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Jaguars 'Khan-struction' has more on horizon, with hopes of increasing local revenue

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - All the upgrades at EverBank Field have been dubbed "Khan-struction," and they're nowhere near complete.

While delivering a somewhat sombre state-of-the-franchise presentation Tuesday that outlined the small-market team's problems and pitfalls, team president Mark Lamping also unveiled several potential improvements to EverBank Field — commitments that could lead to increased local revenue.

"You've got to focus on a few that you can turn into a reality," billionaire owner Shad Khan said.

Lamping released a rendering of renovated club seats that would decrease capacity while increasing comfort and luxury. The project would cost at least $15 million. He floated the idea of an indoor practice facility, which could be built as part of a nearby shipyards project. He also showed a drawing of a retractable roof at EverBank, but said that it's a discussion topic right now and not part of any short- or long-range plans.

"The most important thing we can do is put a better product on the field," Lamping said.

Indeed, the Jaguars have won six games the last two years and haven't finished above .500 since 2007. As a result, they rank near the bottom of the league in local revenue and television ratings.

General manager Dave Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley have been charged with getting things turned around on the field. Lamping might have the tougher task of getting things turned around in the stands.

While contrasting the size of the stadium with Jacksonville's population, Lamping said the franchise has "unique challenges" to address.

"This is our problem to fix," Lamping said. "We have to fix it to have a sustainable team."

Khan is doing his part. He already has committed $31 million, including $20 million to help pay for $63 million scoreboards the Jaguars call the largest in the world. They are being installed this month and will be unveiled later this summer. Khan also paid to revamp the locker room and the training room.

"We don't want to be delusional," Khan said. "I think we're doing better than we were a couple of years ago, but there's a lot of work to be done. We've got to understand where the opportunities are and where the challenges are."

There are signs the Jaguars are headed in the right direction.

Local revenue is up 8 per cent and projected to continue to improve in 2014.

The big reason for the boost is London, and the Jaguars are trying to expand their presence overseas. Jacksonville, generally considered the least popular team in the NFL, agreed to play one game annually for four years in London, beginning last season.

In one year playing overseas, Lamping said Jacksonville moved from 31st to ninth in popularity in the United Kingdom.

While ticket sales accounted for 63 per cent of the team's local revenue in 2012, that figure dropped to 48 per cent in 2013 — mostly because of new, overseas revenue streams.

So it's likely the Jaguars will try to maintain a presence in London and play games there beyond 2016.

"We have been surprised with the impact," said Khan, who said bought the Jaguars from majority owner Wayne Weaver in November 2011 for $770 million. "But there's nothing like that. We're just moving right along and taking full advantage of the opportunity that's been given to us."



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