Go Jaguars!

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  • | 12:00 p.m. March 1, 2010
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by Max Marbut

Staff Writer

If you notice flyers in Downtown sandwich shops and other businesses, you’ve probably seen the green sheets with “Let’s keep the Jaguars in Downtown Jacksonville” at the top and contact information for “Team TealVision” at the bottom of the flyer.

The people behind the grassroots season ticket sales campaign ar Mary Ellen and Bill Ludeking. They are what’s called in marketing “early innovators.” The couple has owned season tickets to Jaguars home games since the day they went on sale and moved into a riverfront condominium Downtown as soon as that type of residence was available. One of the things they enjoy about going to Jaguars home games is being able to walk to Municipal Stadium.

“We saw the renaissance coming,” said Mary Ellen Ludeking.

She owns a small business and said that gives her a viewpoint that motivated her and her husband to join the season ticket sales effort.

“We know how important the Jaguars are to Jacksonville,” she said. “We love football but it’s not just about going to the games. Having the NFL in Jacksonville brings businesses and businesses bring sponsors and that’s what helps keep the arts and culture alive.”

She also said the positive effect the Jaguars would have on Jacksonville didn’t take long to make a difference. In the mid-1990s Mary Ellen Ludeking did quite a bit of traveling and said she observed a major change starting soon after Jacksonville secured the team.

“It was huge from an identity standpoint. Before the Jaguars, whenever I’d book a flight home, the agent would always ask ne ‘which Jacksonville?’ After we got the team they didn’t ask that question any more. It put us at the top of the list,” she said.

Bill Ludeking, an IT manager by profession, also understands the business side of having a home team.

“All other factors being equal, a business will pick a city with an NFL team over one without a team,” he said. “And having the Jaguars helps support many small businesses like the places where people buy their tailgating supplies.”

Mary Ellen pointed out that selling enough tickets to avoid game blackouts also has an effect on the local small business economy since if the Jaguars aren’t on television there’s less business at many entertainment venues.

“When the Jaguars aren’t on television there aren’t as many people in the bars and restaurants on Sunday afternoon and those are small businesses,” she said. “It’s great to have Fortune 500 companies in Jacksonville but small business is the foundation of the economy.”

Another factor the Ludekings said has also convinced them of the value of keeping the Jaguars here is the philanthropic aspect of the NFL, particularly the contributions Wayne and Delores Weaver have made to the community.

“The Weavers have to make money on the team to be able to have the resources to devote to charity,” said Mary Ellen Ludeking. “And look at how many of the coaches and players also have foundations that help the community.”

The couple describes themselves as “football buddies” and Bill Ludeking said if he has learned one thing in life it’s that, “Happiness is having a wife who loves football.”

Team TealVision is one of hundreds of groups that have stepped forward to lead the effort to sell season tickets.

“We’d love it if people want to join our team but if you don’t join us, join somebody’s team,” said Mary Ellen Ludeking.

To join a team, or start your own group, visit www.myteamteal.com.

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