Jaguars host 15,000 Pokemon Go fans at EverBank Field

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- When the Jacksonville Jaguars decided to have a Pokemon Go event at EverBank Field on Monday night, they set a modest goal of having 10,000 people trying to catch characters throughout the stadium.

They blew past that number long before the two-hour window closed.

The team estimates that more than 15,000 people attended, which is well above the 9,651 who registered on the team's website, and has the team saying it created the largest Poke adventure in the United States.

"We actually knew it would be big, but we didn't know how big it was going to get to," said Steve Ziff, the Jaguars' vice president of marketing and digital media. "It's pretty amazing."

Two of those 15,000-plus people were Bryan and Kari Hall. Bryan Hall, an Army veteran, said he's obsessive about arriving at events early, which is why he and his wife arrived at 2:30 p.m. ET -- 3½ hours before the event began.

Naturally, they were the first two people in line, which at one point was so long it snaked to the edge of Lot J and back, then wound through several other parking lots and curled around the baseball stadium on the other side of the sports complex.

"I've been playing Pokemon since it came out," Bryan Hall, 30, said. "That was one of my first games my parents bought, and I still to this day own so many Pokemon games. I still play them.

"The chance to get a little badge from [the Jaguars for being one of the first 1,000 people in line], it ... felt like it was kind of awesome, the nostalgia from childhood."

Before the event began, Bryan Hall said he had captured 109 Pokemon characters and hoped to load up inside the stadium. Kari Hall has been playing the game for only a week but said she's already up to Level 12. She got started because she had never been to the Jaguars' stadium, and her husband convinced her that she needed to play to accompany him.

"Now I've actually started to get into it," she said.

The Halls were the first inside EverBank Field to begin a walking tour that took Pokemon hunters, called trainers, through the stadium and included the pools in the North end zone and the Sky Patio in the South end zone. There were two PokeStops -- which is where trainers can acquire items to help hunt the Pokemon -- and two Pokemon Gyms, which serve as battle locations for team-based matches.

And yes, there are teams. Three, to be exact: Team Valor, Team Mystic and Team Instinct. Trainers team up to battle opposing teams. There was a steady stream of trainers moving through the stadium during the two-hour event. There weren't any problems, though one trainer walked into a stadium directory sign while hunting. She seemed more concerned with her phone than her head.

There was some colorful and interesting language, though. Such as:

"Wesley, catch this darn thing."

"I'm trying to find a Growlithe."

"I really hate the outdoors."

The idea to have the event at EverBank Field came from Chris Burdett, the Jaguars' senior digital media manager, and Spenser Coop, the team's manager of market strategy, in conjunction with corporate partner Fan Duel.

The event was such a success that there already is talk of doing it again soon -- and hopefully getting Jaguars owner Shad Khan in on the hunt, too.

"We couldn't get him to play Pokemon but it might happen if we do it again," Burdett said. "We're going to see how this goes, and if it is very successful we might do this again in the next couple months because the game's going to keep updating and evolving so we might as well try to capture it again."

That would be fine with Mark McEwen and his 6-year-old son, Christopher, who bagged nine Pokemon, including Poliwhirl and Venusaur. Even though they had trouble parking -- some of the lots are unavailable because of construction to the stadium's club seat areas and lounges -- they waited only 20 minutes in line before they were inside the stadium.

It's a good bet that they'll be back if the Jaguars do it again.

"The kids wanted to come," Mark McEwen said. "We had a good time. It's a good way to get out of the house instead of being stuck in the house on a Monday. We got the whole family together and came out."