Jaguars fans growling over loss of another home game to London

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Whether it be on social media, call-in radio shows or online petitions, many Jaguars fans have been expressing their opposition to the team’s decision to move a second home game to London next season.

Despite the outrage from fans, there are economic factors at play. When the decision was announced Tuesday morning, Jaguars owner Shad Khan and team president Mark Lamping cited revenue and the challenges of playing in a small market.

The Jaguars averaged 59,987 in the seven home games they played last season at TIAA Bank Field. The one game in London drew 84,771. But it’s worth noting that the seating capacity for TIAA Bank Field is 67,164, while Wembley Stadium is 90,000.

First 5 home games of 2019 seasonAttendancePercentage of seats filled
Sunday, Sept. 8: Kansas City Chiefs60,15789%
Thursday, Sept. 19: Tennessee Titans58,61387%
Sunday, Oct. 13: New Orleans Saints64,34195%
Sunday, Oct. 27: New York Jets57,83386%
Sunday, Nov. 3: Houston Texans (London)84,77194%

Part of the fanbase has pushed back, saying the front office should focus more on winning than the bottom line and the fans will show up in Jacksonville.

On Tuesday night, the Bold City Brigade posted a statement on Twitter, saying it “vehemently opposed” the decision to “take a second home game from the city of Jacksonville.” The group’s statement insinuated that Khan is too focused on revenue.

“We, as the largest organized group of Jaguar fans, would like to propose that Mr. Khan put more of a focus on producing a decent product on the field," the statement reads, in part.

Diehard Jaguars fans sounded just as fatalistic the next day when they flooded the phone lines at 1010 XL radio.

“Greatly overwhelmed by how much negative reaction we’ve been getting from fans,” said Tony Smith, host of 1010 XL’s “Jaguars Today.”

On Wednesday morning’s episode of the radio show, Smith, who has fielded phone calls from unhappy Jaguars fans for years, said he is hearing a tone that he has never heard before after the announcement that there will be a second home game in London in 2020.

“They way that they’re talking about not renewing, the way they’re talking about not being back is different than it has been before,” Smith said.

According to the Jaguars, there were 43,000 season ticket members in 2017 and 52,000 in 2018. Some season ticket holders told News4Jax that they are unhappy, but they still plan on another season with the team.

“At first, it was a little disappointing,” Michael Gowdy, a season ticket holder, said Wednesday. “We’re already losing one game, now we’re losing another one.”

Gowdy said the team on Tuesday sent him and other season ticket holders an email showing 2020 prices for them would go down 15% overall from what they paid in 2019.

“Like I said, it sucked, but the price is right now," Gowdy said. “They made it right on the price.”

The opposition to the London decision grew even more apparent Wednesday when the Duval Coalition, an effort to bring together Jaguars fans who oppose moving two games to London, began to circulate on Twitter. The effort includes a petition-like website where fans have the option to click: “I oppose taking games away from Jacksonville.”

When asked about the team’s decision, Mayor Lenny Curry told News4Jax that he’s a fan first, but he also understands the business side of it all.

“They’ve said all along that they’re going to do things that stabilize the franchise so that it remains in Jacksonville. And the things that they’ve done have demonstrated that to me," the mayor said Wednesday. "Would I like there to be eight home games? Absolutely. But that’s not the reality of what we’re facing right now.”

There was also speculation at 1010 XL about whether the London move could be part of a plan to get Jacksonville to pony up money for a new stadium in a few years.

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