Wednesday, February 12

Jaguars in London Has Precedence (And it Worked)

Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA
I grew up in Milwaukee, near where the Packers played. When my family moved to a new house near County Stadium, I lived just a few miles from Packer home games. Yes, home games in Milwaukee for the Green Bay Packers. The Jacksonville Jaguars are going from one to two games in London, and it's being done for the same reasons as the Packers playing in Milwaukee. The real question is whether it will work out for the Jaguars as well as it did for the Pack.

Basically, Green Bay couldn't support an NFL team and needed a new stadium, so it moved games to Milwaukee from 1934 to 1994. Between two and four home games were played in the big city each year. During that time, some Milwaukee businesses tried to acquire a competing team in the other football leagues. Luckily for Green Bay, these attempts were blocked, partially by keeping games in Milwaukee. You've probably heard a lot about how perfect Green Bay is as a small market, but without the help of Milwaukee fans and (later) Brett Favre, the team probably would have folded years ago. Like before ANY (official) Super Bowl wins.

Green Bay updated the stadium and eventually got fans from all over the state (and country) to accept the importance of seeing games in Green Bay. Maybe Chris Berman's redundant Frozen Tundra quote helped as much as a winning team. The point is that the franchise was able to survive in spite of being a small market, though it did take help from a larger market. That said, there was still a long tradition of pro football in Green Bay. The longtime rivalries against much larger markets drew national attention, and winning records with Super Bowl appearances certainly didn't hurt.

I don't know if the plan is to string Jacksonville along until London is approved to have a team in the NFL's next expansion. Or maybe the plan is really to invest heavily in Jacksonville's downtown as the area grows. The problem is that if the fans just get upset and stop watching or attending games, the team certainly will leave, and that would put Jax back into the realm of a total minor league city when it comes to sports. Granted, I personally don't care all that much, since I'm a Packers, Bucks, and Brewers fan, but it does seem that a metro area of 1.5 million should be able to support a single pro franchise. If not, we'll be stuck in the same boat as Columbus, Austin, and Providence as large metro areas without a pro team.

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