TIAA Bank Field – Jacksonville Jaguars
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Jaguars on the Prowl for More Wins
TIAA Bank Field has been the home of the Jacksonville Jaguars since their expansion season of 1995. When the stadium opened, the Jaguars were the first expansion team in sports history to play its’ first game in a brand new stadium. It was built on the site of the old Gator Bowl Stadium, and has continued in the former stadium’s role of hosting the University of Georgia-University of Florida game each season, as well as Jacksonville’s post season bowl game, now known as the TaxSlayer Bowl. In 1995 it hosted Super Bowl XXXIX. The stadium now holds 64,428.
Food and Beverage 3
TIAA Bank Field has an excellent selection of concessions with a wide variety of foods available to satisfy the fans taste. Many of these offerings reflect Jacksonville’s location as a coastal city and a Southern city. Among the specialized restaurants available are 95 Southern Fried, Bono’s Pit Bar- B-Q, Bubba Burger, Dicks Wings, Southside Burrito, the SeaBest Seafood Zone and the Grid Iron Grille.
The stadium also has more than 60 Stadium Classic concession areas, which serve the more common concession items. Their menus include BBQ sandwiches ($12), hot dogs ($6), Burritos ($12), chicken tenders ($8), pretzels ($7), nachos ($12), peanuts ($6), grits ($14) and popcorn ($6). Beverage selections include Coca Cola brand products ($6), water ($6) and the following brands of beer: Blue Moon, Bold City, Bud Light, Coors, Corona, Heineken, Michelob, Miller Light, O’Doul’s, Shock Top and Yengling. Brand beers sell for $8.00, while craft beers are $10.00.
The variety of offerings would warrant a higher score, but the prices are amongst the highest in the NFL.
The Jaguars were one of the most successful expansion teams in NFL history over their first 9 years under the leadership of Coach Tom Coughlin. They often challenged for the AFC South Division Title and made several playoff appearances. In more recent years, the team has not been as successful, and attendance has suffered. Two entire sections of the upper deck are now covered by a tarp. Part of the attendance problems are due to on field performance and partially it is due to Jacksonville being the second smallest market in the NFL. The team has made major changes in order to turn this trend around. Coach Coughlin has rejoined the team in an advisory role and a new head coach has been hired. Off the field, the team has focused on creating the best fan experience possible in the NFL.
These efforts include the Bud Light Party Zone, a 25,000 square foot sports bar open to all ticket holders, Fanduelville was added in the North end zone and includes the NFL’s only cabanas with a pool, special food offerings and a party zone. In 2016 the team added the U.S. Assure Club, which includes the NFL’s first 50 yard line viewing patios on both sides of the field. More than 75% of TIAA Bank Field’s seats are along the sidelines, providing excellent sight-lines anywhere in the stadium. Finally, overlooking all of this activity is the largest scoreboard/videoboard in the league, a whopper measuring 362 feet wide and 60 feet tall.
TIAA Bank Field is located across one of Jacksonville’s many bridges from the downtown area and also the Jacksonville Beach area. It is surrounded by Jacksonville’s other major sports facilities, the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville… home to the newly renamed Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, and the Jacksonville Veteran’s Memorial Arena, a multipurpose facility which hosts Jacksonville Dolphins basketball, Jacksonville Sharks arena football, Jacksonville Giants basketball and many major concerts. The site also includes the Jacksonville Fairgrounds. The newest addition to the area is Daily’s Place, a pregame entertainment area and 5,500 seat concert venue that is the first phase of a multi-million dollar entertainment district along the shores of the St. John’s River.
Once across the bridge, downtown Jacksonville offers a plethora of dining and lodging options, many of which are along the picturesque St. Johns River and the Jacksonville Landing entertainment complex Hotels located near Jacksonville Landing include the Hyatt Regency and the Omni Jacksonville. Popular restaurants in this area are the Jacksonville Sports Tavern, Benny’s Steak and Seafood and River City Brewing. TIAA Bank Field is only 2.5 miles from this district. Heading east from the stadium is Jacksonville Beach for those who would like to add a beach experience during their visit to the area.
Jaguar fans have responded very well to the team’s moves both on the field and off the field. The team has created a brand of “We Are Jaguars” to bind the team to its fans. Included in this branding is the unfurling of a three section wide banner with the motto before each ball game. Also unique to this effort is the Jaguar Prowl, where fans form a corridor the team enters through as it takes the field. The other fan favorite is the Fan Entertainment Zone, which opens 3 hours prior to kickoff outside the stadium.
Once the game starts, the fans take their cheering direction from the league’s Coolest Cat, Jaxson DeVille. He ziplines from the top of the stadium to the 50 yard line just before the kickoff to fire the fans up. He is assisted by the D-Line Drum Line and the ROAR dance and cheer squad.
Jaguar fans have some very unique cheers depending on the game situation. When the announcer says that’s another Jacksonville…. the fans respond with “First Down”. They also chant “Move those chains! after a successful first down attempt. Defensive situations bring out a cheer of “Lock Down the Bank!” which refers to the nearby St. Johns riverbank.
Getting to a Jaguars game can be difficult due the limited number of lanes on the bridges leading over to the stadium from either the downtown area or the beach area. There are numerous options open for fans to get to the games. Parking is available onsite in three major lots. Season ticket holders may utilize the lots nearest the stadium and possess season passes. A second option is to park in the parking deck located next door to the Jacksonville Veteran’s Memorial Arena at a cost of $25. The Jacksonville Fairgrounds offer their facilities for parking at a cost of $35 (pre order in advance) the stadium offers trams and golf cart shuttles for fans that are elderly or have mobility issues. More affluent fans may take advantage of a limited number of docks along the St. Johns River adjacent to the stadium to sail in for a game. The most cost effective and hassle free way to get to the game is via the Jacksonville Transportation Authority’s Gameday Xpress service. Busses pick up fans at multiple sites throughout the city for a cost of $7.00 roundtrip in the downtown area and $12.00 roundtrip from suburban areas.
Return On Investment 2
Tickets to Jaguars games are the 5th lowest in the NFL at an average cost of $64 . You can often pick up tickets below face value on the secondary ticket market. The generic concession stands provide and the stand alone restaurants tend to be very pricey. The average price of $25-30 for parking is rather high, but can be minimized by taking the Gameday Xpress. The rule of thumb as far as lodging is that properties along the river and near the beach are pricier. The further inland you go the price drops drastically.
Jacksonville can be hot and humid up through mid-season. To beat the heat, TIAA Bank Field has set up numerous Cool Zones for fan comfort. These areas provide water misters, cooling benches and refreshments to give fans some relief.
Jacksonville is a major military town, especially for the Navy. It is also home to a large number of Navy veterans. The Jaguars offer free or reduced price tickets to active service members and also salute a military hero at each game and often feature flyovers by naval jets or other aircraft.
TIAA Bank Field’s location allows you to be at the beach in the morning and in your seats at the stadium in time for the kickoff.
We were very pleasantly surprised by my TIAA Bank Field experience. Yes, wins are what put people in the stands. But a team that puts its fans first, offers excellent customer service and has plenty of unique and fun things to do in its stadium can still count on a very loyal fan base that will stick with them through thick and thin.
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