The Jaguars front office held their annual State of the Franchise address on Friday morning, from the terrace suite at EverBank Field. It is one of the unique things that the Jaguars do in a public setting, open to the media and carried on Jaguars.com. It is a very good way for the fans can see and hear what the future holds for the franchise. Jaguars’ team president Mark Lamping said that this event and the Jaguars willingness to be so transparent with the fans by holding this event is that they wouldn’t be in Jacksonville without community support and the team is partners with the community. It is a special event every year that not every team does, it gives fans an inside look at where the franchise is now and how they expect to build things in the year to come.
The presentation started with an introduction video and was followed by Lamping at the podium introducing Jaguars’ owner Shad Khan. Who started by squashing any thoughts of the Jaguars moving to another city. “I think it bears repeating, we plan to be in Jacksonville,” he said. That statement drew some applause as you would expect. While that is a good thing for Jaguars fans to hear, he worded that very carefully. With using the word plan, he did not guarantee anything. As even the casual NFL fan knows, plans change. Just ask St. Louis.
The one thing that makes Khan different from other owners who have made such a declaration, is that he is putting his money where his mouth is. Much of the address centered on all the upgrades to suites and practice facilities that have been discussed in the past and are now starting to come to fruition. Khan said that it is not enough for the franchise to just exist in Jacksonville. “That’s counter to anything I believe in and it’s not our way of doing business,” he said. “Frankly it’s not good enough for the city of Jacksonville. This is a community that supported the franchise faithfully and impressively for over two decades and we just don’t want to exist here, we want to flourish here.”
He added that he knows the product needs to be better on the field and he assured the fans that he agonized over every loss. He said the team has one goal and that is to win in 2016. He then turned it over to Lamping, who discussed a lot of the business aspects, including reiterating how important the local revenue is and how to grow that. He said that things are heading in the right direction on that front, but they have a long way to go. As expected, Lamping was up front about the Jaguars need to keep playing games in London and how much that revenue helps the Jaguars bottom line in Jacksonville. He said every one in every eight dollars the Jaguars make is due to the revenue from the London games. “Make no mistake,” said Lamping. “Our involvement in London makes us more stable in Jacksonville.”
A chart was presented that showed teams that will be moving into new stadiums in the next five years, teams that moved into new stadiums since the Jaguars have been in the league and teams with $300 million in renovations to their current stadiums. The final category on the chart was other. Jacksonville and Buffalo were the only two teams in that category. That, along with a few other charts and graphs were presented, showing the need for a ticket price increase in Jacksonville, who has the fifth least expensive tickets in the NFL. “Awesome when you’re buying tickets,” said Lamping. “Not so good if it leads to instability of your NFL franchise.” General admission tickets are the second cheapest in the NFL and premium seat prices put them in the bottom six. When all was said and done, the Jaguars announce a price increase of 3.6 percent. 24 percent of seats are going up, five percent are staying the same. Those numbers fluctuate depending on early renewal plans, which will allow you to pay less if you renew by a specific date. The Jaguars also discussed dynamic pricing, which will take into account the visiting teams.
While the price increase is not great in the short-term for the fans, the presentation was done so well and things were explained in a way that you could see why the increase was necessary. Lamping followed up the price increase presentation with renderings of the upgrades and changes to seats and clubs that is currently underway, along with a video. This was a good way to reinforce what fans will get in return for their investment into the franchise. All with the long-term stability of the team in Jacksonville. From what was shown today, the future seems bright, let’s hope it stays that way.