By: James Johnson
As expected, new Jaguar updates have been little to none since the players are on their last break before training camp begins. However, I came across an article by NFL Network’s own Albert Breer about teams that could use new stadiums. Naturally, one the teams he mentioned was the Jags, but who’s surprised? In short, he argues that due to the need of a new stadium, the Jags long term plans in Jacksonville look murky.
Within the span of a few hours, feedback began to accumulate over Breer’s article. It seems that Jacksonville at large disagree with Breer and, in fact, love EverBank. Most fans of Jacksonville seem to think that EverBank Field can use some renovations (many of which are in the works), but feel it’s certainly not a bad stadium. I would agree. Personally I like EverBank. I’ve had nothing but good fan experiences there since I’ve moved here. Though it’s not necessarily a state of the art stadium a la Cowboy Fields or Lucas Oil Stadiums, nor is it a legendary by the likes of Lambeau Field or Soldier Field, but it certainly isn’t the cesspool people outside of the Ville make it out to be. I mean, I hear the Vikings Metrodome has troughs in the men’s room instead of actual toilets ( I couldn’t make this up). So it appears that it could be a lot worse for Jacksonville.
However, one problem we Jags fans do have with EverBank is the capacity. Seeing as it was originally the Gator Bowl and intended for the use of college events, the team had to put up tarps in the stadium, which as we know all too well outsiders have been critical of. Not only have visitors been critical of these tarps, but Jags fans and officials of the Jags organization, like owner Shad Khan and Jags team president Mark Lamping, have voiced concerns. Both Khan and Lamping have come out with statements in reference to the tarps. Khan even said that he feels the site of the tarps are a sign of “underachieving” and can’t wait for the day they are removed. Lamping feels that the tarps do nothing to help fan experience, and “are a blatant reminder that there are seats under them.” I would agree with both of those sentiments. So along with the upgrades the team has also been working on a way to “naturally” remove the eyesores. Lamping says he and the organization have been discussing ideas of possibly building platforms in the place of the tarps that could be used for anything from concessions to palm tree, giving EverBank more of a Florida vibe. The platforms would be perfect because they would be removable for the annual Georgia vs Florida game which brings in 80,000 fans. But the organization has run into a couple problems with building the platforms. The platforms can’t block the view of the fans behind them and it would be costly as well. They could simply remove the tarps, but that would bring the stadium to a capacity of 76,000 which is too many seats for today’s NFL standards. Both Chicago and Philadelphia are the nations third and fourth largest T.V. markets respectively. They have 61,500 and 69,144 seats in their stadiums. The Jags feel their current 67,246 seat capacity (with the tarps on) is about right in terms of the NFL’s standards. With that taken into account I sort of agree with Breer. However, the reason I feel that the Jags need a new stadium is because they need one that’s marketable to the size of their fan base. Though I’m fine with EverBank for now, I think that it would benefit the Jags in the future to build a new stadium.
Though it’s highly unlikely that the Jags will get a new stadium anytime soon it, would really benefit the team. Alfie Crow of Big Cat Country made an interesting statement in the feedback thread I, noting that a stadium like the Colts’ Lucas Oil Stadium would be perfect for the Jags. It has a capacity of around 62,000 seats. According to ESPN that’s close to the Jags average attendance of 62,331. Being that Lucas Oil is a modern stadium, the architects made it easily expandable to 70,000 seats for other events such as the Super Bowl and NCAA tournaments. The Cowboy’s Stadium, built in 2009, has a capacity of 80,000 in it’s original state, but Jerry Jones wisely made an area for standing room in the stadium, bringing the capacity to 111,000. Though we won’t need something quite so large, the point I’m making is that a modern stadium would tend to the Jaguars needs. Depending on the extent of the renovations, the funds put into EverBank might total that of a new stadium by the time the lease is up in 2030, which is why I’m of the opinion that the Jags might be better off building a new stadium. For now, I and my fellow Jags fans will enjoy our current stadium gladly no matter how “crappy” outsiders think it is.
Part 2 of this blog is in the works and I would like to know from Jags fans what kind of upgrades you would like to see at EverBank Field? If you like you could use the comment thread below. Any feedback will be greatly appreciated.