Just under 30 minutes into the Jacksonville Jaguars’ State of the Franchise news conference, a slide about the Shipyards popped up in a PowerPoint presentation.
It wasn’t the Shipyards as it sits now, bare and empty.
It was a concept of what the Shipyards could be, not of something actually in the works.
There were docks and several buildings on the 40-acre site.
And there were practice fields for the Jaguars, an intentional tie to the team that plays just across the street at EverBank Field.
Team President Mark Lamping said plans continue to evolve for the site.
But, he said, “Know that we’re going to make sure if we’re the developer, that we’re going to integrate the team into the Shipyards development to give it even more interest.”
That integration could include indoor and/or outdoor practice fields, Lamping said, but would be something so the Shipyards site “can continue to be themed with this city’s NFL franchise.”
He said in November if no one stepped up to develop the long-barren riverfront site, Jaguars owner Shad Khan would.
Lamping said Tuesday developing the Shipyards would be part of the team’s commitment to “do everything we can to make sure the sports complex is a desirable place for fans to visit.”
And, he said, it would be a way to “do what we can do to contribute to a more vibrant and strong Downtown Jacksonville.”
After the news conference, Khan told jaguars.com the Shipyards had “been around way before my time.”
But, he added, “We’re hoping to give it some momentum. I’m hoping it becomes a reality.”
Last month, when asked whether he had paid several architects to develop plans for the site, Khan said, “We’ve been working on that for a while.”
On Tuesday, he acknowledged there had been several attempts in the past, but he thinks there’s a lot of work left to be done.
“A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step,” he told jaguars.com. “I think this is probably the first step.”
Lamping also talked about how the team’s London strategy has paid off.
He said total local revenue was up 8 percent last year, though domestically it was down about 9 percent.
“The impact of our London strategy really came to bear last year,” he said. “If not for our presence in London, we would have been going down.”
Another example of the London impact came in ticket sales, which Lamping said were down 18 percent domestically, partially due to having one fewer home game in Jacksonville. However, because the London game brought a large crowd to Wembley Stadium, ticket revenue was actually flat overall.
The London strategy also has helped increase sponsorships from 14 percent to 29 percent of local revenue.
Naming the team’s fan club Union Jax was a “very overt and direct way to tie these two communities together,” Lamping said.
The fan club membership has increased to 23,000 and, in one year, the Jaguars have gone from being the 31st most popular team in the United Kingdom to the ninth.
The team has two full-time employees in London and there have been several overseas visits by current and former players, Lamping said.
He talked about the value of the huge scoreboards being unveiled July 26, when Khan’s Fulham Football Club plays a friendly match, followed by a concert by Carrie Underwood.
Lamping discussed finding new products to support the goal of raising the average ticket price without having to raise prices for the average fan.
Those ideas include offering seats on the field (the equivalent of courtside seats for basketball, he said) and taking a section of the club seats and reorganizing it into tables that hold four people.
The prices for those options would include food and beverage.