Jags move from tarps to pools with stadium upgrade
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) The Jacksonville Jaguars are moving from tarps to pools.
The Jaguars provided a hard-hat tour of their $63 million stadium renovation Tuesday, showing off the world's largest scoreboards, a pair of wading pools and a two-story party deck that will include 20 all-inclusive cabanas.
Jacksonville removed 9,500 chair-back seats to make room for the new construction in the north end zone. That allowed the team to remove 12 of 16 tarps around EverBank Field. The tarps have been an eyesore for years and essentially made the Jaguars the brunt of jokes. Maybe more importantly for a small-market franchise trying to change perception after years of futility, the covered sections won't be seen on television.
The Jaguars will unveil the scoreboards and cabanas at a Carrie Underwood concert July 26.
Already, the team has sold 65 percent of its cabanas for the 2014 season. Cabana seating is sold out for three home games: against Pittsburgh (Oct. 5), against the New York Giants (Nov. 30) and against Houston (Dec. 7).
''We're trying to give fans a compelling reason to leave the comfort of their homes and to come and watch the Jaguars in person,'' Jaguars president Mark Lamping said. ''We have to make sure the experience, when people spend their hard-earned money, is really good. But more importantly, it is unique and distinctly different than what you can get at home.''
The Jaguars are selling 12 upstairs cabanas for $3,000 a game, with a maximum of 20 people in each suite. The price includes all-you-can-eat food and all-you-can-drink beer, wine and soda.
The eight downstairs cabanas - the only tickets that include pool access - are going for $12,500 a game, with a maximum of 50 people in each suite. Those also are all-inclusive.
Throw in 120 bar-rail seats located in the north end zone and adjacent to the pools, and the Jaguars have completely changed the look and feel of their 20-year-old stadium. Those bar-rail seats cost $150 a game and include food and drinks.
''This starts to give our building character, gives our building a personality that fits this market,'' said Chad Johnson, the team's senior vice president of ticket sales. ''We're in a great warm-weather market where water, beaches, the river are all part of it. So this incorporates not only what's local, but it incorporates a high-end beach resort. You go to a high-end beach report and sit in a cabana, what do you have there? You have the luxury of the beach but the ability to pull away from it with comfort of shade, fans, televisions that you can't get with your chair parked in that sand.
''It gives a mix of the two experiences. At the end of the day that football game is what we're here to see, but they can experience it in a different way.''
Jacksonville increased capacity inside its ''fan cave'' from 400 to more than 600, giving anyone with a ticket access to the Internet and televisions in an air conditioned area overlooking the south end zone. The team also redesigned a section of club seats, adding tables and four swivel chairs to create a sports-bar atmosphere. Finally, the team added 180 field-level seats, providing fans an up-close look that closely resembles basketball or hockey.
''We're trying to make sure we have a sustainable franchise here in Jacksonville, a team that is sustainable from a financial standpoint, a team that is sustainable from an on-field performance standpoint, which means a consistently competitive team.'' Lamping said. ''And everything we're doing is designed to support that.''
The pools have gotten the most attention.
They are 25 feet long, 12 feet wide and 3 1/2 feet deep. Lifeguards will be in attendance, and the pools will have a glass front that overlooks the field.
''From inside the seating bowl, you'll be able to see into the pool,'' Lamping said. ''This has been probably the most talked about of our enhancements. It's just one small part of what we're doing, but it's pretty meaningful. What we've really tried to do is give EverBank Field a unique personality and a personality that's legitimately north Florida, legitimately Jacksonville, and how do you do that without integrating water?''
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