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View from the O-Zone: Wow, wow, wow


JACKSONVILLE – Man, oh, man …

Or to put it more succinctly and every bit as accurately, "Wow."

Wow. Wow. Wow.

Did you see it? Were you watching the Jaguars' 2015 State of the Franchise on Tuesday?

If you were and you weren't saying, "Wow, wow, wow," when Jaguars Owner Shad Khan unveiled his vision for Jacksonville's Shipyards … well, maybe you're not from Jacksonville, or perhaps things that change the dynamics of a franchise, a fan base, a city and a community just don't appeal to you.

"A game-changer," Khan called it later.

Ya think?

This was more than a game-changer. It was a city-changer, a community-changer, a perspective-alterer. The scope of all that changing goes well beyond a conversation about football, but if you weren't watching – and if you weren't on Twitter – here's quickly what you missed:

The Jaguars held their 2015 State of the Franchise news conference Tuesday in the US Assure West Club at EverBank Field. It was the third such version of event that has become a tradition in Khan's three years as owner, and for Jaguars followers it has become a really cool offseason event, in which Khan announced – or at least, expanded on and discussed – significant changes that not only have enhanced the experience of fans, but stabilized the Jaguars in Jacksonville.

Video Boards. Swimming Pools. Logo change. Helmet re-design.

The London initiative. Improved game-day experience.

Some of those have been unveiled at previous State of the Jaguars events, and some have just been discussed, but the theme at every event has been Khan's full-on, actions-speak-louder-than-words efforts to improve the franchise.

Those previous State of the Jaguars events have been cool. They've inspired Twitter buzz, and they've given Jaguars fans and the people of Jacksonville reason to smile.

Then came Tuesday, and …


Wow. Wow. Wow.

Before the wows began Tuesday, Jaguars President Mark Lamping talked about the financial state of the franchise. He said while there are challenges involved with being one of the NFL's smallest markets, the Jaguars have made strides in significant areas.

Lamping's overall message: the team is going in the right direction on the all-important local revenue front, but there is still a long way to go.

A significant stride in this area came early this week with the announcement that US Assure will be the naming rights partner for EverBank Field Clubs, a premium space that will now be known as the US Assure Clubs at EverBank Field. Extensive renovations for the area are envisioned by the team pending approach by the State of Florida for a sales tax rebate application.

The club renovations are big news, important news, and the renderings for these areas were really, really cool. A whole lot early on Tuesday was really, really cool, in fact.

Then came the Shipyards presentation …

The renderings for the shipyards development in downtown Jacksonville that were presented by Owner Shad Khan at the 2015 Jaguars State of the Franchise.

What followed was more than cool and not even adequately described by "Man, oh, man," or "wow," or any other written word. You have to see it to understand it, so if you haven't seen it, look around the photo galleries and the videos on this site.

What you'll see is state-of-the-art and game-changing to a point that's hard to describe, and hard to adequately put in perspective. What you'll see is something that requires vision on a rare scale, a vision that requires an ability to see beyond what has been there before, and beyond what many might believe possible.

That's why the title of Tuesday's presentation – "Vision for Shipyards Development" – perhaps seemed a touch inadequate. Yes, it's a vision for developing the previously underdeveloped 48 acres of riverfront property, an area in downtown Jacksonville that has featured enough failed development and false starts over the years that Khan correctly and poetically on Tuesday referred to it as a "Boulevard of Broken Dreams."

Yes, it's also vision to turn Downtown Jacksonville into a riverfront showcase, a state-of-the-art, vibrant, iconic focal point of the city. And yes, it's a vision for downtown Jacksonville to be the doorstep to the Jaguars.

But if Tuesday's presentation was those things, it was so much more. Khan was asked several times – and we paraphrase here – why he went so big. Some people expected the presentation to perhaps focus on an indoor practice facility. Some expected a few renderings of some very, very nice buildings. Many expected many things because this presentation had been anticipated for a very long time, but few observers expected something this big, this grand, this far-reaching.

Why so big? Khan's answer was simple.

"If you go piecemeal, you're not going to accomplish it," Khan said.

Tuesday was the furthest thing imaginable from piecemeal. It was total in every sense of the word, a game-changer so complete that it changes more than that. And while it's not a done deal – approval processes and funding issues on projects of this enormity are anything but – there were few signs from Jacksonville mayor Alvin Brown, Khan or anyone else in a dignitary-stuffed room Tuesday that there wasn't a lot of reality behind this vision.

"I think this is an economic revival, I think this is a visual revival, it's also really a revival for the Jaguars," Khan said.

Or to put it more succinctly and every bit as accurately, "Wow."

Wow. Wow. Wow.

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