- 2012 - March - 14th -

Jaguars president sees opportunities

by Joe Wilhelm Jr., Staff Writer

Based on his experiences with three high-profile sports franchises — the New York Giants, New York Jets and St. Louis Cardinals — new Jacksonville Jaguars President Mark Lamping sees similar opportunities in Jacksonville.

Lamping began his career with the Jaguars last week evaluating staff and facilities, joining a leadership team that includes general manager Gene Smith and head coach Mike Mularkey.

“My fundamental role is to do everything we can to make Gene Smith and Coach Mularkey’s job easier,” said Lamping in an interview Tuesday.

“From a functional standpoint, I am basically responsible for all the business aspects of the Jaguars,” he said.

Though Lamping said he was impressed with the Jaguars staff, daily evaluations will continue.

“I think evaluations happen every day, whether you are the first year in the organization or 10th or 20th. I’ve been very pleased with the staff that we’ve found here,” he said.

“Does that mean there won’t be some tweaking? Obviously, every organization evolves. Evolution happens quicker when there is an ownership change dropped in the middle of the organization. First we need to determine where we want to end up and everyone is given the resources and the ability to make decisions to get there,” he said.

A veteran of more than 20 years as an executive in professional sports, Lamping became the Jaguars’ first president in 15 years.

He was named president of the Jaguars on Feb. 13 and his first day on the job was Feb. 27.

Lamping’s professional career includes serving as a marketing executive with Anheuser-Busch, commissioner of the Continental Basketball Association, 14 seasons as president of the St. Louis Cardinals and the past four years as CEO of New Meadowlands Stadium Co., the joint venture formed between New York Giants and the New York Jets to develop and operate the new $1.6 billion stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

Lamping also understands that he is coming into a different situation than he has experienced during the last few stops on his career path.

St. Louis and New York offer larger fan bases, but they also have their challenges.

“I tend to look at what we have and not at what we don’t have. We have one professional team that does business in North Florida and Southern Georgia,” he said.

“I just came from New York, where there were 10 major league teams, so there is not a lot of clutter (here). There are a huge number of football fans in Northern Florida and Southern Georgia and they are very knowledgeable fans.”

He made the comparison between his hometown of St. Louis and Jacksonville.

“They are similar in a lot of ways. One is a little bit of the attitude. In St. Louis, some of the time we were our own worst enemy. We were very protective of the things that were St. Louis,” said Lamping.

“The other side of the coin is that we were always envious of Chicago and when you go through that, sometimes you don’t spend as much time focusing on those things that are really unique, special and unique about where you are.”

He said Jacksonville is one of the most “geographically desirable places to live in the country.”

“If you live here, you probably take it for granted a little bit,” said Lamping.

Lamping explained that the comparison relates to the Jaguars in that the team was a source of pride for the city when it was first announced and when it would contend in the playoffs.

“Think about the pride Jacksonville had when the team first came here. It was like ‘we shocked the world.’ You all had this great success,” said Lamping.

“Then you go through this tough economic time and it’s hard to remember when it was really good. I don’t see any reason why Jacksonville can’t rediscover its swagger a little bit. There are a lot of wonderful things that have happened here, that are happening here today and will continue to happen in the future,” he said.



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