JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars reached out, and the fans have reached back.
That’s just one reason Jaguars Senior Vice President of Fan Engagement Hussain Naqi said he considers the team’s six-event fan forum a success – and just one reason he said the idea likely will continue.
“We’ve really hit our mark,” Naqi said Tuesday following the event at EverBank Field, the fourth of a scheduled six such events planned around Northeast Florida over a three-week period in late February and early March.
“The fans have been incredibly generous with their comments and incredibly generous with their support.”
Tuesday’s event in EverBank’s West Touchdown Club featured an overflow crowd, with another fan forum scheduled at the Jacksonville Airport Hotel Wednesday at 6 p.m. The final event in the series – scheduled to be held at Casa Marina in Jacksonville Beach on Tuesday, March 12 – is full and no longer available for registration.
“It’s an opportunity to explain where we’re going, and why we’re doing the things we’re doing,” Naqi said. “But it’s far more important for us to give our fans an opportunity to say their piece and ask their questions. As a fan – and I am a diehard fan – I know how special this opportunity is.
“We’re excited to provide that opportunity.”
Tuesday’s event featured not only Jaguars President Mark Lamping – who makes the feature presentation and answers questions at each event – but new Head Coach Gus Bradley and new General Manager David Caldwell.
The trio answered questions for close to an hour Tuesday.
But Lamping said while answering fans’ questions has been part of the appeal of the event, just as key has been what the team has learned listening to fans.
“The response has been great,” Lamping said. “We’ve learned a tremendous amount, and I think our fans have appreciated the opportunity to be with us. Those were the goals – for us to learn, and to give our fans an opportunity to express opinions on any type of subject, and to give them something they enjoy. So far, so good.”
Naqi, too, said the feedback from fans has been invaluable, noting a fan’s question Tuesday regarding being asked to sit down during home games.
“My responsibility is really to make sure these fans have a great experience,” Naqi said. “When you hear things like, ‘We haven’t necessarily treated someone who has been standing up the way we want to,’ it’s important for me to go talk to that person to see if there’s a way we can straighten this thing out. Maybe there’s a place that is better-suited for standing ones, or a way to work around it, or maybe it’s a retraining issue.
“All information is good information for us. It’s good to let people have a voice. The onus is on us to follow up, but I think the fans have gotten out of it as much as we have.”
Naqi said the plan is to continue the series in the future.
“I absolutely foresee that,” Naqi said. “This is something Mark has been receptive to, and that our football staff has been receptive to. That’s something we really pride ourselves in. We’re trying to make sure we give our fans as much access as we can. The idea that regardless of where you sit, where you come from or how long you have been with our team, the fact that you can come ask the head coach, the general manager and the team president anything you want – I don’t know that any other NFL franchises do it. It really has been an unbelievable thing.”