In football, it’s all about the bragging rights. The Jacksonville Jaguars may not have any Super Bowl wins under their belts just yet, but their stadium is certainly championship-worthy. The team has recently tossed over $63 million in upgrades to EverBank Field to build a dream setting for die-hard fans and sports-loving visitors.
In a world of in-home theaters, DVRs and HDTVs, teams all over the country are upping their game to lure fans back to the stadium. EverBank Field, already with impressive views of the city’s skyline and the St. Johns River, now boasts the largest video display of any stadium in the world—stretching longer than the field itself at 120 yards. The team now offers on-field, VIP seating, and in the north end zone, a two-story party deck, two swimming pools and 16 luxury cabanas. Hey, what’s a Florida vacation without a frozen daiquiri by the pool?
A party atmosphere is not new here. EverBank Field has long played host to the NCAA’s Florida v. Georgia game, dubbed the nation’s largest outdoor cocktail party. This season, college and NFL fans can access the new party deck or even rent a fashionable cabana, though it will cost around $12,500 for a party of 50.
Jacksonville’s answer to a man cave is a 7,000-square-foot fan cave open to any ticket holder. The space includes wi-fi, flat-screen TVs, tablets, video game consoles and power leather home-theater recliners with three bars and food stations nearby.
“The field seats are my favorite new feature in the stadium,” says Nikki Kimbelton, a Jags fan and broadcast journalist with local News 4. “Not only are you right there, feet away from every play, you actually walk on the field with a private escort to get to and from seats. I used to like watching the games at home because you miss a lot of the details when you're in the stands, but not anymore. The video boards are incredible. I can guarantee that when they roll some of the video and graphics on those screens during the game, you will get goose bumps.”
With all the enhancements, fans are more involved in the game than ever before, and the players are feeling the love.
“Fans are louder and more in-tune with the progression and momentum of the game,” says middle linebacker Paul “Poz” Posluszny who’s been on the roster for four seasons. “The crowd noise escalates on big third-downs and when the defense needs to make a big play. It’s been very easy to feel the excitement and intensity from our fans on game day.”
The organization’s president Mark Lamping who wears championship rings from both the St. Louis Cardinals and the New York Giants, knows the importance of a strong fan base and will do whatever it takes to keep the 12th man happy. “Our mandate is to offer an exceptional experience—that’s what fans deserve,” he says. “There are no scoreboards like ours in the world. There is no in-stadium destination like our Clevelander Deck in the world. The State Farm Fan Cave is a pioneering concept that connects directly with today’s NFL fan. We do all of this because we want to give fans every reason to attend Jaguars games and then over-deliver once they’re here.”
EverBank Field’s new video screen is made of 15,000 smaller video screens, and thanks to smart technology, the screen even shows up clearly in the bright, Florida sunshine. The massive screen allows fans to watch Jags replays and highlights from other NFL games. The field has also amped up its wi-fi so fans can live stream other games on their smart phones and keep up with their favorite teams and fantasy football picks from all over the NFL.
“The NFL is arguably the greatest sports league in the world—it’s certainly my opinion that it is,” says Lamping. “Only 31 cities in the world can enjoy the backdrop of the NFL in all facets of their lives, and the lift it gives all of us is undeniable. Jacksonville is punching above its weight among those 31 cities.”
Jacksonville is already known as a world-class destination for golf and water sports, and you can bet now it’ll be bragging about football, too.