The city of Jacksonville and the Jaguars announced a deal that would build two massive scoreboards, the largest for an outdoor scoreboard in the world, by the start of the 2014 season. The $63 million project would give each endzone a state of the art scoreboard with video, but also a few other things like swimming pools (Yes, that you swim in.).
In adding these scoreboards, pools, and other fan interaction areas the Jaguars will be removing roughly 7,000 physical seats from the stadium for a potential net capacity loss of around 1,500 to 1,800 seats. This means that the tarps in the north endzone will be completely removed.
In 2005, then Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver, decided to tarp over 9,703 seats to bring down the overall capacity to better fit the market. The tarps have been low-hanging fruit for shots at Jacksonville and fan support, even Shad Khan mentioned them when he bought the franchise.
"To me, every day I look at the tarps it is like underachieving, and I can't wait to be able to do that," Khan told Daniel Kaplan of the Sports Business Journal in February of 2012. Khan referred to them as a "black eye," but now might have some raw steak to put on them.
With the removal of the 7,000 seats from the stadium, that means as it stands right now only roughly 2,703, which means Khan's goal of permanently removing the tarps from the stadium may be a reality in the near future.
During the 2013 season the Jaguars removed tarps over some of their upper deck sections for a few games, showing that it's possible to remove the remaining roughly 3,000 seats in the near future if and when the team improves on the field.
Not only does it mean that in the near future the tarp jokes and jabs will be by the wayside, but it should also silence most of the baseless relocation talk because it shows Khan taking further actions to rooting the franchise in the city of Jacksonville.
"I think actions speak louder than words," Khan said at the press conference announcing the deal. "We’re standing in a locker room that’s a hundred percent funded by the team. Next door hopefully you’ll go look at what we’re doing. This is really a part which we will use but really it’s for the community and all the other events that are coming here. I think we have to show the leadership and it starts with investing and vision."
Out of the gate, everything Khan has done has been an action to keeping the team in Jacksonville, where it belongs. Even the London series, with how it is setup with exclusive marketing rights, is a way for the team to increase it's revenue, which laxed in Weaver's later years owning the franchise. Khan is looking for an injection to get the team's financials jump started, and that accomplishes it.
So, while people hemm and haw over ridiculous things like the Jaguars "splitting" their schedule in London, or how we should hit them back in 2021 about the team moving, Khan continues to sink his roots into the city of Jacksonville and has even discussed investing in property around the stadium and in the downtown area, such as the long vacant shipyards.
"I that’s a process that we’ve started and I think you have to stay tuned. I think it’s very, very important. It’s a gateway, it’s a front door," Khan said about the talk of his interest in developing the shipyards. "You leave downtown before you get to the sports complex. It should be a venue that really draws people. It should be a destination you want to go to so the development on that is vital. It’s been sitting there for a long time and if somebody wants to step up God bless them but I think if they’re not going to do something I think we can help."
Khan understands that what's good for the Jaguars is good for the city of Jacksonville, and what's good for the city of Jacksonville is good for the Jaguars.
It's about time someone figured that out.
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