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Jags to drop stadium's capacity

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Commissioner Paul Tagliabue on Friday
assured Jacksonville Jaguars fans that the franchise's future is
safe, despite sagging attendance and a decision to cover seats next
season.

Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver decided in December to cover 9,700
seats in hopes of alleviating local television blackouts, which
have become common the last two years in one of the NFL's smallest
markets.

"I think everyone realizes the stadium was somewhat oversized
in terms of capacity because of the goal of having it big enough so
that you could play a Super Bowl here, having it big enough so that
you could play the Florida-Georgia game here, having it big enough
so you could play college bowls here," Tagliabue said during his
annual state of the league address.

"So what Wayne is doing in terms of reducing the capacity at
the margin is intelligent and will bring it much closer to what our
average capacity is for new stadiums."

Tagliabue noted that several small-market teams have had
sustained success, including Kansas City and Buffalo. He said
Jacksonville could do that, too.

"We'll have to keep in place some of our wise policies in terms
of revenue sharing and cost sharing," he said. "So if they need
support from the league they'll get it."

The Jags will cover the four upper deck corners of Alltel
Stadium, as well as 16 rows of seven sections in the north end
zone, to drop their capacity from 76,877 to 67,164. The reduction
of 9,713 seats means the Jags will now have to sell approximately
49,000 tickets each game -- in addition to the season ticket base --
to reach sellout status.

The team had 11 blackouts in 16 home games the last two seasons.

One drawback of this move is an NFL rule that mandates a team
covering seats must do so for the entire season, including the
playoffs.