JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Jaguars general manager David Caldwell saw the construction crews working on the video boards above each end zone at EverBank Field when he arrived for work every day.
He also wandered out to the field during the day to check on the progress, and each time he headed back to his office thinking: “No way those things are getting done” in time for their scheduled public debut before a Carrie Underwood concert on July 26.
He was wrong.
The giant video boards, which measure 60 feet high by 362 feet long and have more than 21,700 square feet of digital canvas, have been finished for more than a week. After days of testing and programming, they were unveiled as planned on Saturday night with a colorful and stirring presentation.
Impressive pic.twitter.com/MDZGvcyw6i— Michael DiRocco (@ESPNdirocco) July 27, 2014
Carrie Underwood on the boards. pic.twitter.com/IDprKFz7P3— Michael DiRocco (@ESPNdirocco) July 27, 2014
"Frankly, it’s how I envisioned it, [but] even better," Jaguars owner Shad Khan said. "I think it’s going to raise the game-day experience to a new level. It’s going to set the benchmark on what people should expect when they go to an event."
The video boards are the centerpiece of a $63 million renovation, $20 million of which Khan financed, that includes cabana seating and two 25-feet-by-12-feet pools in the north end zone and additional premium seating options, including 180 field-level seats. Manufactured by Daktronics, they are the largest video boards in the world and were constructed to generate the kind of reaction that fullback Will Ta’ufo’ou had when he and the rest of the players and coaches received a sneak peek at the presentation earlier in the week.
"It was awesome," Ta’ufo’ou said. "It was unreal. It was HD and they had a great video of Jacksonville. I think the fans will be excited when they get to see it."
Even though he saw them being constructed, Caldwell admitted to being wowed by the video boards as well as the other stadium improvements.
"They’re special," he said. "It’s not just the scoreboards but all the other ribbons around, video boards, the video boards in the tunnels, that whole deck with the cabanas. I’m trying to figure out how I can go watch a game there."
He was even more impressed when he and head coach Gus Bradley and public relations director Ryan Robinson recently saw some slides that showed the stadium during the 2013 season.
"It’s a brand new stadium," he said. "If you ever did a compare-and-contrast, it’s like high school to Disney World."