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From left, Jacksonville Jaguars President Mark Lamping, NAIOP President Gordon Steadman, The Players Championship Executive Director Matt Rapp and City Sports & Entertainment Executive Director Alan Verlander.
Photo by Karen Brune Mathis
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High-impact sports: City plans community economic study of Jaguars, The Players, more

by Karen Brune Mathis, Managing Editor

Citing sports’ $650 million annual economic impact on Charlotte, N.C., Jacksonville sports director Alan Verlander said Wednesday the City will launch a study to measure what football, golf, baseball, soccer and the other activities mean to Northeast Florida.

“We want to make it a true indicator of what sports can do for this community,” said Verlander, who was appointed in April as the City sports and entertainment executive director.

Verlander announced the study at a joint meeting of the NAIOP commercial real estate group and Urban Land Institute North Florida members. Almost 130 members of the groups attended the event at the Arena.

He said Charlotte’s study showed sports generated revenue not only for the events but also among retailers, hotels and other businesses.

“We’ll do a study like that,” he said.

Verlander joined Jacksonville Jaguars President Mark Lamping and The Players Championship Executive Director Matt Rapp to talk about the impact of sports on the area’s economic development.

Lamping said he and Jaguars owner Shad Khan will visit London next month and host a reception for businesses interested in Jacksonville. The Jaguars will play one home game in London each season for four years starting in 2013.

Lamping said after the meeting the reception is planned the second week of October and that JAX Chamber Chair Tom Van Berkel is expected to attend. He said the JAX Chamber is identifying companies to invite to the reception.

Van Berkel will be in London on business.

Lamping also said he would like to see a Veterans Day weekend tradition begin this year. The Jaguars will play a home game Nov. 8 at EverBank Field, followed by the University of Florida Gators basketball team taking on the Georgetown Hoyas on Nov. 9 at Naval Station Mayport. Veterans Day is Nov. 11.

“We’d love to play at home every Thursday night before Veterans Day,” he said.

Rapp said the televised Players Championship reaches households worldwide. “Our audience, they are business decisionmakers,” he said. The more the area can be shown, the more CEOs will be exposed to Northeast Florida.

Verlander said after the meeting the economic impact study would need to cover a year of events.

It would look at “a 12-month period to show here’s what sports have done for this community,” he said.

Verlander acknowledged that impact studies can be designed to show “whatever you want to make it” and he wants a realistic look.

The list of events and teams to study includes football, golf, baseball, soccer, basketball and the myriad regular and special events and activities.

“It’s going to take some time to pull all this together,” Verlander said. Included would be the Request for Proposal process and determining the scope of the study.

He did not know what funding would be needed, saying that would depend on the depth of the study. “We have to determine what we want to accomplish,” he said.

Verlander said sports leaders and representatives are meeting monthly to talk about the industry, activities and opportunities.

He envisions a more comprehensive “sports council” to involve all the area’s sporting entities to meet regularly.

kmathis@baileypub.com

@MathisKb

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