Jaguars historic ‘Stadium of the Future’ deal



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Jacksonville Jaguars stadium update May 2024 Image: City of Jacksonville

The National Football League (NFL) team Jacksonville Jaguars and the City of Jacksonville (Florida, US) have agreed to a $1.4 billion deal to push ahead with their ‘Stadium of the Future’ plan, the City announced recently.

‘CNN’ stated that the above agreement will see each side contribute $625 million to the project, which will see the Jaguars current home – the EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida (US) – undergo wholesale renovations, per the City. The City will then spend another $150 million to get the stadium ready for construction in 2026.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are a professional American football team based in Jacksonville, Florida (US). The Jaguars compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the American Football Conference South Division. The team plays its home games at the EverBank Stadium.

The 67,838-capacity EverBank Stadium is an American football stadium located in Jacksonville, Florida (US) that primarily serves as the home facility of the Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League (NFL).

Jacksonville Jaguars stadium update May 2024Image: City of Jacksonville

The Jacksonville Jaguars ‘Stadium of the Future’ plan is a project nearly three years in the making to transform downtown Jacksonville and secure NFL Football in Northeast Florida well into the future.

New York (US)-based the National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football league that consists of 32 teams, divided equally between the American Football Conference and the National Football Conference.

‘CNN’ further stated that the proposal, announced last year, still has to go through two key stages before it is officially given the go-ahead. Firstly, the City Council members will vote on the project in June, with a majority of 19 members needed for it to pass.

If that goes through, it would then be voted on at the annual NFL Owners’ meeting in October, where 24 of the 32 owners would need to give the proposal the green light.

Donna Deegan, Jacksonville Mayor, posted on X, formerly Twitter, “It’s with great pride and excitement that we present this historic deal. It’s a crucial step in the development of a thriving downtown which generates the commercial revenue that will fund so much of what we want to do in neighborhoods across the City. Jacksonville has the privilege of being an NFL town and this deal will ensure our citizens can enjoy the benefits of that privilege for decades to come.”

Jacksonville Jaguars stadium update May 2024Image: City of Jacksonville

The proposal would keep the Jaguars in Jacksonville for another 30 years and would come with a non-relocation agreement.

Construction would begin after the 2025 season, with the Jaguars playing in front of a reduced capacity in 2026, per the City. The team’s home games would then take place away from Jacksonville the following season while the stadium is being renovated.

The Jaguars say that their plans “call for a reimagined stadium with an environmentally-friendly and cost-effective structure that showcases state-of-the-art innovation.”

Among these innovations is a transparent protective canopy that provide sun, wind and rain protection and reduce heat retention by 70 percent, as well as a 360-degree concourse, “immersive” in-bowl digital and lighting technology and a subtropical nature park open year-round to the visitors.

The agreement will still see the Jaguars play one game a year in London.

Jacksonville Jaguars stadium update May 2024Image: City of Jacksonville

The EverBank Stadium’s regular capacity of 67,814 will be reduced to around 63,000, though it can expand to 71,500 for the special events such as concerts or college football games.

The Jags ended last season with a 9-8 record, finishing second in the American Football Conference (AFC) South behind their peer team the Houston Texans and missing the playoffs.
 

Pay-as-you-go campaign

‘WUSF’ stated that the City wants to finance its portion by moving $600 million from a capital improvement plan and using revenue from an existing, half-penny sales tax to fund the build in a pay-as-you-go campaign. The City says it would save $1.5 billion in debt-services fees over the life of the lease.

Maintained Mark Lamping, Jaguars team President, “We wouldn’t be proposing it or pushing it if we didn’t have a certain level of confidence that this deal would be approved.”

‘WUSF’ further stated that the team and Mayor Deegan will host five “community huddles” to answer public questions and gather feedback on the plan before the City Council vote.

Remarked Ron Salem, Council President, to his fellow members, “This is a lot of information to digest. And I’m sure many of you have questions, as I do. I will commit that we will take all the time we need to get this deal right. So, please take the time necessary to review the documentation and preparation for the discourse over the next several weeks.”
 

Rays-like situation

The Jaguars have been in the bottom quartile of the league in revenue for decades and have played annually in London since 2013 to help boost their bottom line. The team’s lease runs through 2029, leaving little room for prolonged negotiations and/or do-overs.

It’s a similar situation in St. Petersburg, its City Council is mulling over its proposed financial investment in a new $1.3 billion stadium for the Major League Baseball (MLB) team Tampa Bay Rays, which also struggles with attendance.

The City would contribute $287.5 million toward a stadium and $130 million toward infrastructure in addition to any debt service. Financing centers on tax increment financing, a tool to spur economic development in an area with the expectation of increased property tax revenue to cover future debt.

The Rays and the Pinellas County would combine to pay $600 million toward the cost of the stadium, which would be part of a $6.5 billion renovation of the City’s (St. Petersburg) Historic Gas Plant District.

The Rays’ current lease at their home venue – the 42,735-capacity Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida – ends in 2027. Another City Council workshop on the project is slated for June.
 

A year in Gainesville or Orlando

In Jacksonville, construction would begin following the 2025 season. The Jaguars would play in front of a reduced capacity in 2026 and host home games in either Gainesville or Orlando the following year. The 1, 01,500-capacity Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida, had been under consideration but has since been eliminated.

Under the new lease, the Jaguars would play all preseason and postseason games in Jacksonville and would continue to play one home game a year in London (UK), likely at the 90,000-capacity Wembley Stadium in Wembley, England.

Added Mayor Deegan, “It is with great pride that we’re an NFL City. It means a lot to this community. It’s a rallying point for Jacksonville. And while nobody wants to spend a lot of money, the truth is this was a binary choice: We could build this stadium or we could lose our team. And that’s not going to happen on my watch. This is something that’s incredibly important to Jacksonville.”

The Jags could play one additional home game every four years overseas, but only if the NFL dictates and only during seasons in which the Jaguars have nine home games. The Jacksonville owns global marketing rights in Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Deegan said after the presentation, “This is light years ahead of the last lease.”

The sides expect the revamped stadium to lead to more high-profile events such as the US soccer matches and concerts.

Jaguars Owner Shad Khan agreed to take on all construction cost overruns, assume day-to-day operations of the stadium and take on the majority of gameday expenses moving forward.
 

A future “wearing shades”

The 63,000-seat, open-air stadium will include a translucent covering that’s the equivalent of “wearing shades in the sun,” Lamping said. It’s expected to lower outside temperatures by 15 degrees.

The stadium plan also includes 140 percent more concourse space, 190 new points of sale (POS), 16 new escaladers, 12 new elevators, and 12 new restrooms.

The capacity could be expanded to 71,500 to accommodate the annual Florida-Georgia college football rivalry, the Gator Bowl (an annual college football bowl game held in Jacksonville, Florida), a College Football Playoff game or a Final Four basketball tournament (the final round of both the men’s and women’s NCAA Division I basketball tournaments). Pools and a party deck would remain in the North end zone.

The College Football Playoff (CFP) is an annual postseason knockout invitational tournament to determine a national champion for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), the highest level of college football competition in the United States.

Indianapolis (US)-based the National Collegiate Athletic Association is a nonprofit organization that regulates student athletics among about 1,100 schools in the United States and one in Canada. It also organizes the athletic programs of the colleges and helps over 500,000 college student-athletes who compete annually in college sports.

The NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), formerly known as the Division I-A, is the highest level of college football in the United States. The FBS consists of the largest schools in the National Collegiate Athletic Association. As of the 2024 season, there are 10 Conferences and 134 schools in FBS.

The City and the Jaguars still hope to add substantial development to the surrounding area, which is expected to include a University of Florida satellite campus that would bring in 10,000 graduate students. Deegan called the surrounding area critical to the development of the downtown area.

Mayor Deegan said it is a whole lot easier “to be negative than it is to be positive, but the team loves Jax. They have gone around the bend to get to an agreement that was so much better for our taxpayers. I’m very, very proud of that. As a native of this City and someone who really believes in that and in this team. I think, in the next 30 years, we’re gonna watch this City truly blossom. And I think this stadium is a big piece of that.”

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