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View from the O-Zone: Truly amazing, yet again


JACKSONVILLE – As usual, words aren't the point.

As usual, they're not enough, either.

So, why read this View from the O-Zone in which we discuss yet another dazzling, tone-setting State of the Franchise presentation? Just to know this, really:

Jaguars Owner Shad Khan has done it again.

Not that that's a surprise. Not that we aren't used to this.

Not that Khan and Jaguars President Mark Lamping haven't made rolling out a dizzyingly-modern blueprint that will dramatically, permanently, absolutely improve the franchise's stability a really cool, important tradition.

But just because that's true, don't lose sight of what happened at EverBank Field Friday. What happened was special – again. And amazing – again.

"This is a great plan," Khan said.

Khan said this shortly after the Jaguars unveiled renderings for not only the redesigned US Assure Clubs, but the covered flex field and an amphitheater that will transform EverBank Field's south end zone and adjacent area. He and Lamping said many other important things at Friday's 2016 State of the Franchise, but the unveiling was unquestionably the "wow" moment.

And what a moment …

The renderings can be seen elsewhere on, but here are some high points:

*Redesigned upper and lower clubs with a glass-walled field view …

*A covered, multi-purpose climate-controlled "flex field" that will serve as an indoor practice facility and so much more …

*A 5,500-seat amphitheater that's about the coolest, most-state-of-the-art thing seen around these parts since … well, since the designs for the pools and the scoreboards, which turned out pretty darned cool. …

"The renderings maybe don't do it justice," Khan said. "We think it's going to be spectacular. We want it to be a draw for Jacksonville."

You kind of knew when Khan said "indoor facility" he didn't mean a bubble or a glamorized airplane hangar, didn't you?

Yet, the improvements aren't just for show. Or flash. They're a part of a constant, ongoing process of solidifying and stabilizing this franchise in Jacksonville. You remember those Los Angeles rumors a long time ago? You know how you didn't hear any when the Rams announced their move their early this month?

It's days such as Friday that have made that happen – that, and a categorical, ongoing, heartfelt commitment to making the Jaguars and the city of Jacksonville stronger.

Khan did that again Friday.

"If Shad's going to do something he wants it to be the best it can possibly be," Lamping said. "That was the challenge here. We could have done just a normal indoor practice facility. I had pricing on it. We could have built it and had it done by the beginning of August.

"The more we thought about it and Shad thought about it, we thought, 'Why don't we try to do something bigger, better and more special? Let's not just settle for what is the easy way to do it.' That's what's led us to where we are now."

Take those two sentences – 'Why don't we try to do something bigger, better and more special? Let's not just settle for what is the easy way to do it' – and frame them, put them in italics … whatever. They serve as a motto for Khan since joining the Jaguars, and his big-picture vision for the franchise and the city.

"Shad doesn't settle," Lamping said. "He doesn't want to have an NFL franchise that just survives in Jacksonville. He wants a franchise that's well-respected throughout the league, a franchise that fights well above its weight, that the community can be proud of. I'm not suggesting we're there now – we're not – but that's our aspiration. It's just to be, 'Hey, we're No. 29.'''

So, was Friday a cool day at EverBank Field? Absolutely.

It was cool because it was another day when we saw on full, public display the vision Khan has for this franchise, and for Jacksonville. It was yet another day when we saw tangible evidence of this franchise moving dramatically, decisively – and very transparently – into the future.

Yes, the Jaguars also announced a ticket-price increase, and while that won't be popular, it was necessary. Local revenue is critical, and while the Jaguars improved in that area in the last available NFL data, they must continue to do so. Everything the Jaguars do locally – the upgrades, the London initiative, etc. – is about maintaining enough local revenue to be financially viable; the price increase is part of that.

"At the end of the day, we're doing this to realize a stable NFL franchise here in Jacksonville," Lamping said.

But that wasn't the entire story Friday, and it wasn't the major story.

No, the major story was yet another glimpse into Khan's vision for the franchise, and that glimpse was cool – because whatever Khan decides to do ends up being cool. The locker room, the video board, the pools, the …

Well, we could go on and on, but those are just words.

And as usual when it comes to Khan's vision for the Jaguars, words just aren't enough.

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