that they just look the other way and refuse to acknowledge it. This next CBA is going to be very crucial. The fate of my hometown Jags hangs in the balance. If they don't come up with a better system which helps support big and small markets alike, I expect to lose this team within the next five years. There's not much I can do, so just I'll enjoy them while they're here.

Since: Sep 4, 2009
Posted on: September 4, 2009 6:50 pm

Blackouts solution? Send teams packing to London

The NFL needs to realize that many are struggling and lift the blackout rules this season.  Show that you understand and support your fan base durning these tough times.  Sending games overseas will only alienate the fanbase.  As TMQ says "Nothing says the NFL has to remain popular."

Since: Nov 11, 2006
Posted on: September 4, 2009 6:50 pm

Blackouts solution? Send teams packing to London

Here in Detroit we love our team but its hard to dish out a couple 100 bucks per game when they harldy ever win a game. On top of that we havr a 15% unemployment rate.. If they cant find a way to let us watch the Lionson t.v in these times then something is wrong!

Since: Dec 6, 2007
Posted on: September 4, 2009 6:27 pm

Blackouts solution? Send teams packing to London

How about they just lower ticket prices to where the average NFL fan can get into a game?  Im a diehard bengals fan and one of the bigger football nuts youll find but ive never been able to go to a game because of the outrageous cost for a family or friends to go.  After paying nearly 100 bucks a ticket for a DECENT seat, on top of the parking, drinks and food, your looking at spending a huge chunk of a paycheck, if not the whole thing, to go watch 4 hours of a team that might not even win?  Cut the american economy some slack.

Since: Dec 26, 2006
Posted on: September 4, 2009 6:13 pm

Blackouts solution? Send teams packing to London

Keep the games here. How about lowering the ticket prices so normal people can go see the game instead of mostly white collar people? I would have to use 2 weeks pay to go to a game and do anything with my family. But I pay my bills first so it's the TV for me.

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