We’ve got the Jacksonville Jaguars tying the NFL to the First Coast, but another big league may not be far off.
Jacksonville’s Sports and Entertainment Director Alan Verlander has been in talks with the NBA about getting exhibition games in to the city.
“It’s gunna be hard work, but I think it’s very feasible,” he says.
Verlander told me the city is getting easier to sell to the professional leagues because of the events we’ve been hosting, like the USA Soccer match or the Navy-Marine Corps Classic. Basketball is a special interest because of the number of teams in the immediate region which could exhibition in Jacksonville- the Atlanta Hawks, the Orlando Magic and the Miami Heat.
“You’ve got a lot of NBA fans in Jacksonville that could go support one of those teams,” he says.
While he is in continuing talks specifically on this idea, he says that’s not the end of the road for sporting deals.
“We’re calling every professional organization, every sports agency around the country, and trying to get people interested in bringing sporting events to Jacksonville,” Verlander tells me.
He says there is a long term vision for the city that is his goal to achieve.
“Everything that we’re trying to do is to put heads in beds, to grow business, and to make Jacksonville kinda the ‘Sports Mecca’ of the nation,” he says.
He says sporting events like this help give Jacksonville a national stage, and if we continue to grow there it can be a driving force behind economic growth through tourism and investment for the city.