(Getty Images)

EverBank Field

The Jacksonville Jaguars play their home games at their stadium known as EverBank Field. It opened in 1995 on the site of the areas previous stadium which was known as the Gator Bowl Stadium. This original stadium got its name as it was the venue for the annually played college bowl game called the ‘Gator Bowl’, which has been played every year since 1946.

When the old stadium was demolished to make room for a more modern facility, it was only fitting that the new stadium should carry on the tradition of hosting the bowl game and as such, EverBank Field does so every year.

Gator Bowl Stadium

The new stadium actually incorporates a small part its predecessor within its structure. They aren’t major parts – the pedestrian ramp and west upper deck areas – and only date back to the 1982 structure rather than all the way back to the 1927 original construction or its 1948 expansion.

Large Events

Another of the larger events held at the stadium, other than the Gator Bowl, is the annual University of Florida vs University of Georgia football game. This event is a huge local rivalry game for the area and brings in tens of millions of dollars and so is needed by the state’s communities. When the game’s contract was coming to an end whilst it was being played at the Gator Bowl Stadium, both universities expressed concerns over the state of the venue and made it known that they thought it needed improving. The rival Citrus Bowl venue moved in with and offered the two universities large amounts of money to move the annual game to their stadium. This was the spark needed to start the funding and upgrading process of the Gator Bowl Stadium.

This all coincided with the NFL looking to expand its league by a further two teams and Jacksonville was a city that wanted one. Once the funding had been secured, the demolition of the old stadium and the building of the new one started in 1994 in an attempt to be ready for its new potential occupants, the Jacksonville Jaguars, to move in during 1995.

The new and improved stadium cost around $190 million to build which, looking at the insane amounts it costs to build a stadium now, is relatively cheap. It has a regular season capacity of 67,246 but this figure is a deliberately reduced number by the team due to NFL rules about gameday crowd/stadium capacity numbers relating to local TV airings. I wrote a little about this in my article entitled, “Jacksonville Jaguars’ History and Rivalries“. This capacity can be expanded to 82,000 for the larger events held there. It did host Super Bowl XXXIX (39) in 2005 when it packed in 78,125 spectators to see the New England Patriots beat the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21.

EverBank Field Capacity

Getting back to the reducing of the large capacity of the stadium – the full capacity has actually proven to be a problem for the Jaguars in the past as they’ve suffered dwindling crowd numbers since their successful playoff run days ended. The NFL has a ‘Blackout Policy’ in place that states a team can only televise its games within its local market if they sell a certain percentage of game tickets by a certain cutoff time before the game is played. If that percentage is not reached, then no local airing is allowed and this can be financially devastating for a franchise due to missed advertising revenue etc. This policy is in place in an attempt to encourage fans to attend the games instead of everyone just sitting at home watching it on TV.

The Jaguars’ attendance figures slumped during the early 2000’s which meant many games were blacked out during that period of time. These blackouts happened even though the organisation took the measure of covering 9,703 seats with tarps to reduce the stadium’s capacity meaning they wouldn’t have to sell as many tickets in order to qualify for local TV coverage. This, in my opinion, is why they were so keen to sign up to a long-term deal that would see the team play in the NFL London series up to and including the 2020 NFL season. It made financial sense as well as, in my opinion, worrying the local area of Jacksonville into thinking they were about to lose their team. As a result of the team’s actions, and the more dedicated fanbase initialising their own drives to get other fans to the games, the attendances rose again.

In contrast to the problems the Jaguars have had in filling the stadium with fans, the annual Florida – Georgia college football game and the annual Gator Bowl football game require the tarps to be removed from the 9,703 seats as well as extra temporary stands to be added. These annual games sell out to the tune of 84,000+ fans pretty much every time they are played. College football used to be the top of the game back in the day and still has a massive following today. Many of the big schools regularly sell more tickets than NFL teams do and is one of the reasons they are able to entice top head coaches away from the professional game.

Stadium Improvements

Due to the resurgent crowd numbers, it was decided and approved in 2013 that another $63 million would be spent on more stadium improvements. The most notable of which were the two water pools that can be used to watch the game from as well as the two massive 362-foot-long scoreboards at either end of the stadium. These are some of the largest stadium screens on the planet. Another world record for stadiums that the EverBank Stadium can boast about is the 55,000 square feet of HD video screens that are in and around the stadium.

A few years after these improvements, in 2016, another improvements schedule was announced. This time, $90 million would be spent on the stadium with the early phases being completed before the 2017 NFL season. These proposals are to help improve the area around the stadium as well as just the stadium itself.

I guess the Jacksonville Jaguars are happy to commit to the area and stay in Jacksonville for quite some time yet, and not be the team that becomes the London team (if any team ever does become a London franchise) seeing as they’re pumping all this money into their current home – much of it is financed by local government but the team also puts in large amounts of its own money.

Jacksonville Jaguars Logo and Uniform

The logo that the team uses today is not the one they originally intended to use. The original logo was off a leaping jaguar but the Jaguar car company didn’t like this idea as they thought it too closely resembled their own logo. No lawsuit or legal action of any kind was taken as a deal was done that would see the team’s logo changed and the car company becoming the official car company of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The original colour of the helmet was also going to be silver rather than what we see today or previous to today’s design. After the complication with the Jaguar car company, the logo and uniform went through a redesign process.

Jacksonville Jaguars' Original logo and helmet design

The new logo would be a Jaguar’s head which, for some reason, had a teal coloured tongue. This is something that I’ve always wondered about and apparently, it was the idea of Wayne Weaver’s (he was the original majority owner of the team) wife as well as being a result of “Feeding Panthers to Jaguars”  – a bit of a dig at fellow expansion team the Carolina Panthers who entered the league in the same year. The colour of the helmet and uniform also changed from silver to a really dark metallic green that looked black unless in certain light at this stage.

Jacksonville Jaguars helmet - Image Credit: Rob Foldy USA TODAY Sports

Shahid Khan became the team’s owner in 2011 and decided to rebrand in 2013. This is when the logo and uniform we see today was introduced. Today the team wear black jerseys with teal sleeves for their home games and a white jersey with black sleeves for their away games. Their alternate uniform jersey is a teal main body and has black sleeves. All of these jerseys are used with a combination of black or white pants, depending on their opposition.

Jacksonville Jaguars Uniforms

In 2015 they introduced an all gold ‘Color Rush’ uniform that had black sleeves and trim on the pants. This, in my opinion, suits their black and blended gold helmets the best. When I first saw it in a Thursday night game against the Tennessee Titans I remember thinking, “Suddenly that black and gold helmet makes perfect sense!”.