The Jaguars conducted a media hard hat tour Tuesday to show the progress in the $63 million in construction upgrades at EverBank Field, including the two largest video boards in the world in each end zone, two pools in the north end zone and cabana seating.
They will have 20 cabanas, eight spa cabanas seating 50 each with access to two pools and 16 party cabanas seating 20 each on a higher level without access to the pools.
The spa cabanas cost $250 per seat, and the party cabanas $150 each. Both include food and drink.
Because the Jaguars couldn’t sell 25 percent of their club seats last year, it might seem a challenge to sell the cabana seats.
But Chad Johnson, the team’s senior vice president of sales, said that 65 percent of the cabana seats have been sold, even though they can only show the fans artist renderings of them. He predicted they will sell all of them this year.
During the tour, the media members could see the pools, but the area where the cabanas will be is still a construction zone.
Johnson said he thinks the cabana seats are so popular because there is nothing else like them in the NFL and businesses like to buy them for customers and employees.
“It gives them something unique,” Johnson said. “Nowhere can you do what we’re offering here. And everyone wants to be first [to experience it].”
The pools will have an acrylic front so fans in other areas of the stadium can look into them. They are 15 feet by 12 feet and 3 1/2 feet deep.
The real test will come next year, when the Jaguars will find out how many of the cabana buyers will renew.
That will be an important source of local revenue for a small-market team that is near the bottom of the league in local revenue and has the lowest ticket prices in the league.
The Jaguars haven’t sold 67,000 seats in the stadium since 2007. when they played Indianapolis after getting off to a 4-1 start.
The Jaguars had a capacity of 67,245 last year and figure to have a similar capacity this year, although they don’t have an exact number yet for this fall. They took out several thousand seats to construct the new seats and also cut the tarps down to two sections in each corner of the west side of the stadium. There will be no tarps on the east side, so the tarps will no longer be seen on TV.
Last year, the Jaguars failed to reach the 61,000 figure for any home games, but they figure to top that this year because they have Pittsburgh and the New York Giants on their schedule. Both tend to bring a lot of fans.
The Jaguars avoided TV blackouts in recent years because owner Shad Khan wrote checks to the league for 34 percent of the value of the unsold non-premium seats.
Team president Mark Lamping said the new products will enable the team to increase its local revenue without raising ticket prices across the board. And that will give the fans a “compelling reason” to leave their living rooms and go to the stadium.
A 50-seat cabana that includes food and drink will bring in $12,500 a game at $250 a ticket or $100,000 a game for all eight. The 12 party cabanas will bring in $3,000 a game at $150 for 20 people.
The Jaguars are installing 38 four-person table areas in the club seats — 18 on the west side of the stadium and 20 on the east side. The west-side areas cost $375 and the east-side areas $350.
The Jaguars also have 180 field-level seats at $350 and bar-rail seats at $150.
Lamping said the project will definitely be completed by July 26, when the changes will be unveiled after a friendly match played by Kahn’s Fulham soccer team and before a Carrie Underwood concert.
Lamping said the lights on the new scoreboards will have to be turned on for 24 to 48 hours a few days before the official unveiling and will likely light up downtown.
Although all attention has been focused on the big video boards, the Jaguars are also building a 10-foot video board in the north end zone that is likely to feature out-of-town scores.
Johnson said the team, which had a season-ticket base of 44,000 last year, hopes to increase it to 50,000 or higher. The Jaguars managed to sell around 15,000 extra tickets a game with the help of various promotions, including group sales and single-game sales.
Johnson said the team had a renewal rate of 75 percent of the season tickets at the original deadline, an increase of 10 percent from last year. They hope to get to an 86 percent renewal rate by the start of the season. They’ve sold 5,500 new season tickets this year. The original deadline has passed, but the Jaguars continue to try to entice season-ticket holders to renew.
Lamping said the Jaguars are ahead of last year’s pace, but they are “nowhere near where we want to end up.”
Lamping said that if no developer emerges to develop the Shipyards, the Jaguars might step up and develop it as a sort of football theme park. He called the Shipyards property the stadium’s front door and indicated the Jaguars will be ready to move forward sooner rather than later.
Lamping also said that any program designed to attract fans has to include winning — the team has won six games in Khan’s two years as an owner — and noted the progress the team has made in the offseason in free agency and the draft.