JACKSONVILLE – They're modern, historic – and they're really, really cool.
But know this, too, about the recently-reimagined US Assure Club at EverBank Field: as dazzling as they may be, they are critical to the history of the Jaguars. Without it, in fact, there might not be an NFL franchise in Jacksonville at all.
Janice Carter gets that. But mostly the long-time Jacksonville resident and original Jaguars season-ticket member knows the US Assure Club is where she wants to spend games.
And it's where she has spent fall Sundays for two decades.
"I love it," Carter said.
The same is true of Carolyn Alexander, whose late husband Joseph first bought season tickets shortly after the franchise was awarded in 1993. Carolyn and Joseph attended games together for nearly a decade, and she still attends games in the club after nearly two decades there.
"I love my Jacksonville Jaguars," Alexander said. "I love my club. I love my seats."
Carter and Alexander are among those who will own seats in the US Assure Club this season. As such, they will be among the first to experience their remarkable transformation.
She also will receive one of the commemorative license plates US Assure has produced as a gift this season for club members. The license plate is similar to one given to club members in the team's inaugural 1995 season, a gift that at the time acknowledged the importance of the club seats to the expansion process that landed the league's franchise in Jacksonville.
How critical are the clubs to Jacksonville's NFL story?
It was the sale of club seats that spearheaded the 1993 bid for an expansion franchise, a bid that at the time was considered a long shot nationally.
With then-Florida Times-Union publisher Carl Cannon leading the campaign, the team's ownership group – known as Touchdown Jacksonville! Ltd. – faced a September 3 deadline to sell 10,000 club seats. The ticket-selling campaign known as NFL Now! sold all 10,000 seats – $75 million worth – in 10 days, a stunning accomplishment that established Jacksonville as an NFL-worthy market.
Touchdown Jacksonville included not only eventual Jaguars Majority Owner Wayne Weaver, but Tom Petway, the father of current US Assure Chief Executive Officer Ty Petway.
"Just being a lifelong Jags fan, knowing the history, I thought it was important to be involved," Petway said of US Assure's continuing relationship with the Jaguars. "My family has been part of the Jaguars organization from the beginning, and I wanted our company, US Assure, to be associated with the transformation that started when Shad bought the team. We didn't want to come in at the end. We believed in them from the beginning. Who knows what's next? It's exciting to be a Jaguar. That's the whole deal."
How exciting is the area that bears US Assure's name? How state-of-the-art? Consider:
The west and east sides of the club now feature walkout patios at the 50-yard-line, a first among NFL stadiums. Old access into the general bowl has been replaced with a full wall of storefront glass, keeping the focus on the field and lighting the interior club area with sunlight.
The climate-controlled space features six Nanolumens LED displays, including a 19-feet-by-11-feet screen in each lower club area. New, cushioned seats greet season ticket members in the interior bowl, which features premium seating products such as club tables and bar rails. The design was conceived alongside architects from Populous and built by the team from Brasfield & Gorrie.
The renovated east and west clubs are at a cost of $26.6 million after 30,000 man hours put in since this February, and their installation puts EverBank Field's capacity at 64,428. They also bring the capacity of the clubs to 8,602, and Jaguars President Mark Lamping said season-ticket holders are expected to hold all club seats this season for the first time since the early days of the franchise.
Those are the details, but for club-seat members the experience is about more than amenities – or even what happens on the field. To those who made the club their Sunday home for nearly two decades, the club feel like just that: home.
"I've known the people I sit around since I've been going there," Carter said. "Some have moved around, but they still come back. You see people you've been seeing for years."
Alexander said the camaraderie in the stands on game day is a real thing.
"It's like a family," she said. "It's like a reunion every time the season starts back. If I have to travel, I try to make sure it's around the game. I'm going to be there unless it can't be helped."
And while what occurs from kickoff to game's end matters very much, club-owners say the Jaguars experiences begins well before kickoff – and actually before they enter the stadium on game day. When the Jaguars speak of being one of the NFL's best in-game experiences, they're speaking about something club owners live every home game.
"It's the atmosphere when you walk into the gates, really," Carter said. "Then you get inside and you hear everything going on. Each year you look around and you see something new. You have every food in the world. If you want something to drink, it's there – and you can shop. They're just very accommodating.
"I feel like the owners care about us, and they do everything they can to make it a very, very pleasant experience."