The Jaguars know their tarps are a punch-line.
And they want to get rid of them.
Figuring out the right way to do it has become a tougher problem to solve.
New owner Shad Khan’s goal is to get rid of them, saying: “To me, every day I look at the tarps, it is like underachieving, and I can’t wait to be able to do that [remove the tarps].”
Mark Lamping, the Jaguars president in charge of non-football operations, said an announcement’s coming in August about new features at EverBank Field. New video boards are coming, but maybe not until 2014.
But those tarps are still the first thing many see, and the biggest problem.
“We’re working on a number of ideas,” Lamping told Vito Stellino of the Florida Times-Union. “We’d like to get something done this year, but maybe we won’t be able to. It needs to be a done in a way to enhance the fan experience as opposed to an advertising panel. We haven’t come up with a solution, but we’re working very hard.”
The Jags have an apparent, but complicated problem. They like what the tarps do, cutting the capacity of their stadium from a too-big-for-the-market 76,000 to a closer-to-just-right 67,246.
If they were the only tenants, they could just blow out those seats, install some kind of amenity and proceed happily. Problem is, that leaves the stadium (at least) 10,000 seats short of what they need for the annual Georgia-Florida game and the Gator Bowl if that game gets a lucky draw, meaning they can’t make permanent alterations.
Trying to come up with a system of platforms that don’t block the views from other seats and can sustain anything from concession stands to plazas to palm trees is proving more expensive than they thought.
“Putting tarps over seats does nothing for the fan experience and is a blatant reminder that there are seats under them,” Lamping said.
It’s also a blatant reminder that the Jaguars are held hostage by one extremely popular college football game a year, which limits their ability to improve their own product.