Jaguars mull single season away from home


Jaguars hoping to be away only for one season from home field Image: Jacksonville Jaguars

The National Football League (NFL) team Jacksonville Jaguars are working to shorten the amount of time they would play outside Jacksonville during a potential $1.4 billion renovation of their home stadium – the EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida, US.

‘USA TODAY’ stated that the team President Mark Lamping has a proposal that would reduce the number of seasons the Jaguars are away from the EverBank Stadium from two years to one.

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), which primarily serves as the home facility of the Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League (NFL).

The Jaguars unveiled plans for the renovation in June 2023. The plans include a 360 degree concourse, an energy-efficient façade and a large canopy. The capacity will be reduced to 62,000, expandable to 71,500 for college football games. The current proposal for stadium renovations would begin in 2025.

‘USA TODAY’ further stated that it’s a significant change that should help ease some external angst regarding a pending project that would tie the team to one of the NFL’s smallest markets for decades.

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.

Said Lamping, “While it’s not final, we think there is the likelihood of a solution where we’d only have to be away for one season. That would answer a lot of questions because that becomes a little more normal. That’s what the (Chicago) Bears did. That’s what the (Minnesota) Vikings did (NFL teams). We’ve got some preliminary pricing. It’s a little more expensive than being away for two years, but it’s not exorbitantly more expensive. We think it’s probably reasonable. It’s still just a concept right now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we have something to share with the City the next time we sit down.”

The City and the Jaguars are scheduled to resume negotiations on the downtown makeover soon, with the Mayor of Jacksonville Donna Deegan saying she would “like to get this done sooner rather than later”. “I’d like to get this past us and move on to other issues that are important for our City.”

Deegan also suggested that playing one home game a year in London (UK) – something the Jaguars have made clear they don’t intend to budge on – would not be integral to negotiations – “I just don’t think it’s that detrimental for the City to have that game where people can see Jacksonville from another place.”

The Jaguars unveiled conceptual designs for their ‘Stadium of the Future’ in June. The proposal includes a 62,000-seat open-air stadium under a translucent covering that’s the equivalent of “wearing shades in the sun”. The venture still requires approval from Deegan and the City Council.

The Jaguars proposed a 50-50 financial contribution model similar to ones that worked in getting a $45 million amphitheater built next to the stadium in 2017 and a $120 million practice facility that opened in July.

Although the City would be on the hook for the majority of the City-owned stadium costs, a substantial development to the surrounding area would bring the total project to roughly $2 billion. The Jaguars Owner Shad Khan would pick up most of the cost on the surrounding area.

Lamping hopes to get approval by next Spring so that the Jaguars can make a formal presentation to the NFL owners in May.

The initial plan called for the Jags to play elsewhere during the 2026 and 2027 seasons. But the tweak would allow them to remain in EverBank throughout 2026 with a reduced capacity between 40,000 and 45,000. The upper deck would be closed that season because ramps that bring fans up and down would be removed.

Added Lamping, “We’d like to snap our fingers and have every game be played in Jacksonville and still get it done as fast as we can and at the lowest possible cost. But those two objectives aren’t compatible. So we kept pushing the architects and kept pushing the Construction Manager. Let’s see if there’s a way that if we can resequence some things, move some things around. … We’re still validating the plan, but as of right now, if you talk to the architects and you talk to the construction people, can it happen? They would say, ‘Yeah, we think it can.’”

The Jaguars are still deciding where to play in 2027. Daytona Beach, Gainesville and Orlando are preliminary targets, with Lamping saying playing NFL games inside the Daytona International Speedway “would be a real spectacle”.

The 101,500-capacity Daytona International Speedway is a race track in Daytona Beach, Florida, United States, about 50 mi North of Orlando. Since opening in 1959, it has been the home of the Daytona 500, the most prestigious race in National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) as well as its season opening event.

Daytona Beach (US)-based the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, LLC is an American auto racing sanctioning and operating company that is best known for stock car racing. It is considered to be one of the top- ranked motorsports organizations in the world, and is one of the largest spectator sports in America.

Playing multiple home games in London is a possibility, but it’s likely to be two at most.

Said Khan, “I’m really encouraged. We’ve been working on this thing for seven years now, since 2016. We wanted to present a vision that’s reasonably well thought out and really have a discussion with some meat to it and not just a vision. The key point is the Jaguars are one small part of this. We do know some of the laws of economics and what have you in smaller markets, but I think this is much bigger than just the Jaguars.”

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