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SBD/March 22, 2013/Franchises
Jaguars Owner Shahid Khan Discusses First Year With Organization
Published March 22, 2013
Q: We’re in the offseason of your first year. How are you feeling about the Jaguars right now?
Khan: It was quite a liberating experience what happened last year. … If you are honest with yourself and the team and the fans, there’s only one thing to do when it’s 2-14. When it’s 8-8 you can be conflicted as to how much baby and how much bathwater there is, but here there was no baby -- it was just water.
Q: It sounds like the business side came naturally, but on the football side you put too much trust in the people who were already there.
Khan: If you have [the] best of everything, you wouldn’t need sales people. But (on the business side) we’re not selling victories. We’re not selling whether we have Tebow or don’t have Tebow. We’re selling a great experience and hopefully a victory. But on the football side it’s like being a doctor. The first thing is do no harm.
Q: Being much more involved this year, were you looking for different things in your new GM?
Khan: Yes, absolutely. I put a lot of time into it. On the football side getting the general manager was the most important thing. I talked to just about everybody, from wise old men of the NFL to some of the people who were still working who weren’t conflicted to a number of the owners who I respect. Getting their insight and permission to talk to their GMs to see who they would encourage me to talk to. … We want to have two people reporting to me: (team president) Mark Lamping from the business side and the GM from the football side. The coach is reporting to the GM, but -- practically -- working with him. They have to be on the same page and have the right personality, and frankly, they even have to be physically located next to each other.
Q: Was that not true with the previous combination?
Khan: No. They were on almost opposite ends of the stadium. That’s how the culture was. They also had a lot of closed doors. To me, you have to have glass doors to see who’s there, people walking in and out -- have visual command. We went through this in industry. More transparency where you could stand up, see where people were, have a cup of coffee, exchange ideas.
Q: Moving over to the business side, you obviously think it had a much better year than the football side.
Khan: There were three games that we took tarps off. A year ago we were 29th in ticket sales. We finished 20th in ticket sales. The London experience is turning out to be everything and more than I thought. The game is sold out, we got marketing rights in London, which is the first time that’s happened. Just as we speak, we’re hiring a dedicated sales and marketing representative for the Jaguars in London. The ticket revenue for a London team is about 44% higher, so playing that game is better. … Sponsorship-wise we’ve done well. … We expect to have record season ticket sales. … We’re moving forward now with getting the state to upgrade the stadium with a big scoreboard, the biggest in the business.
Q: What worked best in terms of reaching out to the fans?
Khan: The feedback we’ve gotten from fans is from changing over the sales organization. We added more people where every season ticket holder has a contact to call. We did a lot of cold-calling on businesses in Jacksonville and the greater Jacksonville area -- which, you may find amazing, had never been done before.
Q: You’re working on bringing in the new scoreboard. How important is updating the stadium itself?
Khan: I think it’s vital. It’s a publicly-owned stadium and there are a lot of events other than us. The stadium, the scoreboard is not the cutting edge state of the art and you need that. The city needs that to attract a BCS game, the Florida-Georgia game and a lot of other sports. … The high revenue teams are the ones that overall have success. … For us strategically, and for the future viability of the franchise, we have to get our revenue up, whether it’s from London, from raising ticket prices, better food -- you got to give people a reason to spend money and they think it’s a good value (FORBES.com, 3/20).