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'World's Largest' Video Boards At EverBank Designed To Get Fans Off The Couch And Into The Stadium

Jacksonville Jaguars

Saturday the Jacksonville Jaguars will unveil what the team is calling the world's largest video boards.

The team and the city have invested heavily in the gameday experience, spending $63 million this year on upgrades to Everbank Field in an effort to get fans to step away from their home entertainment centers and come down to the stadium.

The centerpiece of the  renovations are new video screens 362 feet long and 60 feet high. They were created by the South Dakota company, Daktronics, and designed to be bright enough to show up clearly under the Florida sun.

Season ticket holder Jason Mudd got a preview of the new video display during a tour at Everbank Field and found them to be impressive.

"The boards look phenomenal," he said. "We might need to wear sunglasses just because of how bright the boards are."

Jaguars President Mark Lamping says the enormous screens will allow for multiple replays and a constant feed of the NFL Red Zone channel, so fans can keep up with what's going on in the rest of the league.

"Some of it because they’re participating in fantasy football and they want to see what’s happening," he said. "In Jacksonville where about half the people who live here are not from the state of Florida we know that many of our fans have other teams that they’re interested in."

Victor Matheson, a professor at College of the Holy Cross who specializes in stadium economics, says he’s seeing this trend all over professional sports — most recently at Barclays Center, the home of the Brooklyn Nets. In addition to giant digital displays, he says sports venues are also pumping up WiFi.

“So that people can watch the game and then instantly pull out their smartphone or their iPad and watch the replay from the stadium,” he said.

They'll also be able to tweet selfies by the pool. One of the more unusual additions at Everbank Field are the two new shallow pools in the North end zone. It takes $12,000 to reserve a pool cabana, but that price covers 50 tickets and unlimited food and drink.
Bob Renaud with Campbell Plumbing Contractors said his company has booked a cabana for two pre-season games and one in the regular season because they see it as a smart investment.

"Individually, we've supported the Jaguars to varying degrees, but from a business development standpoint, this is really the first foray into using Everbank and the Jaguars as a way to entertain clients," he said.

In football, it’s hard to track whether stadium improvements sell more tickets since most NFL markets sell out, but Matheson, the sports economist, said in baseball, there’s a clear bump in ticket sales when a team gets a new stadium, and that honeymoon can last 5 to 10 years. In a decades long stadium arms race, new gadgets mean bragging rights.

 The Jaguars have a billboard taking a shot at two Texas stadiums once known for having large video boards. “Not everything is bigger in Texas,” it declares, and shows a size comparison with the scoreboards in the stadiums where the Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys play.

Photos of the billboard went viral on social media, but the Jaguars' Lamping said the signs weren’t really meant for anyone in the state of Texas. They were aimed at the hometown crowd, he said, which has to put up with so much grief from the national media.

"What we were trying to communicate to our fans is that there’s a lot to be proud of in Jacksonville," he said.

Besides, he added, Jacksonville only has the biggest video boards until another team decides to build bigger ones.

You can follow Karen Feagins on Twitter @karenfeagins.

Karen found her home in public broadcasting after working for several years as a commercial television reporter. She joinedWJCTin 2005 as the host of 89.9 FM’s Morning Edition and has held many different roles at the station in both radio and television. She has written and produced documentaries includingBeluthahatchee: The Legacy of Stetson Kennedy and Jacksonville Beach: Against the Tide and directed the oral history project, Voices of the First Coast.