JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The tarps are going away.
For the first season since 2005, the Jaguars will not have tarps over sections of seating at EverBank Field, the team announced Monday. Tarps in the west upper deck will be removed, allowing the team to sell an additional 3,501 seats.
“Getting rid of the tarps has been our goal since Shad Khan purchased the team in 2012," said Mark Lamping, Jaguars president. "Given the strength of our home schedule and the enthusiasm from the community, we will move forward without the tarps in 2018. Season tickets in these newly opened areas will be priced at $45 per game."
The announcement goes along with the season ticket campaign that started Monday. Prices for 2018 season tickets have increased just over 11 percent. Lamping said that the Jaguars have received 5,000 deposits for season tickets, up from 700 at the same time last year.
The Jaguars removed the tarps for their first home playoff game in 18 years in January, when the team sold out the stadium with an announced attendance of 69,442. The Jaguars beat the Bills 10-3. During the 2017 regular season, the stadium operated at a capacity of 64,431 for Jaguars games. The additional seats will bring the capacity to 67,932.
When Khan bought the team, there were over 9,000 seats tarped. Through some construction improvements, like the scoreboards and club section renovations, the Jaguars have reduced the stadium size to something closer to the NFL average of about 69,000.
The Jaguars also confirmed Monday that the team will wear new uniforms and helmets for the upcoming 2018 season. The final design will be unveiled later this spring, likely at the State of the Franchise address, which will occur in April. The color teal, which had been relegated to a secondary color under Khan, should make a return to prominence in the regular jersey in 2018.
"There will be no change in our color palette. It's the same as it's always been with teal and white and black and gold," Lamping said. "One thing I've noticed is that even though teal became more of an accent color for us, that didn't change what the fans were wearing. I think it's something they take great pride in, and our players wore teal for some very, very important games last year and I think they saw the response from the fans. Teal will continue to be a part of our uniforms going forward."
Lamping also said that the Jaguars' success on the field has changed some of the tenor and tone of the conversations he has with business leaders and politicians around town.
"I think everybody is really happy for us," Lamping said. "We went about it as an organization the right way, first under (general manager) Dave Caldwell's leadership, then under (Executive Vice President for Football Pperations) Tom (Coughlin) and (head coach) Doug (Marrone) and Dave (Caldwell). They built the team the right way. As we look at next year, we look at something that is sustainable. That's nothing different than what we have done off the field."
The Jaguars plans to build out a fan entertainment zone on the land now occupied by Lot J continues to move ahead.
"The goal is to have it enhance the game-day experience," Lamping said, noting that the area will be available to enhance the experiences of attendees to events at all of the venues at the sports complex. "It's one of the things that we're missing in this part of downtown, a nice entertainment district. It's the types of things that visitors like to experience and those things that folks like to do before and after events and that can grow beyond that."
Like the construction of Daily's Place next to the stadium that eliminated the need for a similar venue on the shipyards or Metropolitan Park, the entertainment zone could take some of the concepts envisioned in the Shipyards concept and launch them sooner than the Shipyards could be completed.
"It compliments what our original plans were," Lamping said. "A lot of this come out of the conversations that we had with Amazon to consider Jacksonville for their second headquarters. If you are going to do something transformational for downtown Jacksonville, if you just focus on the riverfront, you are going to miss a huge opportunity."