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What We Learned: State of the Jaguars 2013

Posted Feb 6, 2013

Here's a look at what we learned from the 2013 State of the Jaguars press conference at EverBank Field Tuesday

1. The new era is complete. If there remained a question a new direction had been set around the Jaguars, that ended Tuesday. Not that it wasn’t already clear with the hiring of David Caldwell as general manager and Gus Bradley as head coach, but a new logo and rebranding added a symbolic feel. The last time things felt this new around the Jaguars was probably the 1995 expansion season. A new logo doesn’t guarantee the success that followed that season. A new coach or general manager doesn’t, either, but few could argue that change was needed around the organization. Well, folks, change is here.

2. People dislike change. The immediate feedback on the logo? Well, not all fans were thrilled. That’s OK. People initially recoil at change. That’s normal. It will feel natural soon enough.

3. Video boards are on the way. Jaguars President Mark Lamping and Owner Shad Khan each talked extensively Tuesday of new video boards for EverBank Field. Khan said it’s his hope that the boards are installed “as soon as possible,” as early as the 2014 season. Khan said talks are ongoing with the city on the matter. “I think the sooner the better, because we need something that’s going to differentiate and enhance the experience and make EverBank a destination,” Khan said.

4. Those video boards? They’re going to be impressive. If the Jaguars’ projected plans for the video boards come to fruition, they would indeed make EverBank a destination. The plans Lamping and Khan showed during the press conference project the boards as the largest, most-impactful in the NFL. “We want EverBank to be a destination where people are going to come to see it,” Khan said.

5. The video boards are for more than just the Jaguars. Lamping and Khan each spoke of the importance of the boards not just for the Jaguars, but for other events held at EverBank Field. “I think this makes it a much more attractive venue to have the events,” Khan said. “The economic impact is going to be huge, I think for the hotels, for the restaurants – really Jacksonville a destination.”

6. The rise in ticket prices will be minimal… The Jaguars on Tuesday announced that while there will be price increases for about 17 percent of tickets in 2013, prices for 80 percent of seats will remain flat. The team also is increasing the number of $35 tickets available to 3,500, with overall season-ticket prices rising only two percent. “It’s a very, very fair pricing plan for next year,” Lamping said, with Khan adding, “We are doing everything to make this the most affordable game. It is. Even with the modest increase we’re going to be the lowest NFL experience.”

7. …but very necessary. Lamping took extensive time during the press conference to discuss the need to increase local revenue, noting that the Jaguars have slipped from No. 2 to 29 in the NFL in that area since 1995. That figure has to improve for the long-term financial viability of the franchise, and Lamping said afterward it’s important fans realize the critical nature of the issue. The need to increase local revenue, he said, prompted the rise in some ticket prices. “Whether it’s the National Football League or any other business, you have to compete economically,” he said. “To believe that local revenue is not important, then people are ignoring what has happened in the National Football League over the last ten years. Look at the amount of money that has been invested by teams and communities in order to allow for the growth of local revenue, principally through new stadiums and other things like that. Now, to believe that somehow you can be satisfied and be competing on equal footing with every other National Football League team by being at the bottom, I think that’s not true.”

8. Free agency could be relatively quiet. Khan had indicated last week that the Jaguars wouldn’t be overly aggressive in the early, high-profile days of free agency next month. Caldwell has said since his hiring last month that the Jaguars will emphasis the draft, a point he reiterated Tuesday. “I don’t anticipate us being overly active,” Caldwell said of free agency. “I anticipate us building through the draft in this process and sticking to that. That’s our vision, that’s our plan, and supplement where we need to in terms of getting some depth through free agency.”

9. The draft plan is far from set – and a trade at No. 2 will be a possibility. The Jaguars hold the No. 2 selection in the April draft, but while that makes them one of the high-profile teams of the offseason, Caldwell said much remains to be done before the team determines a draft-day approach. “We’re not locked into one scenario right now,” Caldwell said. “We’re going to go through this process through the Combine, through free agency and see where we’re at, and there’s going to be a player or two that we really like. I believe that. But there will also be some trade partners, so we’re going to formulate a few plans so we do what’s best.”

10. It’s OK to say, “Jags” now. There was a time in the early days of the franchise when the team very much wanted to establish “Jaguars” as the name of the team. During that time, the team often discouraged the media from using the shortened “Jags” when referring to the franchise. The new branding officially puts that era in the past, with the secondary logo incorporating the word, “Jags” inside a military-inspired shield. “I think now it’s used,” Khan said. “It’s part of the common vocabulary, and we have to really respect the fans. They’re using it and so are we. What we’re doing is responding to the fans and we’re adopting some of the nomenclature they’re using.”

11. The military is central to the Jaguars. The military long has been at the heart of Jacksonville, and in a very real sense, at the heart of the Jaguars. The team’s new branding makes that pretty close to official. Part of the rebranding was the inclusion of three words – proud, bold and committed. The pride is defined as follows: “We are rooted in the American spirit and military values that reflect the people of our community.” Said Bradley, “That’s great. Without a doubt how important they are, we all have great respect for our military groups, and to be in Jacksonville where it’s so strong – it’s really an honor.”

12. There’s no travel schedule for London yet. The Jaguars know they’re playing the 49ers on October 27 at Wembley Stadium in London, but beyond that, the details of the trip aren’t set. “We’re still talking internally about that,” Caldwell said. “There are a lot of different logistics of when we send our team over. Do we send them over on Monday or do we do it Thursday? So we’re working through that whole process. To be honest with you Mark [Lamping] has a lot to do with that and the business side of it.”

13. London is going to benefit the franchise. With local revenue critical to the long-term viability, the importance of the Jaguars’ October game in London – and the deal to play one home game a year there over the next four years – can be seen in a clearer light. The 2013 London game is sold out. Because Wembley is larger than EverBank Field and because ticket prices are higher, the game is significant to the Jaguars’ local revenue. “London makes us stronger in Jacksonville,” Lamping said.

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