The Jaguars plans to build a fan entertainment zone on the land now occupied by Lot J continues to move ahead.
“The goal is to have it enhance the game day experience,” Jaguars president Mark Lamping said, noting that the area will be available to enhance the experiences of attendees at all to events at all of the venues at the sports complex. “It’s one of the things that we’re missing in this part of downtown, a nice entertainment district. It’s the types of things that visitors like to experience and those things that folks like to do before and after events and that can grow beyond that.”
Like the construction of Daily’s Place next to the stadium that eliminated the need for a similar venue on the shipyards or Metropolitan Park, the entertainment zone could take some of the concepts envisioned in the Shipyards concept and launch them sooner than the Shipyards could be completed.
“It compliments what our original plans were,” Lamping said. “A lot of this come out of the conversations that we had with Amazon to consider Jacksonville for their second headquarters. If you are going to do something transformational for downtown Jacksonville, if you just focus on the riverfront, you are going to miss a huge opportunity.”
Impact on other businesses
How would the entertainment zone impact other businesses in the area? The Jacksonville Sports Tavern and Intuition Ale Works are both located on A. Phillip Randolph Street near the sports complex. Farther west on Bay Street, another local brewery, Bold City Brewery has a storefront, Bold City Downtown.
“Sounds like a good deal to me and hopefully they’ll carry Bold City as well as the other local beers at the venues envisioned,” Brian Miller, co-owner of Bold City Brewery said. “I don’t think it will affect the business at Bold City Downtown, but will hopefully bring more business by bringing more people downtown all together. Duval ’til we die, baby!”
Another business that could benefit from the move is Tailgater’s Parking, located just east of the stadium. Lot J is home to over 600 parking spaces and fans who attend events at the sports complex will have to park somewhere.
“We think it’s a great addition to the sports complex site,” said William Colledge, vice president of Tailgater’s Parking. “For us, our thinking parallels what the Jaguars and the mayor are thinking. We would love to see this area more active outside of the 15 or 20 days that it is currently. We have our eyes on development prospects in the future.”
In the meantime, Colledge said, Tailgater’s will continue to operate as a parking lot for Jaguars games, the annual Florida-Georgia game and other events in the sports complex. He has seen a number of local businessmen make substantial strides in transforming the area east of downtown into a more vibrant area.
“With the momentum of the removal of the elevated overpass, with the momentum of a public/private partnership in the Metro Park Area, we feel that people like the Grangers (who are developing the Doro District) and Khan, once the ball starts rolling down the hill, the interest in this area is going to be magnified exponentially,” Colledge said.