JACKSONVILLE – The initiative was simple and clearly stated.
Jaguars President Mark Lamping, speaking at the first Jaguars Fan Forum Monday night, wasted little time setting the tone for those gathered at the Sheraton Hotel on Jacksonville's Southside.
"I don't know that we'll always be able to give our customers the answers they want to hear," Lamping said at the start of an hour-long presentation, the first of six such events planned around the Jacksonville area in the coming weeks.
"But I do know we'll always be able to give a very honest and direct answer."
Lamping did just that Monday, outlining for the gathered fans the Jaguars' recent rebranding initiative – Proud, Bold, Committed – and other key off-field issues, then answering questions for more than a half hour.
Lamping called the series a conduit to answer fans' question, with the idea to be as "open and transparent as this franchise can be."
Among other items Lamping discussed the team's move this past season to a black jersey as a primary home color, a move that made the team's traditional home teal jerseys the alternate jersey.
"The goal was to make a change," Lamping said. "The idea was to continue to have teal be a part of every uniform that we wear, and that that teal jersey would become our version of that Notre Dame green jersey. Notre Dame has a green jersey they wear occasionally. You don't know when they're going to wear it, but when they bring it out, there's tremendous support and it gets a lot of attention.
"We still do have our teal jersey. We're just returning it for special occasions."
Lamping also emphasized that while the Jaguars' game against the San Francisco 49ers in London on October 27 is a sellout, Jaguars' season-ticket holders may acquire tickets through the team's ticket office.
"We asked the NFL to hold tickets across virtually every pricing category," Lamping said. "We will have more tickets than our fans will consume."
Lamping also discussed:
*The sound system at Everbank Field. The system was upgraded last offseason, and Lamping said while overall reaction was that the sound in the stadium had improved, a set of supplemental speakers will be installed this offseason for areas still experiencing sound difficulties. "We're not going to have sections of the stadium where you can't hear," Lamping said. "If it means we need to invest more in speakers, we're going to demand that that investment is made."
*The proposed video boards at EverBank Field.Lamping said the state-of-the-art video boards proposed by the Jaguars for EverBank Field are not a luxury from the franchise's perspective. "We think it's a fundamental part of your experience when you go to the games," he said. "If we can't deliver a good experience, then you're not going to come. The financial consequences are not good for anyone." Lamping said the issue of funding for the boards is similar to the renovation of the Gator Bowl in the early 1990s, a renovation that brought the stadium to NFL standards and enabled the city to pursue an NFL team. "We just need to get people to be creative and buy into the idea that what we're trying to do today is no different than the foresight this community had in the early 1990s," Lamping said. "They debated it and they made the decision, 'We want the NFL to be here, and we're willing to build a stadium to house it.' That stadium needs to stay well-maintained. That stadium needs to stay up to date. The mechanism to do that is no different than it was when the original renovation of the Gator Bowl occurred. We can get that video board done. We can do it by simply allocating dollars that are coming out of the stadium. Those dollars have to be used by state statute to go into the stadium itself.'' Lamping said the team is pushing hard for the video boards because "we know we have to deal with the stadium. At some point we have to do it. We'd rather do it sooner than later, and if we can do some things that can make your experience better, we know you'll come in greater numbers." Added Lamping, "It's a lot easier to get done than you might think, but it's going to take some courage, and having fans' support this is a good way to help get it done."
For information on the fan forum series, please visit this link.