Jaguars Could Play Games In Orlando

October 1st, 2009 by

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jaguars would consider playing some “home” games in Orlando if the NFL extends the season from 16 to 18 games, team owner Wayne Weaver told an Orlando newspaper.

Having lost 17,000 season ticket holders, the Jaguars are seeking to expand their fan base in Orlando. Several questions are yet to be answered about the possibility, including the venue.

Weaver believes the NFL will add two more games to its schedule within the next three years. If that happens, he said the Jaguars could move a combination of preseason and regular season games to central Florida.

“There’s certainly the possibility that we would play some out-of-market games,” Weaver told Orlando Sentinal columnist Mike Mianchi. “If it happened, Orlando would be the best option and most reasonable location. We are looking at a long-term strategy and thinking out of the box on how we can build a fan base in Orlando.”

The idea of playing games in the Orlando Citrus Bowl may not sit well with Jaguars fans.

“I am from Jacksonville. Why would I go to Orlando?” Jaguars fan Rene Negron said. “It’s the Jaguars here, baby. It’s not the Orlando Jaguars.”

Weaver said he has not talked to Orlando officials about the idea. In fact, he said the Citrus Bowl is not up to NFL standards and would have to be remodeled.

It’s just an idea, and Weaver said he is not using it as a threat to fans or Jacksonville.

You know how I feel about this market,” Weaver said. “We are growing a generation of fans. Clearly we are going through a very difficult period right now.

“Obviously it’s escalated where we are and people writing about us on a national basis, but I believe this is a great NFL market and will be a great NFL market. No, I don’t see this as an opportunity to go play half our games somewhere else.”

But the city is listening. City Council President Richard Clark is now proposing shifting some bed tax money to cover stadium and other sports complex renovations.

It’s money that had been used at the convention center, but in October it will be paid off. So now an extra $5 million is available that can only be used to generate tourism.

“This is something we have to do,” Clark said. “We want to show the entire city supports the Jaguars, but certainly don’t want to leave any issue not resolved. So we want to make sure they know we are here and committed to this stadium and the facility they work in is taken care of.”

Jacksonville would not be the first NFL team to move to a nearby market. The Buffalo Bills are playing games in Toronto over the next several years.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have also talked about playing some games in Orlando.

Orlando already has two other professional football teams moving into the market. The Florida Tuskers launch their inaugural season Oct. 10 at the Citrus Bowl and the Orlando Predators are being revived under a new arena football league called “Arena Football One” next spring.


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