I had a chance to spend a few minutes with Wayne Weaver yesterday. He wanted to talk about the upcoming Fan Forum at the stadium. An event where he and other Jaguars executives (I wonder if Tom Coughlin will be there) will meet with Jaguars fans at the Stadium to hear about what’s right and what’s wrong with the Jaguars game experience.
Weaver seems genuinely committed to listening to what the fans have to say, and implementing some of their ideas. He said he’d lower prices, freeze some seat prices, and offer “branded” food at the Stadium as well as other small things that need to be fixed.
“This is something new for you guys,” I commented to Weaver. “You’ve been cloistered at the Stadium for seven years and now you’re everywhere.”
“I’d be disingenuous if I didn’t tell you it was too easy early for us,” was Weaver’s answer. ” We saw a drop off in attendance a few years ago but that had to do with wins and losses. This drop off isn’t about wins, it’s about what it’s like to come to a Jaguars game.”
Weaver can certainly turn on the charm, but you wonder sometimes if his ideas actually trickle down through his organization and get implemented the way he wants them to. One thing’s for sure; Weaver has his hand on the controls right now. The team and the whole organization are on his radar screen. He’s a businessman who likes research and consultants and focus groups. They’ve told him what’s wrong, and he’s trying to figure out how to change things and not cost himself a fortune.
He’s not giving any guarantees about the football team, but does think they can be competitive. “I’m not waiting until 2003. We’ll have a good competitive team this year.”
When I asked him about the restructuring of Tony Brackens’ and Kyle Brady’s contracts, he said, “In the past we restructured everybody, now we’re selective. We’re restructuring guys who are long term players for this team.”
When I asked about other players Weaver demurred, “We have some tough decisions in front of us, but I can’t talk about them.” It’s pretty obvious Keenan McCardell and Hardy Nickerson will be released after June 1st in order to save cap money over the next two years. They’re obviously not long term players for the Jaguars. And Weaver reiterated that Mark Brunell and Fred Taylor are not available to other teams in a trade. “They’re not on the block,” is how the Jaguars owner put it.
What all this means is they’re putting on a show of effort to be responsive to the fans about their concerns. Whether they’ll do anything about it we’ll find out soon enough.