June 17, 2018

Lamping: Energetic entertainment district key piece to Downtown puzzle

Jaguars president Mark Lamping is excited about the future of Downtown, and why shouldn’t he be? With a playoff-caliber football team and plans to develop an entertainment district at the stadium, the sky’s the limit.

Q: The Cordish Companies, your partner in the Lot J development, has an impressive record of sparking revitalization projects. Was that an easy choice?

A: What we were trying to do was find those kinds of developments around the country that have been successful, that were similar to the challenges we’d be facing. First, our development is going to be done in conjunction with a number of event spaces, primarily sports-themed, whether it’s (TIAA) Bank Field, the Baseball Grounds or the arena, plus the entertainment programming at Daily’s Place. We also wanted to try to locate those developments that were successful in the urban core. (Kansas City’s) Power & Light District certainly fits that to a “T,” as does the development in St. Louis to a slightly lesser extent, and likewise with the Inner Harbor in Baltimore. We felt comfortable with Cordish because they have created successful developments in areas where, perhaps, others have failed.

Q: It’s great to have Shad Khan backing something, yet you’ve made the point that it’s one thing to have the owner of the local team behind something, but at the same time, to have somebody like Cordish stand beside you really says, “Hey, we buy into this, too.” How much help does it have to have Cordish as a partner?

A: It makes us feel better. We gain a little bit of affirmation that our belief in Downtown Jacksonville goes beyond just our parochial interest.

Q: What has it meant to your organization to be able to share in the leadership of moving the city forward?

A: I think it all starts with our business challenge, which is to create a financially stable NFL franchise here in Jacksonville for years and years to come. When you understand that the path to that involves creating an environment where more people are visiting Downtown Jacksonville and more people are living in Downtown Jacksonville and more people are working in Downtown Jacksonville, it’s very satisfying when you’re working on a project that’s very difficult to begin with that you have 100 percent alignment with city government. So I think the thing that Shad feels best about is his ability to not only meet his goal of a financially stable NFL franchise here in Jacksonville, but to do it in a way that can also benefit the community in a huge way.

Q: Downtown Jacksonville is much farther along than downtown Kansas City was, and to see that come to life, how inspiring is it to know you’re planting a seed that’s got an awfully good chance of growing into something cool?

A: I hate using the same words, but what’s happened in the Power & Light District is transformational for that entire community, particularly knowing what was in those locations prior to the Sprint Center and the Power & Light District. The importance of H&R Block, their headquarters locating there, that was critical as well, which is why we’re focused on jobs here. For this to work, we have to have jobs, not just bars and restaurants. I went to college in Kansas City, so I’m familiar with that area during its really bad days, and it gives us great confidence for what can happen.

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