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Jacksonville Jaguars President Mark Lamping spoke to Meninak.

Lamping says Khan will lead Shipyards plan if no one else does

By David Chapman, Staff Writer

As long as the Shipyards property remains undeveloped, the Jacksonville Jaguars have an increased risk for instability as a franchise, according to its team president.

And, if no one will step up to lead the effort in a reasonable timeframe, Jaguars owner Shad Khan can — and will.

"We'll step in and do it," said Jaguars President Mark Lamping.

During a presentation Monday to the Meninak Club of Jacksonville, Lamping referred to the stretch of riverfront property as the "front door" to the sports complex, a term he has used in the past.

It also can be an area where Jaguars' fans, concert-goers and others can visit before and after their events.

"We have to make sure people are comfortable going to the sports complex," Lamping said.

Jacksonville isn't unlike other markets where commercial developers aren't exactly lining up to spend on projects, he said.

"So if somebody else isn't going to do it, then we have to make the decision," he said, before posing a question of franchise stability.

But, the team potentially accrues another benefit developers don't: fans more willing to attend games because of the enhanced experience. More fans through the gates means more locally generated revenue, which has slipped from a peak of No. 2 in the league in the mid-'90s to almost last in the 32-team league.

"We continue to be focused on those things we believe help stabilize the franchise," Lamping said after his presentation. "If people really find the sports complex as an appealing place to go, maybe an interesting place to live or there's enough to do to extend your stay, we think all of that supports or increases our value."

As for possible plans, Lamping said there has been nothing formal, but it "has to be mixed-use" and "has to be active 365 days a year, not just event days."

The concept would be for the team to partner with other developers and take a leadership role, although he stresses there is no timetable.

Khan told the Daily Record in June that his organization has talked with the City, which owns the 40-acre property, about the Shipyards site.

Since then, Lamping said developers from across the U.S. have been in contact about possibilities.

The site also is a possible landing spot for the USS Adams as a naval ship museum. Lamping said there have been no discussions with the group proposing the idea, but the concept could work within the development scope if it met certain criteria.

Also from Lamping's Monday presentation to Meninak:

• A few weeks back from London following their "home" game against the San Francisco 49ers, Lamping said he expects a "great economic return" from the trip. The increased awareness globally should mean more jobs and even a sliver of tourism will help the region, he says. The game was worth two home games in revenue for the Jaguars because of the larger crowd and higher ticket prices.

• In the same vein, Lamping said at home the team has been seeking to increase its regional impact and has made a marketing effort in Orlando, specifically to the eastern side of the city that's within a couple of hours in drive time.

• The EverBank Field improvements approved last week by City Council are a "game-changer" for the facility, he said, and will add years to its economic lifespan — a component that weighs heavily on its usefulness. As for the facility's physical life, he said it's "anybody's guess."

dchapman@baileypub.com

@writerchapman

(904) 356-2466

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