118 6 1 LINKEDIN 1 COMMENTMORE

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --The Jacksonville Jaguars $63 million renovation is only a small slice of the billion dollar pie the National Football League is using to put fans back in their seats.

Nine NFL teams are spending over $1 billion this off-season to improve the fan experience in stadiums. The Jacksonville Jaguars spent $43 million of taxpayer money to add new scoreboards and pool side cabanas.

"If you have a stadium that's worth more money, then the value of your franchise goes up," says University of North Florida Sports Management professor, Dr. Kristi Sweeney.

The over a billion dollars being spent will go towards improving Wi-Fi, new scoreboards and new concessions stands around the league.

Teams improving their stadiums:

Carolina Panthers - $65 million

Cleveland Browns - $120 million

Green Bay Packers - $166 million

Miami Dolphins - $350 million

Philadelphia Eagles - $125 million

Pittsburgh Steelers - $38 million

Tampa Bay Buccaneers - $7 million

"We live in a time were we have to overstimulate everyone. The fan experience has to have Wi-Fi at tailgates and that fan experience before they even go inside the stadium," says Sweeney. "Once they get inside they have to have access to every score update and TVs everywhere."

The Jaguars are hoping the taxpayer money will be money well spent. The Jaguars have removed 9,500 seats in the north end zone and constructed a 42,000 square-foot party deck with two pools and 16 cabanas. The stadium will feature 55,000 square feet of video boards, including two new primary scoreboards that measure 60 by 362 feet along with six other video boards.

"Professional franchises especially the N.F.L really do a good job holding the cities hostage like build us a new stadium or renovate a stadium or we'll leave," says Sweeney. "There is always this lingering stadium in L.A and who is going to go there."

Cities fear they might lose the professional sports organizations if the demands for renovations are not met, says Sweeney. Taxpayer money isn't worth the cost, Sweeney says, because of the lack of uses for a stadium. She says AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, is a good model of a taxpayer funded stadium because the facility has multiple uses such as hosting college football games, basketball games and other events.

"I think if you go back and review when I was introduced here I said I was going to everything I can to make football work and that's what we are doing," said Shahid Khan during the Everbank Stadium naming rights extension press conference.

Still, Jaguars fans are excited for the pools, new scoreboards and the 2014 season.

"It makes this place the must be place on Sundays. No ifs, ands, or buts about it," says Wale Olaogun. He has had season tickets since 2013. Olagun says there is nothing quite like a Jaguar's gameday.

"Next thing you know it is kickoff and football is on the field. Watching it live you can't beat that," Olaogun says.

The renovations are expected to be unveiled Saturday night. Sweeney knows one way to improve the fan experience.

"The best fan experience is winning."

118 6 1 LINKEDIN 1 COMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://www.firstcoastnews.com/story/sports/2014/07/25/nfl-stadium-upgrades-jaguars/13195677/