Updated: Apr 25
On Thursday, April 20th, about forty Jax Chamber Trustees took an unforgettable tour of the place where Doug Pederson and Trevor Lawrence brought hope back to the Bold City, the TIAA Bank Field.
All over North Florida, people are talking about plans for a new stadium. The discussion involves seat numbers, renovation priorities, Florida heat and humidity, tax dollars, Shad Kahn, mayoral debates, tourism potential, job creation, and investing in a football team that has never been this poised for a winning season.
A Place for 67,814 Fans
Many Jacksonville residents feel anticipation and excitement at this opportunity for growth. These discussions of what is to come for the stadium and how it would effect the city extend into commerce, politics and our local economy.
But for this Thursday's event, Trustees didn't have to provide any answers, but instead bask in the history of our current stadium and witness the grandeur of what the TIAA Bank Field is today.
Starting the Jags Stadium Tour
For our guided tour, the Trustees were split into two groups. My group was lucky enough to get a photo on the field (the turf portion of the field, that is).
The afternoon included food and drinks in the Gallagher Club East. And let me say the buffet was absolutely delicious. Those meatballs and eggrolls were sensational.
Let's Talk Chalk
Part of the tour took us right to the field. I got to see in person that yellow side line where the grass meets the turf. I had no idea how similar the two looked or that they were flush together, blending right onto the field. I also learned that I wasn't allowed to walk on the grass. So I had to pose right beside it, and be ready to sprint if I accidently stepped over the line .
Beyond the Jumbotron
The 60 by 362 feet scoreboards are the biggest jumbotrons in the country. Up close the HD LED boards are immense. They did some testing while we were there and we learned a little about how the numbered boxes work.
We learned about the latest amenities and additions to the stadium. We learned how in the development of the stadium, the focus was on making something that was different. That's why the pool, the luxurious sky boxes, and even the size of the jumbotron, is different.
This took me back to the Jax Chamber initiative I pioneered back in 2002. There was a blackout for the Jags threatening the 2002/2003 season. To help combat this potential shut down, I wanted to do something different. I created the Jaguar Business Block, where 45 small business owners and members of the Chamber purchased season tickets. Fortunately, the 2002/2003 season commenced without a blackout.
Quarterbacks Coach Mike McCoy
Coach Mike McCoy presented in Gallagher Club East at the TIAA Bank Lounge (by the club seats). TECO Peoples Gas and the Jax Chamber sponsored this event.
McCoy talked about what it was like coaching the quarterbacks, and specifically Trevor Lawrence. We learned that Trevor Lawrence is a player that is not easily rattled. That quality helped him to press on even when an impending loss seemed inevitable. With the help of his team, Trevor was able to stay in the game and turn the tide.
As business owners, we took notes. With the pressure of payroll, inflation, a competitive market and other individual challenges, we too must press on.
With tour guide Ken Ray, we walked the circumference of the inside of the stadium. He gave us the inside scoop on the financing, history, and development of the stadium, and what it means to the city.
He covered Shad Kahn's role and his commitment to the stadium. He did not take us to the locker room, but I've been before. Some of us more long-term Trustees took a tour some years back, and that one did include the locker room.
What Most Nose-bleed Ticket Holders Already Know
Did you know large amount of nose-bleed ticket holders never even make it to their seats? They buy their tickets, then spend the game in the Bud Light Party Zone, where any level ticket holder can eat and drink. Any guest going to the game can also take a break from the grueling Florida heat in the shade of Daily's Place, and still be able to watch the game on the large screens there.
All in all, this afternoon exploring a Jacksonville landmark was a proud moment for the Chamber Trustees. The vibrant mural we saw on our tour was inspirational and truly says it all: