Making a Case for the Jacksonville Jaguars to Move to Los Angeles
With few exceptions, the NFL has strategically located its teams in many of the most populated cities across the country. In fact, there are very few major metropolitan areas that are without an NFL franchise.
In fact, out of the10 largest cities in the country, only two do not have a football team—and Los Angeles, the second-biggest city in the United States, is one of them.
That may be about to change in the next few years, though.
There has been serious dialog about building an NFL stadium in Los Angeles, and soon, that will become a reality as the new stadium is set to break ground on the $1.2 billion Farmers Field. The belief that if a stadium is built an NFL team will eventually come has driven the idea, and in truth, that's probably exactly what would happen.
There are plenty of teams around the NFL whose current situation is not good. Teams like the Oakland Raiders and the Jacksonville Jaguars have experienced financial losses in recent years as they operate in markets that cannot fully support them.
These two teams are among a handful around the league that will soon face the struggle that the Minnesota Vikings have pioneered this offseason: Finding the financial backing to build a new stadium.
The Vikings have secured their future in Minneapolis, but other struggling franchises around the league have not yet done the same.
Since it seems that the NFL is not interested in expanding the league, the only way for a hopeful city to secure a team is to build a stadium and use that to entice an existing to come. The Jacksonville Jaguars should be that team.
Unhealthy franchises, the ones that struggle to fill seats and generate income, don’t tend to stay put in the NFL. The Jaguars are the definition of an unhealthy franchise.
An expansion franchise that joined the NFL in 1995, the Jaguars have never really captured the hearts of Floridians. It is impossible to ignore the number of empty seats at home games. The franchise has gone as far as to block off sections of seats to try to avoid television blackouts.
On top of that, the Jaguars have a hard time bringing in attractive free agents and keeping their emerging players at home. There's very little name recognition on the team, and jersey sales are understandably terrible as a result.
The financial situation is so bad that the Jaguars have hired three new executives as part of an organizational overhaul to sort things out.
The situation isn’t just a matter of the team being located in a market where the recession has hit harder than in other parts of the country. Northern Florida simply doesn’t have a place for the team. From a popularity perspective, the Jacksonville Jaguars are literally at the very bottom of the league: Just 0.4 percent of surveyed fans identified them as their favorite team in 2012.
Although the Jaguars are now under the ownership of a new group and in a lease until 2027, no amount of cajoling can turn the residents into the passionate fanbase that the team will need to develop in order to survive. For the right amount of money, leases can be broken and so can promises from new owners.
The lease in particular isn’t as big of a stumbling block as it might seem. The city of Jacksonville is already in the midst of a public relations firestorm after a city lawyer recently threatened to terminate the Jaguars' lease at EverBank Field. The mayor has gone on the record stating that it was all a big misunderstanding, but this is proof positive that all is not well in Northern Florida.
Rather than keeping the Jaguars in a market where the franchise has shown no signs of flourishing, it seems inevitable that the new management will look to making a move at some point in the not-too-distant future.
At the current rate, the stadium in Los Angeles will not be completed until at least 2015. This timeline would coincide well with the amount of time it will take for the Jaguars to divorce Jacksonville and make a proper show of seriously considering other potential suitors.
The Jaguars may have taken a step back from the brink of relocating when a new owner came on board, but that doesn’t mean that the possibility is off the table. Another poor season in 2012 could cement this franchise’s fate.
If that's the case, then Los Angeles is the most logical destination.
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