Jaguars President Mark Lamping: "We need more urgency…"

20181018-Lamping

JACKSONVILLE – Mark Lamping put it simply:

Jaguars owner Shad Khan's decision this week to withdraw his bid to purchase Wembley Stadium in London is not ideal financially for the Jaguars. In fact, it's very much a negative.

"But its not something we can't overcome," Lamping said.

Lamping, the Jaguars' president, spoke to Jacksonville media for about 15 minutes at TIAA Bank Field on Thursday – emphasizing that withdrawing the Wembley bid increases the importance of potential city/franchise-partnered, revenue-producing projects such as the Shipyards and Lot J proposals.

"We need more urgency and we need to continue to look for new opportunities," Lamping said.

Lamping, as he and Khan have done multiple times in recent months, emphasized that a primary reason for the bid was to strengthen the Jaguars' financial viability in Jacksonville.

Lamping said while football revenues alone won't make the Jaguars financially stable, Khan remains committed to the market – and that the Jaguars will continue to look for creative ways to increase local revenue.

While Lamping said Wembley was not a "silver bullet" for financial stability in Jacksonville, it was to be a "plank" in a "very long bridge" toward such viability.

"The fact that it's not going to happen puts pressure on us to find other ways to generate the revenue that would have come from there," Lamping said. "We're confident we're going to do that, but from a financial standpoint it's not a positive. It's a negative.

"But it's a negative that through our commitment and creativity we should be able to overcome."

Lamping was asked his confidence level moving forward with the "Lot J" development, the proposals for which the Jaguars made public at the State of the Franchise last spring.

"I'm confident that we're committed to getting the project done," Lamping said. "I'm confident Shad's financial support is there. I'm confident we're willing to take some risk because of the potential upside, but I also know 100 percent it has to be a partnership with the city of Jacksonville. We've had very positive conversations with the city. We still have a ways to go.

"The spotlight is a little brighter on those today than it was yesterday."

Lamping said acquiring Wembley was to serve the "very specific purpose" of strengthening the Jaguars in Jacksonville. He called it no different than other Jaguars-driven projects such as an annual home game in London, "big events" such as the Lynyrd Skynyrd Labor Day Weekend Concert at TIAA Bank Field and the Daily's Place amphitheater adjacent to TIAA Bank Field.

"There is no silver bullet," he said. "If there was one thing we could do to solidify the Jaguars here in Jacksonville, we'd go do it. But it doesn't exist. It's only going to be found through a series of actions. It's why we have so many things on the drawing board.

"It makes the things on the drawing board much more important than they may have been yesterday, and we need to work really hard to find other ideas."

Lamping added, "Daily's Place has been awesome. We need to find 10 more things like that. The impact of the Jaguars' game in London has been very significant. We need to find other things like that.

"We have Shad's commitment and I think we have the creativity to be able to get it done."

The Jaguars since 2013 have played one game per season in Wembley, a game that typically generates a little more than 10 percent of the team's local revenue. The team will play the Philadelphia Eagles at Wembley a week from Sunday.

Lamping also was asked if he believed the Jaguars would be able to secure an annual game in London after their current one-game-per-season deal expires in 2020.

"We have every interest and intent in doing that," Lamping said. "Other teams have figured it out. The best example is what's happening right now in London. You have three [NFL] teams [playing host to home games there this season]. Each team has different unique issues they have to deal with, and all three have moved home games to London. You had Oakland last week. You have [the Los Angeles Chargers] next week. You have the Jaguars the week after. That tells you all you need to know about the teams interested in London."

The Oakland Raiders are expected to move to Las Vegas beginning in the 2020 season. The Chargers moved from San Diego to Los Angeles last season. The Jaguars are in the NFL's second-smallest market.

Lamping said purchasing Wembley would have greatly enhanced the team's position in a London market increasingly coveted by other NFL teams.

"Had the transaction gone through, it would have made it a lot easier," Lamping said. "This is our sixth year, and we haven't owned Wembley for six years. It's not like it can't be done. It can be done. It's just going to make it more difficult."

Lamping also was asked about the prospect of a new stadium in Jacksonville, something he said "was not at the top of the list" of potential initiatives. He added that the Jaguars are focused on TIAA Bank Field reaching its full potential, noting long-term issues such as the sun on the stadium's east side and an aging press box.

Lamping added that – like Wembley – a new stadium is not a "silver bullet" for financial stability.

"The question is what's the capacity of the market place," Lamping said. "Teams often build new stadiums because they believe there's an untapped river of revenue, and that they just didn't have the facility to take advantage of it. I'm not sure that's the case here. We have to keep the stadium up to date, but it's not as if we do that everything's OK."

Lamping also addressed recent rumors about Khan wanting relocate the franchise to London, calling them "driven by a conspiracy-theory motivated press in the'' United Kingdom.

"You might as well go read some guy on Twitter and give it credibility," Lamping said, calling the rumors "all nonsense."

"I think what Jags fans should do is look at the actions of Shad Khan since he bought the team," Lamping said. "Hopefully at some point in time we'll be judged fully by our actions and not what speculators choose to say. …

"Judge us on what we do, and I think people will be led in the proper direction."

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