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- 2012 - February - 14th -

Khan continues evolution of Jaguars with new president

by Joe Wilhelm Jr., Staff Writer

They both had needs.

Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan has been searching for talented, experienced people who can help his organization reach an elite level, and his new president wanted to work again in a team setting.

Until Feb. 24, Mark Lamping will remain president and CEO of MetLife Stadium. He was responsible for management and development of the $1.6 billion stadium that is home to the New York Jets and New York Giants, and Super Bowl XLVIII.

On Feb. 27, he will begin work as president of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Khan announced Monday.

“I am thrilled to be a part of the rebirth of the Jaguars. I am very bullish on the Jaguars’ future in Jacksonville. I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t think there was great success ahead of us,” said Lamping.

“It starts with Shad, his enthusiasm, his commitment and his expectations, which are very high expectations, but I believe are very achievable. I believe they are achievable because we have the basic building blocks in place to achieve success,” Lamping said Monday.

Lamping will be responsible for all non-football facets of the organization, reporting to Khan. Jaguars General Manager Gene Smith also reports directly to Khan.

Khan expressed his satisfaction in being able to add Lamping’s expertise to the Jaguars staff.

“Here we have someone with the highest level of experience and expertise in marketing and stadium operations who would be an excellent fit for what we are trying to do with the Jaguars,” said Khan.

Lamping’s career has included 12 years with Anheuser-Busch, where he worked in positions including brand management, and he then spent 14 years as the president of the St. Louis Cardinals, where he was responsible for business and facilities operations, including the development and funding of a new Busch Stadium.

Lamping said Monday in a conference call with the media that he wanted to work for a team again.

“I had committed originally to be up here in New York for five years,” he said. “I really felt a really strong desire to stay in the NFL and, hopefully, do it with a team.”

During his time as president and CEO of MetLife Stadium, the New York Jets went to two AFC Championship games and the New York Giants won a Super Bowl.

“It really reminded me of what I missed about working for a team,” said Lamping. “I would love to be part of an organization that would bring a championship to Jacksonville.”

During his past two jobs there have been championships won in new stadiums, but it was too early for Lamping to commit to pursuing a new stadium for Jacksonville.

“I need to understand what EverBank Field is all about right now. I have heard good things about it. I can tell you that the best facilities are the facilities that continue to evolve year after year. Customers expect that and I hope that’s what we’ll find at EverBank Field,” said Lamping.

He plans to focus on building the Jaguars into a regional franchise to help fill EverBank Field on Sundays and he drew parallels from his time with the St. Louis Cardinals.

“They have focused on building the Cardinal brand throughout the Midwest and as a result they have about 40 percent of their fans that travel from regional markets to come to St. Louis to enjoy Cardinal games,” said Lamping.

“We need to start at the center of the target and make sure we are very, very strong in the Jacksonville community, but have a very focused and concentrated effort to develop the regional markets outside of Jacksonville,” said Lamping.

Without the possibility of a work stoppage looming on the calendar like it did before the 2011 season, local markets have already responded through ticket sales.

“We have sold about 1,000 season tickets at the club and suite levels,” said Robert Tilka, senior manager of ticket sales and premium seating for the Jaguars. “We are already ahead of where we were last year at this time.”

The next big ticket sales push will be contacting season ticketholders to ask if they will be renewing their seats, which will start at the beginning of March.

Lamping also will be reviewing the advertising opportunities available and under contract at the stadium to find out how the Jaguars can offer a better product.

“The first part of my career was on the sponsor side, so I’ve been on the buying side as well as the selling side of this proposition. I need to understand how the Jaguars sponsors seize the opportunities in Jacksonville and make sure we are being as creative as we can be to structure packages that make sense in today’s very competitive sports marketing environment,” said Lamping.

“I’m confident we will be able to move the needle and move it in short order,” he said.

jwilhelm@baileypub.com

356-2466

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