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State of the Jaguars: Progress made – and more needed


JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars in many ways are in a very good state indeed.

Jaguars President Mark Lamping said as much Tuesday, and at the same time said something else is just as true:

They need to keep getting better.

Lamping, speaking at the 2015 State of the Jaguars event Tuesday, covered a variety of topics concerning the franchise's overall health. In particular, he said local revenue – a key element for the long-term stability of the franchise – grew from 2013 to 2014 for a second consecutive year.

"We're nowhere near where we need to be, but we're clearly making progress," he said.

Lamping, who spoke for about 45 minutes Tuesday before Owner Shad Khan unveiled the team's vision for the high-profile Shipyards proposal, said the Jaguars' local revenue increased 23.5 percent from 2013 to 2014 after an 8.3 percent improvement from 2012 to 2013.

Lamping said that growth allowed the team to keep pace with the rest of the NFL, while last year's growth allowed them to improve in relation to other teams.

"Clearly two conclusions – going in the right direction, long way to go," Lamping said, adding that local revenue comes primarily from three sources: ticketing (60 percent), sponsorship (33.3 percent) and fan spending (5.9 percent).

Lamping called sponsorship revenue "an area that is becoming more and more important," increasing 25 percent each of the last two years. Lamping said local, national and international support is critical to sponsorship revenue.

Lamping and Khan each said this week's announcement of a new sponsorship deal with US Assure was key in that regard.

The Jaguars and US Assure on Monday announced that the longtime Jacksonville insurance company will be the naming rights partner for the team's east and west club areas, each of which could soon undergo significant renovations.

"This is a huge initiative for us," Lamping said. "Hopefully we'll be able to get these renovations done."

US Assure has been a presence in the Jacksonville business community for nearly 40 years. US Assure chairman and CEO Ty Petway's father, Tom, was an original Jaguars minority owner and was instrumental in Jacksonville originally being awarded the franchise.

"To have a family like the Petways show confidence in the direction we're going, that almost shows more to us than the commercial aspect of this relationship," Lamping said. "We think internally it's a big statement."

The proposed club seat renovations depend on state funding from a sales tax rebate, with the Jaguars and the city recently submitting a bid to receive $1 million a year. The bid is expected to be discussed at a meeting of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee Thursday, and a state economist has ranked the Jaguars' bid second behind Orlando, which bid for funds to build a new soccer stadium.

"Hopefully, it goes well," Lamping said. "If it doesn't go well, maybe there's Plan B, I don't know. This is a big week for this."

The club renovations would include the creation of two new club decks, with new upper and lower club lounges. The work would remove more than 2,700 seats, reducing EverBank's premium capacity from 12,826 to 10,092 and its overall capacity to 66,851 to 64,107. Lamping said the removal of tarps covering more than 3,000 seats remains a goal.

Also on Tuesday:

*Lamping said the Jaguars were the fourth-fastest growing team in the NFL in terms of tickets sold this past season. "We had a good year in that regard," Lamping said, adding that the Jaguars had 11 percent growth in ticket revenue from 2013 to 2014. The 11 percent growth was the second-highest in the NFL, ranking behind only the San Francisco 49ers, who this past season moved into their new stadium. …

*Lamping said the Jaguars also raised their average ticket price by 6.4 percent, doing so by adding premium products as opposed to an across-the-board price increase. Lamping said the implementation of variable pricing and introduction of premium seating made that possible. He said the team's objective is to get the average ticket price near the middle of the league, which is essential to creating enough local revenue to keep the franchise stable and competitive. "That's not going to happen overnight, but that's what our goal is," he said, adding, "We're trying to find every way we possibly can to get our average ticket price up without going across the board to all of our fans with a price increase." …

Images from the Jaguars State of the Franchise press conference held at EverBank Field.

*Lamping also said the team's game at Wembley Stadium in London remained key to the team's stability, generating about 15 percent of the team's local revenue. Khan on Tuesday reiterated what he said in London in November and at last month's Super Bowl that he planned to try to extend the team's commitment to playing a game in London each year. …

*Lamping said the Jaguars' radio and television networks have expanded, and said the team will continue its recent commitment to expand the fan base regionally. "We can't walk away from regional marketing," Lamping said. …

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