The Jacksonville Jaguars presented its 2017 “State Of The Franchise” address Wednesday.
The team’s president Mark Lamping began the event with a blunt statement:
“You’re going to hear some good news today. You’re going to hear some not-so-good news,” he said. “You’re going to hear and come to the conclusion that there might be some reasons for concern and you’re going to hear a lot of reasons for tremendous optimism.”
He said the goal is to create a stable, sustainable, consistently competitive NFL franchise in Jacksonville for years to come.
There’s A New Shipyards Proposal
Lamping announced the Jaguars have submitted a proposal to the city for redeveloping the shipyards, located across from the stadium, into a mixed-use development.
He presented renderings by Jaguars owner Shad Khan’s Iguana Investment company. The proposal includes a waterfront exhibition center, upscale hotel and kayak launch park area connected to Hogan’s Creek.
36 Percent Of The City’s NFL Fans, Are Jags Fans
Within an average NFL market, Lamping said about 59 percent say they’re fans of the NFL. In Jacksonville, he said that number is about 65 percent.
But of the 65 percent of NFL fans in Jacksonville, just 36 percent say the Jaguars are their favorite team.
Lamping said there are many reasons for the lack of support.
“NFL allegiances run very deep and they’re formed at a very young age,” said Lamping, citing many residents of the city are from elsewhere.
But he also said when the team was winning — like during the 1998 and 1999 seasons, when the Jaguars advanced to the AFC championship games — 50 percent of the city’s NFL fans considered the Jaguars their favorite team.
Both Lamping and Khan spoke about the connection between downtown development to the success of the Jaguars.
Local Revenue Key For On-Field Success
Lamping continued to emphasize the connection between the Jaguars’ performance and local revenue, which is largely made up by ticket sales.
“If you look at the teams in the NFL that are in the top half in terms of local revenue, they average 1.3 more wins than the teams in the bottom half,” Lamping said.
He said Jaguar ticket prices are the fourth least expensive tickets in the league. But, with coming off a 3-13 season, the team doesn't have much ground to raise prices.
“It’s really hard to sell at a big price increase if you’re not winning football games,” Lamping said. “No one writes you a thank you letter for raising their ticket prices.”
Still, local revenue grew by 8.6 percent last year.
Lamping said the franchise has had to be creative with raising ticket prices, including upgrading its suites and pool access.
“Fortunately the community has responded by purchasing those products,” Lamping said.
The team has also adjusted tickets depending on the opposing team’s popularity.
The Franchise Is Focusing On Fan Experience
The Jaguars have worked to invest in the fan experience from adding wifi in 2014, new video boards, club and suite upgrades and an amphitheater, which is currently under construction.
“Thanks to a wonderful partnership with the city of Jacksonville, a partnership based on both parties being aligned on the same goals and Shad’s willingness to write big checks, we’ve made a lot of improvements in this city-owned stadium,” Lamping said.
Lamping said the Jaguars need to make home games an even bigger event for the community, which is why concerts are being scheduled at the amphitheater the night before Jaguar games.
“We’re going to turn these Sunday’s that are always a big deal in Jacksonville into more of a week,” he said.
He said he hopes a focus on the stadium experience will translate to fan loyalty and generate sponsorship, excitement and ticket sales.
Excitement Surrounding Tom Coughlin
Khan said he’s confident next season will be one Jaguar fans deserve.
“I remain extremely unsatisfied with our performance ... and our disappointment predates the 2016 season,” Khan said. “That’s why you see Tom Coughlin here and why Doug Marrone is our head coach.”
Coughlin, the team’s coach from 1995 to 2002, is now the Jaguars’ executive vice president of football operations.
“We’re all looking forward to what Tom will mean to the Jaguars,” Khan said
Coughlin gave a passionate speech about what the Jaguars mean to him at the State of the Franchise address.
“It would seem to me that given our own challenge — our challenge to win — that a good place to start for each of us, Jaguars, is to push ourselves to do more, to reach for another level, to never be satisfied,” Coughlin said.
The 2017 NFL season starts the week of Sept. 3.
Reporter Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride.