Local businesses in Jacksonville were looking forward to an economic boost from what could have been a home playoff game after losing to the Titans. Some businesses made five times their normal revenue during last year’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers.
There was not one glimmer of sunshine over EverBank Stadium on the Monday after the disappointing loss. Instead, overcast skies were blanketing a city humbled by the Jaguars’ colossal collapse. There were no signs of joy among football fans, only empty air.
Peter Abbruscato, said he sensed overwhelming deflation. “I have the luxury to pop into a lot of local businesses daily…and the energy today just was not there, you can feel that walking into places, a lot of heads down.”
He said it’s not only the football team regretting the missed opportunities. Local businesses were set to reap the economic benefits of a home playoff game and the national exposure.
“Just the infrastructure here would have gotten a massive boost from a win, anything to help downtown Jacksonville would have been amazing,” Abbruscato said.
During the buildup to last year’s wild-card playoff game where the Jaguars faced the Los Angeles Chargers, the economic impact to the River City was estimated to be in the millions of dollars. Jaguars merchandise was in hot demand, the cash was flowing in for hotels, bars, and restaurants. Gilbert Rexhepi who owns D & G Deli and Grill downtown said fan traffic generates income during all the hours of the day.
“You have them here early, eight in the morning and they are popping in and out all day long,” Rexhepi said.
Rexhepi, whose restaurant is close to Hyatt Regency Hotel, said winning does make a difference, but he’s hoping downtown Jacksonville’s revitalization is a success, with or without the influence of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“Football season is very good, once we have a great team people will come moving downtown, look, there is no one out, there are no families, no people spending time downtown, there is nothing to do here,” Rexhepi said.
In the weeks leading up to last year’s home playoff game, the Jacksonville City Council approved using nearly $700,000 in emergency funding ahead of the game. Most of that money went towards overtime staffing for the sheriff’s office and the fire department, but it gives a gauge of how success on the field can impact the local economy.