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FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 7/25). Meanwhile, Jaguars Owner Shahid Khan said of the stadium's offseason upgrades, "It’s even better than I envisioned it. I think it’s going to raise the game day experience to a new level and it’s going to set the benchmark for what people should expect.” In Jacksonville, Ryan O'Halloran notes fans who "purchased tickets to the Jaguars’ Back to Football Luncheon on Thursday were given a tour of the cabana and pool areas after listening to remarks" from Khan, President Mark Lamping, GM Dave Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley. Khan said he stepped into the pools and “what blew me away was the view. It’s amazing.” The Jaguars have "sold 7,000 new season tickets, which ranks in the top six of the NFL," and now have "sold just under 45,000 season tickets." Jaguars Senior VP/Ticket Sales Chad Johnson: "We're having one of our best years." He added that the 20-person cabanas on the second level of the end zone improvements are "sold out for the entire regular season and only a few remain available for the two preseason games" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 7/25). Also in Jacksonville, Drew Dixon notes the team expects its July 28 practice in St. Johns County to "bring in a new fan base." All 2,500 "free reservations for the Monday night event were snatched up this week for the scheduled practice." This is the "first time the team has moved a practice outside of Jacksonville for a marketing purpose" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 7/25).
ALL HANDS ON DECK: Khan this morning appeared on CNBC's "Squawk Alley," and said the cabanas are a "quantum leap from the man cave and anything a football fan could imagine is here right now." He said the lower cabana deck by the pools is "about two-thirds sold out. We hope to sell that out here in the next couple of weeks." Khan added of eliminating around 9,500 seats, "We were just really over-capacitized for the market, and I think this brings us down to still about above average for NFL stadiums. We'll be at about 67,000 now" ("Squawk Alley," CNBC, 9/25).
NOT CUTTING TIES: Suspended Jaguars WR Justin Blackmon was arrested Wednesday for possession of marijuana, and the TIMES-UNION's O'Halloran notes Khan on Thursday "squashed any notion the Jaguars would cut Blackmon." He has been arrested twice since the Jaguars drafted him fifth overall in '12 and has "violated the league’s substance abuse policy multiple times and consistently shamed the franchise." Khan "disagreed with the thought the Jaguars would be alienating their fan base by remaining committed to Blackmon." Khan: “We want him to get help and really beat this. We knew he needed help" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 7/25).
A Toronto-based group fronted by singer Jon Bon Jovi that is looking to purchase the Bills insists that it "is not looking at potential new stadium sites in Southern Ontario and that its plans are to keep the team in Western New York," according to Tom Precious of the BUFFALO NEWS. Toronto-based Wessex Capital Partners co-Founder Andrew Bergmann, who is a stadium consultant for the group, said, "It’s the Buffalo Bills, and they will do everything they can to make that work there." Bergmann said that the group has "only examined various design ideas for a new stadium, and has not yet been performing any site-selection work." He added that he and "others involved with the group’s efforts will meet with two 'prominent' Buffalo-area developers Wednesday to discuss sites they have in mind for a new stadium." Bergmann said that talk of "any sites is premature but insisted that the group is looking to either build a new stadium in the Buffalo area or possibly renovate the current 41-year-old stadium and keep the team in Orchard Park." He added that the stadium configurations that the group has looked at "range from an open, 15-acre stadium to a 25-acre version if a retractable roof is incorporated" (BUFFALO NEWS, 7/25). The AP's John Wawrow cited a source as saying that the Toronto group has "conducted a feasibility study into buying the NFL franchise and building a stadium in Toronto." The source said that the study "identified at least three potential stadium sites -- two in Toronto, including one on the waterfront, and another in the suburb of Mississauga." Bergmann in an e-mail on Thursday confirmed that his company "has conducted stadium studies, 'but nothing related to any specific site'" (AP, 7/24).
The Broncos and Louisiana-based CenturyLink on Thursday announced the two sides have a signed a three-year sponsorship deal that "should significantly improve Internet connectivity and speeds for some fans at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on game days," according to Andy Vuong of the DENVER POST. The deal, which "starts with the upcoming season, calls for the telecommunications giant to install a new, 1 gigabit per second Internet circuit at Mile High." The network "will have a capacity of 10 Gbps, or more than five times the stadium's current bandwidth." The Broncos said that they "built the network for all four major wireless carriers," but last season, only Verizon Wireless subscribers "were able to tap into the network." Broncos VP/IT Russ Trainor: "I'm talking to Sprint currently, but they have not agreed to join the Wi-Fi system as of yet. AT&T and T-Mobile will not be offering Wi-Fi to their customers at the stadium this year" (DENVER POST, 7/25).
Ballpark Village, the mixed-use development adjacent to Busch Stadium, "isn't ready for the restaurant big leagues," according to Ian Froeb of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. Froeb, a restaurant critic, reviewed Cardinals Nation, giving the sports bar one and a half stars out of a possible four. The restaurant has "figured out exactly what it should be: a slightly upscale sports bar catering to the exact demographic that gives the restaurant its name." It is "easily the best restaurant at Ballpark Village" when it "hits its aim." Froeb: "If only the restaurant were as consistently successful as the team’s recent vintages have been." The service at Cardinals Nation -- "throughout Ballpark Village, really -- tends to be distracted and, sometimes, brusque." Froeb also reviewed the Budweiser Brew House, giving it only one star out of a possible four. While Cardinals Nation has "sharpened its focus" and continues to work out the kinks in the kitchen, Budweiser Brew House "still needs to undertake that first step." There are "kinks aplenty in the kitchen of this flawed restaurant, but a ruthless paring-down of the menu would go a long way toward smoothing them out" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 7/25).