The NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars struggles – on and off the field – have been well documented. The team won 50% of its games in 2010, dipped to five wins in 2011 and managed only two wins in the 2012 campaign. Not unrelated, the team has had equal struggles attracting people to attend games at its home stadium, EverBank Field.
The Jaguars have been in a constant battle with the NFL’s blackout policies – the NFL requires a certain percentage of tickets to be sold in order for a game to be broadcast in its home market. In short, the Jaguars frequently flirted with its games not being broadcast in the Jacksonville area due to low ticket sales. In 2012 the NFL lowered that benchmark for the league and allowed the teams to set the benchmarks themselves – and yet the Jaguars still flirt with blackouts.
Team management decided several years ago to tarp over several upper deck sections to remove those seats from the total stadium seating capacity to aid its ratio by having fewer available seats.
Combine these struggles with the ever changing fan experience; fans can purchase cable packages that will allow them to pick which game they want to watch with interactive statistics from the comforts of their own homes. Verizon announced recently a $1billion deal with the NFL that will allow the carrier to stream games on handsets and tablets.
In the near future, a fan can watch the game of choice just about wherever they please and do so with up to the minute stats, features and other updates. That being said – the thought of buying a ticket and parking pass, fighting traffic on a Sunday morning to sit in the heat in an uncomfortable seat and dropping $10 for a beer is appealing to less and less people over time.
In response, the Jaguars recently announced it is converting space at the stadium that was previously open patio space into a large Fantasy Football Lounge. The lounge will be a high-tech, air conditioned room that will accommodate between 200-300 fans and will feature around 30 HD TVs (streaming games from around the league), WiFi, high end seating and a bar.
In a related Sports Business Daily story it was stated that the team wanted to give fans the game experience with the comforts of home. In a recent study conducted with fans, one of the key points of feedback was that fans wanted to be able to watch the game but also keep up with their fantasy scores. You ask, and the Jaguars deliver.
Now, some may say this is a move is the Jaguars cowering to the belief that fans in its own home market would rather watch other teams play – but that truly isn’t the point. The Jaguars and the rest of the league is likely to follow suit, understand that how people consume content and the environments in which content is desirable has to be taken into account when addressing the fan experience.
If not, they might as well tarp the rest of the seats.