Mark Lamping is the president of the Jacksonville Jaguars and a resident of Ponte Vedra Beach.
Can you please tell us about your background?
I’m from St. Louis, born and raised there. I spent almost my entire life there. I worked for Anheuser-Busch when I got out of business school. I was fortunate enough to be named president of the St. Louis Cardinals. Anheuser-Busch owned the team at the time. That was back in 1994. In 2008, I left St. Louis and went to New York to head up a joint venture between the New York Jets and New York Giants that developed MetLife Stadium. I got that built and got it up and running, and then the opportunity came to join Shad Khan here in Jacksonville. I joined the Jaguars about a month after Shad purchased the team. I’m married and have three children. Two of our children have made their way to Jacksonville, and our oldest is still in St. Louis.
When you reflect on your career, do you have a favorite moment?
That’s hard. I think probably one of the greatest moments I had is getting a call from August Busch III, who was the chairman of Anheuser-Busch. I was 36 years old at the time, and he offered me the job as president of the St. Louis Cardinals. I was born and raised in St. Louis. I grew up a Cardinal fan. It’s still my favorite team. That was really, really significant. I think the opening of the new ballpark in St. Louis was another really important point as I look back over my career. Then later in that same year in 2006, the Cardinals won their 10th world championship so it was fun to be part of that. Similarly, the opening of MetLife Stadium was a wonderful milestone. Here in Jacksonville, I think our home playoff game last year against Buffalo. Not just the fact that it was a playoff game and not just the fact that we won. All the tarps were removed. We didn’t have any tarps on the seats. Jaguar fans filled the stadium to capacity. They got in the stands early. They cheered throughout the game, and they made a big impact. The reason I think that’s one of my highlights is, Jaguar fans really deserved that day. This has been a fanbase that has so loyally supported the team and in many respects, they’ve been unfairly criticized from outside the market. That was a great day. It was a day to show the entire country what Jacksonville really is, what the quality of the fanbase really is, versus what some outsiders have perceived.
What should fans of the Jaguars look forward to?
We are going to continue to evolve as an organization. Shad made the commitment early on that he’s going to do everything necessary to have a financially stable, consistently competitive, championship NFL franchise. Jacksonville has some really good things about it, and there are some things that we struggle a bit on when we compare ourselves to other NFL markets. In order to achieve that goal, we’re going to have to be creative. We can’t necessarily follow the playbook that other teams might pursue. Our efforts will include continued investment, development of making sure the fan experience is as good as it possibly can be, investing in related businesses to help support our overall revenue structure and at the end of day, being a real catalyst in terms of delivering a downtown Jacksonville that can reach much closer to its full potential.
What’s the future hold for the development of Jacksonville’s Shipyards?
The plans are very ambitious. Our goal is to create a vibrant neighborhood in and around the sports complex where we have people who would be working, people who are living, in addition to all of the people who currently visit, and do it in a way that it can become a significant catalyst for further development in downtown Jacksonville. Not only are we committed to the project, we are very, very optimistic that it will exceed everyone’s expectations.
What’s it like to be part of this culture shift with the Jaguars?
I’m very proud of the culture we have here at the Jaguars. It’s based on mutual respect and mutual trust. We try to hire the best employees. We have a very diverse organization. We believe in giving people opportunities. We believe in giving people the resources that are necessary to achieve their goals. We think we’re realistic in terms of what our expectations are and in return for that, our employees gladly accept accountability for results. I think we’re very unified as a group. We have our ups and downs just like any organization. We really encourage people to make decisions, to be committed to achieving our goal of a stable franchise and knowing that as an organization, we’re sensitive to their needs. We’re really sensitive to what the work environment is like. We want our employees to have a quality of life that is very positive. We insist on a good work-life balance from all our employees. We hope that our employees believe that we care deeply about them because we do.
What do you enjoy most about living in Ponte Vedra Beach?
We live at the Plantation, so both my wife and I love to golf. We’re very close to the beach, which we love. It’s a very easy community to arrive in and very quickly feel welcome. The majority of us who live in Ponte Vedra aren’t from the state of Florida. We’ve been fortunate enough and blessed to find our way to Ponte Vedra and call it our home. It’s a great environment. But more than anything else, it’s the quality of the people.