Is it too soon to start talking Jacksonville?

Discussion in 'MLS: Expansion' started by nbace, Jul 20, 2015.

  1. FlipsLikeAPancake

    Jul 6, 2010
    New York Red Bulls
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    At least when it comes to sports, I don't think that comparison is fair.

    Sacramento is the 20th largest TV market and 27th largest metropolitan area. Jacksonville is only 47th in TV and 40th in metro area.

    In a country where the top 4 major sports leagues have 30-32 teams, it makes sense for cities in the 40s like Jacksonville not to have much representation. Sacramento on the other hand can feel overlooked as it's a top 30 market by most metrics.
    The Franchise repped this.
  2. The Franchise

    The Franchise Member+

    Nov 13, 2014
    Bakersfield, CA
    Real Salt Lake
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Jacksonville is comparable in size to Hartford or Louisville, about 1.3-1.5 MM, depending on how one counts. Sacramento is 2.2-2.5 MM, bigger than Kansas City. It's more than half again as large as Jacksonville. Within their relative states one can say they have a similar spot as a fourth market which is often overlooked, but they aren't the same size as one another.

    There are the really big cities (>5 MM MSA or >6 MM CSA) that every top sports league rates as must-have. Absences from any of these ten or so places have significant and very specific reasons. (Despite the NFL's long absence from LA, the league has always maintained that returning is important, both publicly and privately.) The next ten or so markets (>3 MM MSA or >2.5 MM CSA) are important as well, but each league has a few blank spots here. Past that, markets are considered case-by-case. Sacramento is one of the larger such cities, while Jacksonville is one of the very smallest; it's the fifth-smallest CSA and sixth-smallest MSA in the U.S. to host an NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, and/or MLS franchise.* Several somewhat larger markets (e.g. Vegas, Austin, Virginia Beach, Greensboro) don't have any. Nashville and New Orleans are the smallest places with two franchises, so Jacksonville adding an MLS team would be an aberration.

    This is not to say Jacksonville is too small for an MLS team--it's not Omaha or Fresno. It's just so small that it would require the perfect situation. Having a well-run and widely popular NASL or USL franchise is a great foundation for a market like Jacksonville, as proof that support already exists. Then, get rich investors and the support of local politicians.

    * About as many even smaller Canadian cities have NHL teams, but that's hockey in Canada.
  3. OWN(yewu)ED

    OWN(yewu)ED Member+

    Club: Venezia F.C.
    May 26, 2006
    chico, CA
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    If there is a favorite dark horse for 26 for me, its Jacksonville. San Antonio is still the favorite, but right now, its not gonna take much for a dark horse to get to the top of the pack. As far as TV markets go, they are right on the border of what would probably be deemed as acceptable to MLS. If theyre a city that knows the that other cities are pretty logjamed at the local government level, if they can get a stadium and owner/ownership group, they look like a very viable candidate for me. 26 is still a free-for-all as of now, and Jacksonville should be in that conversation at this point. Hopefully they can keep the pressure up with good attendance as they have been
  4. Macsen

    Macsen Moderator
    Staff Member

    Nov 5, 2007
    Orlando City SC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Jacksonville has kinda fallen off in the fall season, and is now a typical NASL team in terms of attendance. Of course, their terrible performance on the field is part of that.

    They certainly have a good combination to form a team, but without the wow factor of huge crowds like Sacramento, they're going to need to get the other stuff in a row before MLS will even look at them.
    Mad Hattah repped this.
  5. The One X

    The One X Member+

    Sep 9, 2014
    Indy Eleven
    I don't think performance has much to do with it. I think this is just the interest in D2 soccer at Jacksonville, which is still similar to San Antonio by the way. At lower level of sports I don't think performance actually has that great of an affect on attendance, at least not in the short term. The vast majority of people you get going are either the hard core fans who just want to root on a local team, and those who just want something to do on a Saturday night. The kind of people who will only turn out if the team is winning, from what I can tell, tend to be the people who are only really interested in the top tier leagues.

    Indy Eleven still sell 10k tickets even though they aren't outwardly pushing for MLS hard like Sacramento (which I highly suspect their attendance is mainly due to the promise of MLS). The Indy Eleven are about the opposite of success. San Antonio despite a terrible season just had their highest attended game of the season, and have the exact same average attendance as last year at the same point.

    I also wouldn't take D2 attendance to necessarily to signify MLS performance. Atlanta has been near the bottom the past two seasons, yet the MLS team has gotten 26k deposits for season tickets.
  6. chungachanga

    chungachanga Member

    Dec 12, 2011
    I think attendance can be a big factor in attracting attention of MLS level investors, especially for smaller markets like Jacksonville that otherwise don't stand out.

    If you can get some investor interested in Jacksonville regardless of proven fan support, I agree, attendance likely won't matter much to MLS.

    Attendance in minor leagues is more about how much work and money you put into it, how well you advertise, how many sales people you have if any. Also stadium location, stadium quality, parking. Can you buy beer or not. What else you provide for entertainment besides just the sport. So MLS shouldn't and I think don't care about attendance of lower division soccer too much.
  7. Mad Hattah

    Mad Hattah Member

    Jun 7, 2000
    North Florida
    Philadelphia Union
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    The Armada's second season is about to kick off (in about a month). I plan to drive over for a game or two (or more). Any rumblings on a SSS? I know the owner was bullish on one when he was awarded the franchise.
  8. msilverstein47

    msilverstein47 Member+

    Jan 11, 1999
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Gavin Ewbank

    Hearing from sources that
    President Nathan Walter was in Minnesota this week at the MLS All-Star Game meeting with
    leaders. Sounds like expansion to Jax may indeed be happening with opening of new downtown stadium around 2025.
  9. wasdykec

    wasdykec Member

    May 6, 2002
    Jax, Florida
    With the new usl championship team coming, I fear the armada missed their chance.

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