With more than 20 years as an executive in professional sports, Lamping has won both a Super Bowl ring and a World Series Championship ring and was instrumental in the new renovations of Jacksonville’s stadium. He took a few minutes from his busy football season to answer some of our questions about the new amenities at EverBank Field, the trending craft-beer scene and his thoughts on the city.
What does having an NFL team mean for the city of Jacksonville?
The NFL is arguably the greatest sports league in the world. It’s certainly my opinion that it is. 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 and it’s fair to say our national and global profile wouldn’t be a shadow of what it is today had the NFL not selected Jacksonville as an expansion franchise in 1993.
Tell us about the new renovations at EverBank Field.
We may overuse the term “transformational” at times, but there really is no other way to describe it. 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 offer creative seating and hospitality options on the field and in the stands. We do all of this because we want to give fans every reason to attend Jaguars games and then overdeliver on the proposition once they’re here. Approaching it any other way is not an option.
How does the stadium enhance a fan’s experience and the city as a whole?
The stadium shouldn’t enhance a fan’s experience as much as it should literally become part of the experience. A good fan experience in EverBank Field shouldn’t merely be a bonus to watching the Jaguars play. A good fan experience has to be a given, something fans are guaranteed and should expect. Of course, our mandate is to offer an exceptional experience. That’s what fans deserve and will put Jacksonville on the map for events above and beyond the NFL.
Coming from St. Louis which is big on beer, what do you think of the new emerging draft beer culture in Jacksonville?
Anheuser-Busch has been central to my life and career, first with sports marketing at A-B and then later as the president of the St. Louis Cardinals, who were owned at the time by A-B. You might think A-B would be annoyed or feel threatened by the growing craft brewing movement, but our position then was if craft or micro brews generated more discussion or interest in beer, that’s good for everyone. That’s kind of where I am here in Jacksonville, where A-B is a major employer and is a significant sponsor of the Jaguars. I am a Budweiser and Bud Light loyalist but you can’t help but admire and be interested in what the craft brewers are doing here in Jax.
You’ve received a Super Bowl ring and a World Series Championship ring and have celebrated many career successes. What would you say is your greatest accomplishment?
There is no one event or accomplishment that I can point to and say it was the best. I view my career in a macro sense. In St. Louis, New York and now Jacksonville, I’ve been surrounded by brilliant people and have worked for the best companies and owners I could ever imagine. There have been no sour experiences. I don’t know if that is an achievement or good fortune, but just knowing you’re part of something special every day you come to work is my career highlight.
What do you like about living in Florida compared to New York and Missouri?
Living and working in New York speaks for itself. It’s exciting and fast-paced but it can be stressful and chaotic as well. I did enjoy my time there, though. Jacksonville is very similar to St. Louis in many respects. The traffic is manageable, the quality of life is outstanding for the size of the market and, of course, the people are great. And people in St. Louis and Jacksonville are proud and very loyal to their hometowns, which is a characteristic that I admire. The obvious difference is the weather. I miss the fall in St. Louis. The weather from September through November is spectacular and the Cardinals are often in postseason play, which just adds to the season. But here in Jacksonville, it’s nearly perfect from December through the spring. Summer, though, is the same story in both cities, so I came here prepared.