The bad news for Jacksonville residents is that the Jaguars might soon be playing some of their games in another city.
The good news for Jacksonville residents is that they’ll still be able to drive to games that not enough Jacksonville residents are choosing to attend in Jacksonville.
The bad news for the Buccaneers is that another NFL team might be invading their extended market.
Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver tells Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel that if/when the NFL expands the regular season to 18 games, the Jags might play some of their home games in Orlando.
“There’s certainly the possibility that we would play some out-of-market
games,” Weaver said. “If it happened, Orlando would be the best option
and most reasonable location.
“In the past, we have reached out to try and cultivate that market and
haven’t had as much success as we would have liked. We probably need to
do a better job. That’s a given. We are looking at a long-term strategy
and thinking out of the box on how we can build a fan base in Orlando.”
But, surely, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would have something to say about this, since Orlando is roughly 90 minutes away from Raymond James Stadium. (Indeed, during Super Bowl week in Tampa several of the related activities were held in Orlando.) If the Jags begin to play games in Orlando, folks in Orlando who otherwise would drive to Tampa to see like NFL action would otherwise stay put.
And then, if they establish an emotional connection to the Jags, they’d possibly be more inclined to make the longer drive (by roughly an hour) to Jacksonville than to go to Tampa if they decide to take in an out-of-town game.
Also, we think that Weaver’s trial balloon applies regardless of whether the NFL expands its schedule to 18 (or, more likely, 17) games. Really, the number of regular-season games doesn’t matter because the maximum annual package of home games — preseason and real season — will remain at 10. (Actually, it’ll be at least one game lower than that because the extra regular-season games most likely would be played out of the U.S. and at other neutral sites.)
Bottom line? Like the Bills, the Jags are exploring the possibility of becoming a regional team in order to increase their overall financial viability in their current home. Unlike the Bills, the Jags have picked a city that would brush up against the extended market of another NFL team.
So, basically, this one could get juicy.