JACKSONVILLE – In addition to multiple major announcements, Jaguars President Mark Lamping during Thursday's 2018 State of the Franchise outlined several areas of growth and several areas that must continue to grow; senior writer John Oehser reviews the highlights …
1.Season ticket sales are up – big-time.Among the highlights of Thursday's 2018 SOTF: Lamping revealing that the 2017 AFC South title and subsequent run to the AFC Championship game has resulted in an expected boost in 2018 season ticket sales. Lamping said the team is currently projecting its highest season ticket renewal rate since it began tracking that figure in 2004. "So, a lot of optimism for this offseason," he said, adding that the team also expects to sell more season tickets than it has in any year since 2004 aside from for the 2010 "Team Teal" year when the Jaguars made a strong offseason-long push to sell season tickets based on ensuring the franchise's long-term future in Jacksonville. Renewals are running 20 percent ahead of last season, Lamping said, with 7,500 new season tickets already sold. "It could be a great year," Lamping said. The Jaguars announced shortly after last season that the tarps that previously covered 3,501 seats inEverBank Field's upper deck will be removed for 2018. "There is a lot of importance being placed on creating a real home-field advantage here at EverBank Field," Lamping said Thursday.
2.Interest growing.Lamping on Thursday also noted that interest in the Jaguars grew dramatically in 2018 – with more work needed. The Jaguars' were the NFL's sixth-fastest growing team in 2017 in terms of Twitter followers, and were No. 1 in growth in terms of Facebook following. The team was No. 1 in the NFL growth in article views and video views on jaguars.com. The team also ranked 29th-32nd in those same areas in terms of overall numbers. "We're growing, but we're still a small market, and we need to find unique and creative solutions to deal with this," Lamping said. He also noted that the Jaguars for the first time since Owner Shad Khan purchased the team in January 2012 had a higher local television ranking (24.0) than the league average (23.8).
3.London remains critical.One theme on Thursday that remained similar to past SOTFs: the importance of the team's annual game in London in terms of local revenue. The team has emphasized the importance of local revenue at all SOTFs since the program's inception in 2013 because local revenue is key to long-term viability in Jacksonville – and the ability to remain competitive against other NFL teams. Lamping during Thursday's presentation said the team's London game accounted for 11 percent of local revenue in 2017. He also noted that more NFL teams have realized the importance of a presence in London since the Jaguars began playing a game each season there in 2013, adding "A lot of teams see in London what we see in London, and we have to protect our position."
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4.The stadium in Jacksonville continues to be critical.Since Khan's 2012 arrival, the Jaguars and the City of Jacksonville have invested in major ways – state-of-the-art locker rooms and training facilities, the world-famous video boards, the swim spas and cabanas on the north end zone deck, renovations to the US Assure Club, Daily's Place, etc. Lamping on Thursday noted that since the Jaguars entered the NFL in 1995 the Buffalo Bills and Jaguars are the only two NFL teams to have not relocated, built a new stadium or undergone at least $300 million in renovations to their home field. "Since we've started making these State of the Franchise presentations, we've had two teams leave their markets to go to new markets and we've had a third announce their intentions with the approval to move," Lamping said. "That leaves us and the Bills. It's the reality of what we need to deal with and why investment in the stadium is so important. We recognize and it's why we have been investing in this city-owned stadium so aggressively. But without continued investment, the economic life of the stadium will quickly wind down. We have to continue to keep it well-maintained and make investments in the stadium that are relevant to the changing needs of our fans."