Sunday, August 22, 2010

City buys Jacksonville Jaguars tickets again, but will give them to charities

The city will pay $43,000 to purchase Jacksonville Jaguars football tickets this year and use the tickets primarily for local charities.

Staff from two elementary schools that jumped two letter grades on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test will go to tonight's preseason home opener against the Miami Dolphins as guests of the mayor. City Council President Jack Webb donated tickets to the Police Athletic League.

The tickets were sliced from the budget last year, but Webb said not having the city buy tickets sends a bad message about Jacksonville's commitment to the team.

The council and the mayor's staff will split 48 tickets and eight skybox passes for each home game, as they have every year but last since the team started play in 1995.

"It's an investment in the team," said Adam Hollingsworth, Peyton's chief of staff.

Peyton helped convene a group of business leaders last year when poor attendance made Jacksonville the national poster child for empty seats and television blackouts. That group has help create Team Teal, led by former Jaguar star Tony Boselli, to sell season tickets and build excitement around the team.

A New York Times article last fall coined Peyton "cheerleader in chief" and the city kicked in $150,000 to help throw "the ultimate tealgate party" for a December game against Indianapolis. A ticket drive for that matchup made it the lone game shown on local television.

Peyton visited the Jaguars' practice this month to promote season ticket sales and the team announced this week it was about 3,000 short of eliminating blackouts for the season.

In a new naming rights deal with EverBank, Peyton agreed to waive the city's $4 million take and allow the Jaguars to keep the money.

The city owns the stadium, now called EverBank Field, and its agreement with the team gives it access to a suite. Last year, council President Richard Clark led the charge to stop buying the tickets in an effort to cut the city budget.

Clark said Friday that now that he is more familiar with the Jaguars operations and given the civic push to sell season tickets, he supports the

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