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Jacksonville NFL football team hopes to win fans with new swimming pools

By Barbara Liston

ORLANDO Fla. (Reuters) - The Jacksonville Jaguars football team is installing swimming pools and cabana-style seating at its downtown stadium in an effort to attract more fans to the franchise's games, the team said in a statement.

The poolside seating, which the team says is the first in any NFL stadium, is meant to create a smaller number of high-end tickets by replacing seats that might otherwise have gone unsold at EverBank Field.

The Jaguars had a combined record of six wins and 26 losses over the past two seasons, and were one of five teams in the 32-team league to average fewer than 60,000 fans per home game last year, according to data compiled by ESPN.

At least two Major League Baseball teams - the Miami Marlins and the Arizona Diamondbacks - have fan-accessible swimming pools at their ballparks.

Two wading pools overlooking the Jaguars' home field will be available at games starting this fall allowing up to 200 fans to purchase $250 tickets to the special section.

The hip-deep, 180-square-foot pools are designed with glass fronts facing the field but are opaque on the sides for privacy from fans in other seating, the Florida Times-Union newspaper reported.

The new seating is part of a $63 million upgrade to the stadium that will include what the team says is the largest video board in the world. At 362 feet long, the screen will be two feet longer than the field itself.

Despite the lowest ticket prices in the NFL, Jaguars owner Shahid Kahn had to pay the league a percentage of the value of unsold seats to avoid TV blackouts last year, according to the Times-Union.

(Reporting by Barbara Liston, editing by Colleen Jenkins and Jonathan Kaminsky; Editing by Diane Craft)

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