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michael89156

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: August 26, 2011, 10:59:25 AM

Mike Bianchi:       Forget Jaguars, maybe Buccaneers should move to L.A.
Tampa Bay Bucs fans more apathetic than Jacksonville Jags fans
 

 
Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi says Bucs fans are more apathetic than Jags fans. (J. Meric, Getty Images)

 
 Are Bucs or Jags more relocation-worthy?
Which team is a better NFL relocation candidate, Tampa Bay or Jacksonville?
By Mike Bianchi, Orlando Sentinel
  August 25, 2011



Just a few days ago, as the babbling blowhards on a national radio show just began debating the topic du jour which current NFL team would be moved to the West Coast now that L.A. has approved the framework for an NFL venue the discussion reached a quick and unusually peaceful culmination.

I'm paraphrasing, but here essentially is how the conversation went:

"The Jacksonville Jaguars are probably already packing the moving vans for L.A.," one of the talking heads concluded.

"No question," said the other. "It's a no-brainer."


Question: When are those of us in the media going to lay off poor, little Jacksonville and the only big-time professional sports team that city will ever have? Why everyone does seemed determined to yank the Jags away from Jacksonville when there's another NFL team in the state with an even more embarrassing recent history of blackouts?

What about the L.A. Buccaneers?

When there is a discussion about moving a team to L.A., why aren't the Tampa Bay Bucs ever brought up? They are located in an area that is rapidly gaining a reputation as one of the worst sports cities in America.

The Tampa-St. Petersburg megalopolis is the 14th-biggest market in the country, but does not support two of the most solid franchises in professional sports. The Tampa Bay Rays have proven over the last few years that they are one of the most well-run franchises in Major League Baseball yet the fan base continues to be among the sport's worst.

The fan apathy toward the Bucs is even more baffling because Tampa has always fancied itself as a football town. But I would argue Jacksonville is much more passionate about its perennially mediocre Jags than the Bucs are about one of the hottest young teams in the NFL.

Here's all you need to know about how far the Bucs' popularity has fallen not only in Tampa but throughout Central Florida: As I am writing this column, the Bucs do not even have a radio outlet to broadcast their games in the Orlando market. Radio stations in Orlando used to fight over the Bucs, but now the team has gone through much of the preseason without its games being broadcast in this thriving market.

If you want to accurately compare the Bucs to the Jags then chew on this: The Bucs, who were one of the surprise teams in the league last year with a 10-6 record, were the only franchise in the NFL that blacked out every game. Meanwhile, the Jags, a team the media likes to point to as the dirty-faced posterchild for fan apathy, blacked out none of its games despite being in the nation's 49th-ranked TV market.

The Jags averaged 63,000 fans per game last season; the Bucs had the second-worst attendance in the league at only 49,000 per game. But because there's nothing sexy about Jacksonville the team or the city the Jaguars are an easy target.

The media-bashing started a few years ago when the Jags were forced to cover up seats at their stadium in an attempt to avoid blackouts. Everyone ignored the reason for the tarps because Jacksonville was the smallest market in the league with one of the biggest stadiums (73,000). And the reason it had one of the biggest stadiums was so the city could accommodate the annual Florida-Georgia college football extravaganza.

Another fact everyone ignored: Even with the tarps covering seats, capacity dropped to 67,000 which is still bigger than Raymond James Stadium (65,857) in Tampa.

"The media has a way of regurgitating the same old stuff without doing their homework," says Jaguars great and Jacksonville resident Tony Boselli, one of the key catalysts behind the Jags' successful season-ticket push last offseason. "When you really look at the facts and Jacksonville's entire body of work as an NFL city, it's been a good market."

The fact is, the Jags, Bucs and even the Dolphins have a lot of work to do this season to avoid blackouts. The rotten economy, coupled with the 136-day lockout during a time when fans and corporations traditionally re-up for season tickets, will likely have a devastating effect on attendance throughout the league.

Of course when the inevitable blackouts happen, the nation's media will automatically emasculate the poor, little Jacksonville Jaguars.

In reality, the L.A., er, Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the team everyone should be pointing fingers at.

Bucs Capacitor

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#1 : August 26, 2011, 11:06:09 AM

This guys knows nothing.

The Bucs struggles are only as recent as the last couple of years.  The Jaguars have struggled their entire existence.  They'll sell out after an 11-5 season, but as soon as they have one bad season they struggle with blackouts for the next few years.

Ridiculous.  Winning fixes everything.  We have another year like last year, and this article will be proven obsolete.

ufojoe

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#2 : August 26, 2011, 11:18:32 AM

When there is a discussion about moving a team to L.A., why aren't the Tampa Bay Bucs ever brought up? They are located in an area that is rapidly gaining a reputation as one of the worst sports cities in America.

The truth hurts.

Come to LA and I'll have season tickets again! Of course, most likely that won't happen.

Borat!

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#3 : August 26, 2011, 11:21:35 AM

I still dont get the LA hype. I thought they proved a few times to not be a football town?

\\\\\\\"...even if we win the SB not getting a few FAS with so many available was being pig headed and fanatical.\\\\\\\" - 4bucs

ufojoe

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#4 : August 26, 2011, 11:26:38 AM

This guys knows nothing.

The Bucs struggles are only as recent as the last couple of years. 

Well, they struggled mightily for a long time when the team sucked. The recent struggles started to rear their ugly head when the Bucs needed Giants fans to help sell out the last playoff game at Ray Jay.

The Jaguars have struggled their entire existence.  They'll sell out after an 11-5 season, but as soon as they have one bad season they struggle with blackouts for the next few years.

They were 7-9 in 2009. And then they sold out every game in 2010. They went 8-8 last year but will struggle to sell out games this year. I think if the Buc played in Jax, every game would sell out.

Ridiculous.  Winning fixes everything.  We have another year like last year, and this article will be proven obsolete.

Hope so. People love to come up with excuses as to why they won't go to the games.

PWNASAURUS

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#5 : August 26, 2011, 11:34:58 AM

I blame the media in Tampa except 620 and PR for continually pounding away at the Glazers with the Cheap BS during the 2009-2010 seasons. They got a lot of people off the bandwagon with there unknowledgeable BS when all the owners were doing is trying to clean up the mess that GRU/Allen left. Part of that mess was a roster full of crap that had NO talent and thus had a low payroll. The Payroll was low from lack of talent acquired thru the draft by the former regime(i.e. NO Big Extensions) not from the owners not willing to spend and that has been proven over the last 2 seasons and still you hear the cheap BS from fans and media. There are people in the Tampa Bay area with the means to buy Season Tix and go to games. It is getting better with this young highly talented team and once the bandwagon fans get to know them better this year the Wagon will fill up again, I hope.


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#6 : August 26, 2011, 11:37:05 AM


While attendance was an issue at that the crappy Coliseum, the main reason Al Davis left LA was because of the lack of luxury boxes.

When does the Bucs lease run out?

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#7 : August 26, 2011, 11:41:21 AM


The Jaguars have struggled their entire existence.  They'll sell out after an 11-5 season, but as soon as they have one bad season they struggle with blackouts for the next few years.

They were 7-9 in 2009. And then they sold out every game in 2010. They went 8-8 last year but will struggle to sell out games this year. I think if the Buc played in Jax, every game would sell out.

That was due to a lot of hype.  They were viewed by the local media and others as an up-and-coming team that was just hindered by injury in 2009.  Last year will now be viewed as one that is a bigger indicator as to how bad the team actually is.  Now everyone expects Garrard to be benched weeks into the season for a rookie, which means they're expecting a losing season and their coach getting fired by the end of it all.

The people of Jax could prove me wrong, but I would be shocked to see them sell out every game this year, unless they come out of nowhere.

Also, they sell out a lot more these days because they had to cover tens of thousands of seats with tarps.

BuccaneersMagic1282

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#8 : August 26, 2011, 11:47:56 AM

First off, Mike Bianchi is a joke of a sports writer. I have no clue why the Sentinel continues to provide him with a job, people in the area hate him and this is the same guy writing about articles about why Dwight Howard should be leaving Orlando for the Lakers. I think this dude may be a closet LA fan or something.

Secondly, the Bucs haven't had a single blackout in the 10+ years of RJS until last year. The Bucs aren't going to pick up and move because of struggling ticket sales in a bad economy. The Jags also have been known to cover up seats to avoid blackouts before.

Third, the Glazers can not move the Bucs for at least another 8-10 years. When they built Raymond James Stadium, they had some sort of agreement with the city to keep the team here because of how much tax payer money went into it.

Finally, the idea of teams moving over attendance is usually overblown. Normally when a team picks up and moves it is because of stadium/arena problems or other reasons. The Seattle SuperSonics moved to OKC because A)Their new owner was from Oklahoma and B)Seattle wouldn't build them a new arena.

The Bucs will be staying in Tampa for the near future. There is a reason you hear the Vikings mentioned with LA, it isn't because fans won't show up it is because they have a dump of  stadium and the city won't help pay for a new one.

ufojoe

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#9 : August 26, 2011, 11:47:56 AM

Also, they sell out a lot more these days because they had to cover tens of thousands of seats with tarps.

As was noted in the article and on these boards, even with those tarps, their stadium capacity is more than Ray Jay.

Once again, if the young Bucs played in Jax, I think every game would be a sell out.

Love your screen name.

Morgan

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#10 : August 26, 2011, 11:52:46 AM

Tampa Bay Bucs fans more apathetic than Jacksonville Jags fans


Apathetic? Maybe....but most likely poorer.

Go ahead, take the Bucs, the Rays, and the Bolts while you're at it.

I would save $2k in tickets a year of more if all of them moved.

The novelty of attending sporting events is quickly going away for me. Not a big deal anymore to attend in person.

I think I'm going to be happy to watch NFL/MLB (any franchise) on HDTV in the near future anyway.

getblazd

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#11 : August 26, 2011, 11:54:51 AM

Bucs aint moving come on.  And if I run into this dude we gonna have to squable. 

ufojoe

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#12 : August 26, 2011, 11:57:08 AM

Tampa Bay Bucs fans more apathetic than Jacksonville Jags fans


Apathetic? Maybe....but most likely poorer.

Go ahead, take the Bucs, the Rays, and the Bolts while you're at it.

I would save $2k in tickets a year of more if all of them moved.

The novelty of attending sporting events is quickly going away for me. Not a big deal anymore to attend in person.

I think I'm going to be happy to watch NFL/MLB (any franchise) on HDTV in the near future anyway.

That right there is the example of why Tampa doesn't support their teams with attendance. Lots of fans like Morgan who said the same thing in the past few years.


Morgan

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#13 : August 26, 2011, 12:08:49 PM

People I know laugh when I tell them that I pay over $100/ticket to see the Bucs. Most normal people don't think that's a sensible way to spend your entertainment dollar.

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#14 : August 26, 2011, 12:09:43 PM

There is a reason why L.A. lost BOTH the Rams and Raiders, and it has to do with the lack of a stadium and fan apathy.  The only way the Bucs or Jags are moving is if new stadiums are not built in the near future, which is why the Vikings are the most likely to move to L.A.

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