Originally Posted by aj.
With all due respect to what you can find on the internet, remember you're talking to a lot of people here who lived it, and it's a very sore subject. The article you cite is paradoxical. There's a lot of things I find wrong with the article but I agree with its bottom line that Houston didn't lose the Oilers because of lack of support. Houston lost the team because of two decades of perceived misdeeds by the owner which in the end (if it would have gotten as far as a public referendum - and all shotty lease agreements notwithstanding), Bud's request for a new stadium would have been beaten to a pulp.
Mayor Lanier knew it would have been career suicide to support Bud's request because Bud lost whatever community, industry, and political support he had here over the years. He fooled us with the feign to Jax in the late 80's and we're still paying for the improvements to a building that is now being left to die. Bud had the public relations skills of a slug. He had no one around him with any marketing skills. He had terrible timing. People never forgave him for firing what was (then) the most loved, most popular and most charismatic coach in the team's history. He was a wealthy oil man who was used to getting his way so when he entered into the exclusive negotiating agreement with Bredesen, the general reaction here (beyond shock and sadness) was "don't let the door hit ya in the *****." For every middle finger he put up in our faces, there were 50,000 more back at him.
There's things in the article that are wrong. Like this one: "the Oilers were coming close to selling out every single game- even when they went 2-14."In the 2-14 season, half their home games were 44,000 or less. They had crowds of 39,000, 31,000, and 31,000 in their last three home games. The Dome capacity then was around 60,000. Since when is 16,000 -29,000 unsold tickets "close to a sell out?" That was before any of the relocation talk started. Bud dismantled the team after the '93 season - the rise of free agency as we know it. The lack of support that year was due to two straight choke jobs in the playoffs and the fact that the team had released a number of star players. Pardee was fired around Thanksgiving and Mullet Boy (as you call him) got his opportunity to coach his first game on MNF against the Giants.
Then there's this: The NFL football ratings in Houston stayed about even the last year they were in town, dropping slightly. If the interest had really left the fans, the Nielson ratings would have plummeted as people would have watched something else or done other activities on a Sunday afternoon. Most if not all of the Oilers home games were blacked out that year so people weren't watching the Oilers because they weren't on TV. Sound familiar? So what Nielson ratings is the author talking about? Dallas vs. the Redskins? The Oilers had a "near" sell out (83% capacity) that last year when they played the Steelers because half the stadium was full of Steelers fans. Sound familiar? The other fairly well attended game that season was against the (12-4) 49ers who were only two years removed from being a Super Bowl champion. I guess there was a fair crowd for the Miami game that year too. One last chance to see Marino I guess.
End rant - out.
Thanks for that perspective. I guess I get a little defensive when people insinuate that the people of Jax don't support the Jags. There is a core of fans here who are every bit as dedicated as your best fans are. We have the second smallest market and one of the largest stadiums in the NFL....thus we have blackouts. The owner is covering about 10,000 seats next year which will bring our stadium capacity in line with other NFL cities. If that had been done this year every home game would have been a "sellout". Our average attendence at home this year is close to Houston's (747 tickets less). So I guess I get a little hot when fans from other cities, who don't know the facts, start showing their ignorance by predicting that the Jags are moving to L.A., or somewhere else. They're not. The Jags have a very longterm lease that would be ultra-expensive to break. The owner gets along great with the community and the fans love him. We now have a coach that gets his players fired up and ready to play each week. We have 90% of the players in place we need to make it to the Super Bowl. We're $6 million or so UNDER the salary cap (best in the NFL). Season ticket sales are picking up for next year. Everything is pointing toward some very good results near-term. This year was expected to be 8-8 at best, now we have a shot at 10-6. We've beaten Indy, Green Bay and Buffalo on the road.
The point I was trying to make about Bud Adams (and I think the guy is pond scum too) is that he's a businessman, and Nashville offered him a better deal than he was able to get in Houston, so he left. The demand curve for an NFL team is such that fans will put up with a lot of abuse from an owner before they'll abandon their team and risk losing it.