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Gene Frenette: In EverBank Field makeover, Shad Khan sends big message

Posted: July 26, 2014 - 9:26pm  |  Updated: July 26, 2014 - 9:29pm

In Jacksonville pro football lore, the night of July 26, 2014, should be committed to memory. It wasn’t as big as when this city received an NFL expansion team (Nov. 30, 1993), but do not underestimate the power of a reinvigorated marriage.

What transpired Saturday night at EverBank Field — at a Fulham FC-D.C. United soccer friendly/Carrie Underwood concert — was essentially our city and the Jaguars renewing their marriage vows.

Only a naïve person would have any lingering doubt about Jaguars owner Shad Khan and his commitment to making the NFL work in Jacksonville. Saturday night’s unveiling of the world’s largest video boards (60 feet high, 362 feet wide), as part of a $63 million makeover to EverBank, sent the strongest message yet about the Jaguars being here for the long haul.

“It’s a brand-new stadium,” said Jaguars GM Dave Caldwell. “We pulled up tape of the old scoreboard. Oh, my God. It’s like high school to Disney World.”

This was a historic night because, frankly, Jacksonville and its NFL franchise needed a splash. Not necessarily from water in EverBank’s north end-zone swimming pools (spectacular view, by the way), but a symbolic reminder of how much the merger between the city and Jaguars must occasionally be rejuvenated.

For the Jaguars’ biggest cynics, the debut of these eye-catching video boards and other stadium amenities should cast the NFL team in a different light. Not from a football standpoint yet, but certainly as a business surging to the NFL forefront in trying to provide fan comfort.

“Actions speak louder than words about the investment they’ve made in the stadium,” said EverBank CEO Rob Clements. “They’ve raised the bar significantly in terms of the game-day experience. The rest of the league is now playing catch-up.”

Think about this chain reaction set in motion in less than three years: Former owner Wayne Weaver sells the Jaguars to Khan, mostly because he doesn’t want to wait to find another deep-pocketed owner committed to the NFL succeeding in Jacksonville.

Weaver’s transaction results in the organization being revamped from top to bottom. With Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley leading the football team, it gives the fan base hope that the Jaguars can return to relevance.

That remains a work in progress. Who knows if rookie quarterback Blake Bortles and all of Caldwell’s acquisitions will turn the Jaguars into a playoff contender?

But when you look at the bells and whistles of this football venue, at EverBank making a 10-year, $43 million commitment to retain stadium naming rights, at Khan’s massive investment in the Jaguars and the city’s economic future, what’s not to like?

The most deafening cheer came when Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown introduced Khan with as much exuberance as he could muster. An appreciative crowd gave him a standing ovation. After the spectacular HD video boards were revealed in their full glory, Khan told me: “Awesome. Very emotional if you’ve got any blood in your veins.”

Khan has given Jaguars fans almost everything. Now all that’s left is for his team to start winning.

Comments (6)

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Jag Cynic DeVille
Jag Cynic DeVille 07/27/14 - 05:26 pm
A Dog and Pony show for lack

A Dog and Pony show for lack of a a) serious about football owner, b) experienced GM with proven ability to acquire and manage a good roster, winning HC, and c) lack of a winning HC (and staff).

The better exhertion of organizational energy would have been to get the best winning GM out there. Even now, better leadership by any GM would consider the what ifs: Like what is PLAN B at QB? Blake?
Not getting Trey Mason was a blunder, esp. after getting TG and signing him for 3 years! Of course letting MJD walk was also a BIG mistake.

To turn this club around one must begin, which DC did last year! Now, in year 2 he is still making rookie mistakes. better p/u that FA running QB, hurry, this may well be your LAST chance.... for Tebow, for your GM job, and for Jacksonville to be a winner for a change!

Jungle Cat
Jungle Cat 07/27/14 - 11:31 am
The modifications mean next

The modifications mean next to nothing. Marriages based on big house, big car, big rings, big yacht, and big whatever are just as susceptible to disappointment, disloyalty, dishonor, distance, and finally divorce as the poorest, non-materialistic betrothals in existence today are.

The poor in Jacksonville typically don't have air conditioning. Amazing at one o'clock in the morning on a hot summer night, in that still, which tends to amplify the step of a sleepy ant on his way back to the bed, you can almost hear those Santa Ana winds calling Khan's name.

Khan? Khan? Where are you, Khan?

bigeasyz 07/27/14 - 10:20 am
Will this help Jags to win??

Will this help Jags to win?? NO. But, it sure will put dollars in Shockey Khan's pocket...

Mockingjay 07/27/14 - 07:52 am
Premium Member
What Im opposed to is the

What Im opposed to is the lopsidedness of the relationships where this community gives and gives with little in return.

The Jaguars and Everbank are taking in money hand over fist using OUR municipal stadium and we have yet to get a decent deal for the use of OUR stadium and even then the Jaguars want it all back.

That scoreboard and swimming pool deal is consuming all of the revenue that is supposed to be going to the maintenance and improvements to all of the entertainment venues but NOW the tax payers will have to cover those expenses so I will indeed be paying.

Jaguars after taking OUR money for improvements are taking all of the revenue from advertisements except for 4 events yet WE taxpayers are the ones giving the most money for those improvements.

Jagaurs and everbank have easily blown off the third party in this venture which are the tax payers that own it all

Just to drive that point...

"EverBank’s Clements said the naming rights deal has been a boon for the company.

He said the company has virtually doubled its asset base to $17.6 BILLION since making the first deal.

“We’ve seen enormous benefits to our company through our partnership with the Jaguars as we’ve grown our company and raised awareness of our brand,” Clements said."

THAT DEAR JAGWATER is an abusive lopsided relation and certainly NOT a marriage!

jagwater 07/27/14 - 07:08 am
Premium Member
Dear Mockingjay, you seem to

Dear Mockingjay, you seem to forget that under State Law, certain tax income MUST be spent on sport teams in Fl. Much of the money for these improvements is coming from the bed tax, which I am sure you don't pay into.

These improvements will ensure the Jaguars, Florida/Georgia and Gator Bowl remain in this city for years to come. I guess you are opposed to such events and long for the days when Jax was just a good-ole-boy town run by the good-ole-boys where the only thing to do was go to May-Cohen's.

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