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Monday, June 9, 2014
Jaguars hope to capitalize on buzz

By Michael DiRocco

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars have already experienced an increased buzz among fans because of the team's roster improvements, and they're hoping the impending completion of the $63 million in stadium improvements announced last summer will generate even more.

It looks like they may be right.

Jaguars president Mark Lamping said during the annual state of the franchise news conference that season-ticket renewals are up 10 percent and new season-ticket sales are up 46 percent from last year at this time.

Some of that is undoubtedly due to the upgrades the team made in free agency -- including signing guard Zane Beadles, defensive ends Chris Clemons and Red Bryant, and running back Toby Gerhart -- and the drafting of quarterback Blake Bortles and receivers Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson in the first two rounds.

But it's also due to improvements to EverBank Field. It generated a little buzz when they were announced in June 2013, but that has apparently ramped up a bit now that training camp approaches and the final stages of construction have begun.

The stadium is getting two 362-foot long and 60-foot high video replay boards, with 21,720 square feet of active video display area on each board. The team added cabana seating and two pools in the north end zone and on-field seating, and expanded its State Farm Neighborhood Fan Cave in the south end zone. The video scoreboards, manufactured by Daktronics, are the biggest in the world and will be unveiled at a July 26 event at EverBank Field that includes a concert by Carrie Underwood and a friendly between Jags owner Shad Khan's Fulham FC and D.C. United.

The cabana seating, which the team is marketing toward businesses, includes access to the two pools, each of which measure 25 feet long, 12 feet wide, and 3 1/2 feet deep. It also will include lounge furniture, multiple television screens and food and beverage service.

The 7,000-square-foot fan cave, which debuted last season and is open to any ticket holder, has Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, tablets, video game consoles and power leather home theater recliners. There also are three bars and food stations, including a dessert bar.

Though these renovations are costing $63 million, including $20 million out of Khan's pocket, the Jaguars aren't raising ticket prices. The cabana and on-field seating are expected to generate additional revenue.

"We know now is not the time to raise ticket prices across the board," Lamping said.

That's good news for a fan base that hasn't seen a winning season since 2007. There's no denying there is finally some buzz around the franchise, as evidenced by the record 6,214 fans that showed up for the second day of a two-day rookie minicamp. The stadium improvements can only help keep that going.