By: James Johnson (J_1010xl)
Since Shad Khan stepped into the front office of Everbank Field, he's made it clear that he wants the organization to be one of the best in the NFL and has shown his willingness to do something about it. The organization invested $3 million in a new state-of-the-art locker room and unveiled it's plans for a $7.5 million dollar upgrade to the stadium (including a recently added sound system, wireless internet connection and a new video board). It was also revealed that the organization would be building a new practice facility which could possibly be in the structure of a bubble. Team President Mark Lamping made the statement that the cost for a facility would likely fall under the responsibility of the team and would likely be over $10 million, which brings me to my next point.
I recently read an article on the Redskins, who have plans to build a new $10 million dollar summer facility in nearby Richmond, Virginia away from the team's actual headquarters in Ashburn, Virginia. They struck a deal with the city of Richmond and a local health company, Bon Secours Richmond Health System (BSRHS), in which the company will invest $6.4 million (over a ten year period) towards the construction of the Redskins new $10 million, 17-acre facility. It will include a field-house, two practice fields, a practice drill field and other amenities for the team and the team's media. Additionally, Bon Secours has agreed to build a 75,000-square-foot medical building and a couple of wellness/fitness centers around the city as part of the company's expansion. The move is expected to have a positive economic impact as it will provide new jobs within the city and millions in payroll. It's a deal that helps both the Redskins and the city of Richmond. The team would also generate buzz as the people of Richmond, who are mainly Redskins fans, would come to watch their favorite team practice. Also, the practice fields would be built adjacent to a public park and kid-zone which would provide a family friendly atmosphere for fans and children to enjoy as well as witness the team practice.
So my question is this: for the $10 million plus that Lamping stated it would take to build an indoor facility or bubble, why not just spend that on a new practice facility like the one BSRHS is partnering up with the Redskins to make for the same price? It make financial sense. Keep in mind BSRHS is providing them with most of the money ($6.4 million) to pay for the facility as they would use the facility as a wellness and health center when the Redskins aren't occupying it every summer. If the Jags could find a partner as well, like Florida Blue, for example, who sponsors their current practice facility, it would help with the cost of the facility, even if they agree to take a smaller fraction of the cost. If not Florida Blue, maybe Shands, or Baptist Healthcare, all of which are companies that are trying to expand healthcare among the community. Just like BSRHS, any of Jacksonville's health companies could use the facility when the Jags aren't during the summer. It's a trend many other NFL teams like the Jets and Steelers have practiced since their facilities are sponsored by healthcare companies.
The next question would then be where to put the facility as the Jaguars expressed that they wouldn't build the indoor facility off-site. Once again, financially it'll pay off to have a summer training camp off-site to market the team statewide. For example, summer training camp can be held in nearby St.Augustine and reach out to their market in the process, or even Daytona. Yeah, sure--this is a bad team and it might be hard to get companies to invest in them, but so were the Redskins, as they were picking in the top of the draft order as the Jags were last year. The Washington area, however, has managed to support them anyway and look where they are now! I've always acknowledged Shad Khan as the business mind he is and I feel this is a trend he should definitely look into to get this team rolling in the right direction--financially and on the field.
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