I want to share something that popped into my mind while I was passing Everbank on the Mathews Bridge. Everbank Field is quite isolated from the rest of the excitement of the City of Jacksonville. If we brought more entertainment and shopping to that area, do you think that would create a hype to boost support and ticket sales to the team. I'd like to cite an example:Gillette Stadium in Foxboro Mass is probably one of the nicest facilities in the NFL. (Yes, I know that NE has a strong fan-base and deep pockets funding them) But there's a nice place to "tail-gate" in the 21st century sense. There's a lot to do as there is a "town center" of sorts right next to the stadium where fans can go to watch movies, go to clubs, eat, shop and even recall the history of the Patriots at the Hall of Fame right next to the gates. They even have hotels right next to the stadium. I went the day before the Pats-Jags game of winter 2009 and it was crowded. Needless to say I was impressed by the community around Gillette. The only concern was traffic and the roads going in and out. One two lane road to and from! Traffic must be hell on gameday. And Foxboro is in the middle of nowhere, 30 mins. outside of Boston.
Another example: Amway Center in Orlando. Really nice facility with a lot to do in and outside of the arena. A floor dedicated to Orlando Magic history, which is just a couple of years older than us. Magic merchandise stores at the street level open to the public. One whole side of the arena is a bar! A play area for the kids. Nice food options for everyone. The arena is right next to the party street of Downtown Orlando. A lot of businesses have picked up since it opened, and the area looks cleaner and safer. A lot more enjoyable. And now it's hosting the All-Star games this year (if there is a season with THEIR lockout in the NBA)
I really love the Jaguars and would like to see something like that come to Jacksonville. I believe if we heckle the mayor enough, he'd take some of that downtown restoration money and build up the area around the stadium so that visitors from other teams and states, would have something to do. Plus, we'd concentrate all the Florida-Georgia game shenanigans that always go on to one place. Residents would take some time and patronize the local businesses around the area. Who knows it may even boost ticket sales, make a booth accessable in that "theoretical" town center. The stadium is in a beautiful part of town where the St Johns River flows right through, the city should take advantage of it. Parking on the other hand... well let's just say if no plan is perfect, although a parking garage in lieu of at least one lot would be a start.