Area income grows since Jaguars

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by Karen Brune Mathis

Managing Editor

Growth attributed to many factors

It’s true. Jacksonville’s income has risen since learning in 1993 that it would field a National Football League team.

The Jaguars took the field in 1995 and Jacksonville has been holding bragging rights as a city with one of the 32 NFL franchises.

Whether income rose any faster or higher than it would have without a team is difficult to determine, but statistics clearly show residents are, on average, making more money.

Between 1994 and 2008, area per-capita personal income has risen to $39,304, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis.

That’s growth of almost 83 percent, although that rate does not account for inflation. That’s close to the 81 percent average income growth for all NFL cities.

But both Jacksonville’s and the NFL’s average beat the national average of 78.5 percent.

“Having an NFL team has a positive impact on a city’s per capita income,” said Bill Prescott, Jaguars chief financial officer and senior vice president of stadium operations.

Looking at it from another angle, in pre-Jaguars 1994, Jacksonville’s per-capita income was 97 percent of the national average. As of 2008, it rose to 99.3 percent.

Almost 15 years after that first game, however, Jaguars supporters are pleading with residents, companies and organizations to buy season tickets to show support, fill seats, avoid another season of heavy blackouts and to show the NFL and Jaguars owners that the city wants a team.

“We have to figure out how to rekindle the passion to fill the stadium,” says Tony Boselli, the first player drafted by the Jaguars and commissioner of the Team Teal booster efforts.

Boselli and Team Teal leaders are telling almost any group that will listen that it’s critical to buy tickets.

“It is our job, our responsibility as fans, to support our team,” Boselli told the Meninak Club in mid-March, a busy month of presentations by Team Teal leaders.

Among their focus factors is the economic impact of the team, and within that, the improvement in area income since the team came to town.

In his remarks, Boselli refers briefly to per-capita income growth. Per-capita, actually “per-person,” is figured by taking the total income of an area and dividing it by the number of people.

Team Teal and the Jaguars don’t give the franchise full credit for the per-capita income growth. Economists and city leaders have long pointed to Northeast Florida’s overall economic strengths for its rise in income, population, employment and other factors.

Jacksonville University assistant economics professor Carol Dole said Northeast Florida was positioned to ride the wave of growth of the 1990s and early 2000s.

“Jacksonville was in Florida, it was in the Sunbelt, it was part of the economic boom,” said Dole.

There also are other factors to consider, such as Jacksonville’s relatively lower income to start, meaning that an increase in the area would result in a higher percentage growth than would a higher income at the beginning.

In addition, other factors playing a role would be the closing of Naval Air Station Cecil Field and its reuse plan by the Jacksonville Aviation Authority and the City, as well as the River City Renaissance and Better Jacksonville Plan public improvement investments.

Prescott said he studied the per capita numbers and looked at Jacksonville from 1985 to 1994 and from 1994 to 2007, comparing the area to the United States, to comparable cities with a team and to cities without one.

“Having an NFL team is good in terms of per capita income growth. Is that just because the city gets more visibility so more companies are attracted to locate here? Did tourism increase because of the beauty shots of the beach?” he asks.

An income increase, he said, “overall should help the economy in general because people have more money to spend.”

He said that Jacksonville actually exceeded the national average at some points. In 2007, for example, Jacksonville’s income was 101 percent of the national average.

The Daily Record reviewed the per-capita personal income for the metropolitan areas with an NFL team, comparing figures from 1994 to 2008, the latest available. Thirty areas were studied because two cities — New York and San Francisco/Oakland — fielded two teams.

Here are some findings:

• Jacksonville’s income growth rate over that time was just about in the middle of the pack of teams.

• In terms of actual income, Jacksonville was in the lower ranks, with 23 areas posting higher incomes in 2008, including New York and San Francisco/Oakland.

• That was similar to 1994, when 24 NFL areas, including San Francisco/Oakland and New York, had higher incomes.

Which cities did the best?

New Orleans, San Fran-cisco/Oakland and San Diego more than doubled their per-capita incomes, not accounting for inflation.

As of 2008, San Francisco/Oakland had the highest income, an average per-capita of $61,747.

Which fared the lowest?

Detroit’s income grew the slowest, at 57.8 percent. As of 2008, Green Bay had the lowest income at $36,243, with Buffalo close.

Team Teal is an initiative of Touchdown Jacksonville: Revive the Pride, which is a group that wants to revive interest and support in the Jaguars. Team Teal encourages organizations and individuals to start their own “teams” to buy Jaguars tickets and earn Team Teal reward points toward prizes.

Jaguars spokesperson Dan Edwards said that as of noon Thursday, 22,793 tickets still needed to be sold to lift a blackout.

He said that of the total 50,957 tickets that needed to be sold to avoid a blackout, buyers bought or renewed 28,164 tickets.

Of those, 6,658 were new seat sales.

Team Teal speakers also share statistics that show how the community improved, including a survey in 1999 by Jacksonville University. That survey found that 79 percent of Jacksonville residents believed the city has a positive national image as compared to 40 percent in 1993. One third of the respondents credited the Jaguars for the improvement.

Next week, Team Teal scheduled a Team Captain’s meeting Tuesday and presentations to the Southpoint Rotary Club Wednesday and to KPMG Thursday.

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Growth since the Jaguars

Higher per-capita incomes

1994 2008 Increase

Jacksonville area* $21,494 $39,304 82.8%

Nation $22,172 $39,582 78.5%

NFL cities** average $24,274 $43,956 81.1%

* Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau and St. Johns counties

** The 30 metropolitan areas with the current 32 teams

Jacksonville’s percentage of national average

1994 — 97%

2008 — 99.3%

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis

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