In today's Florida Times-Union, Vito Stellino has an interesting story about Jacksonville's struggles to sell season tickets.
According to Stellino's story, the team has to sell 50,000 non-premium seats to avoid having any of the Jaguars' home games blacked out next year. Stellino cited an unnamed league source as saying that Jacksonville had only sold 35,000 so far. The Jaguars did not raise ticket prices in the off-season, and will likely use some promotional tools (deals on half-season ticket prices, breaks if you buy in bulk, etc.) to generate some interest.
Blackouts (or at least threats of blackouts) are nothing new to the Jaguars, especially in recent history. After having six home games blacked out in 2004, the team covered close to 10,000 seats to avoid any further issues. For the most part, that remedied the problem. Jacksonville didn't have any blackouts in 2005, 2006 or 2008, but did have three in 2007.
The slumping economy has negatively affected a plethora of sports franchises, but Jacksonville is in twice as bad a situation because of last year's 5-11 season. Take a growing cynical attitude from the fans about the Jaguars, add the uncertainty of this economy and a decrease of disposable income, and the grand total is a recipe for disaster when it comes to ticket sales.
The best panacea for solving this dilemma is a strong preseason for Jacksonville. If fans notice that the team is doing well early, they will job on the bandwagon and buy up those tickets. On the other hand, there is a strong possibility that the Jags could open the season with four straight losses (@ Indy, Arizona, @ Houston, Tennessee). If the team slumps early, the team might have to give tickets away. And that would get the never-ending speculation about the Jaguars and the "r" word (relocation) into full swing.