JACKSONVILLE – What’s good for Jacksonville is good for the Jaguars.
And because the growth of soccer in Jacksonville is good for the city, Jaguars President Mark Lamping said it’s very, very good for the Jaguars.
Lamping said that made Thursday important, with Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown officially announcing that the U.S. Men’s Soccer National Team will play the final game of its Send-Off Series at EverBank Field in Jacksonville on June 7, 2014.
The U.S. will face Nigeria in the game.
“This is a significant day in the history of sports in Jacksonville, and it really brings new meaning to the phrase, ‘Are you ready for some football?'" Lamping said during the announcement at EverBank Field Thursday afternoon.
The game will be the last of a three-game series that is a key part of the team’s final preparations for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. It will be the last of a stretch of three matches in 12 days.
“This is a, ‘Wow,’’’ City Council President Bill Gulliford said. “This is an absolutely fantastic event. It’s another in the growing list of fantastic events that have taken place in the stadium.”
Lamping said the U.S. team will arrive in Jacksonville five days before the match, with key workouts and preparation taking place during that time. The U.S. will begin the Send-Off Series against Azerbaijan at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, Calif., on May 27 and will face Turkey on June 1 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J.
“Make no mistake: Jacksonville belongs in this conversation,” Lamping said. “Today’s news is consistent with the commitment of (Jaguars Owner) Shad Khan to make Jacksonville an international destination for business, world-class tourism and the biggest sporting and entertainment events.
“Jacksonville will be that and more the week of the match.”
Lamping said the state-of-the-art video boards that are being installed this offseason at EverBank likely will be installed by that time, though they will not be operational on June 7. He said he expects capacity for the game to be around 60,000.
He also said ticket information and other details such as where the team will train will be announced at a later date.
Lamping said as is the case with the Jaguars playing a game in London during the NFL regular season, being associated with a high-profile international sporting event is a positive for the team and the community.
“We want to bring as many big events to EverBank Field because it makes partnering with the Jaguars more valuable,” Lamping said. “We want to do everything we can to make Jacksonville stronger, and just like London, raising the profile nationally and internationally will have a residual benefit to us.”
Brown thanked Lamping and Khan for the Jaguars’ involvement in promoting and bringing the game to EverBank Field.
“The whole world will be watching,” Brown said. “This warm-up game adds to our growing momentum as a premiere venue and destination for sports events. We are doing this all together as partners.”
Gulliford also said the game will continue to enhance the city internationally.
“This continues to sell Jacksonville globally,” Gulliford said. “Those of us who went on the London trip (in October) know there is a significant opportunity for us to put our name forward attract business and people to this area that will have an impact on us for years to come. This is just another step in the long process to getting that kind of exposure globally.”
Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce President Daniel Davis said he realized quickly during the week leading up to the London game the importance of a global presence for the city.
“It was very clear to me how important it was to have leaders like Shad Khan, who are already involved on a global scale, touting the benefits of doing business in Jacksonville,” Davis said. “Any time we bring people to our community, we’re going to continue to grow jobs.
“This is a fantastic opportunity to do that. I want to thank President Lamping and Shad Khan for helping make this a reality.”
Ticket information for all three matches will be provided at a later date.