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Friday, July 19, 2024
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Hurdles Still Remain After Jaguars Secure $775 Million for Stadium

  • The NFL team still needs to get league approval on its stadium deal and select a temporary home.
  • Owner Shad Khan calls last year’s late-season slide ‘organizational failure.’
Florida Times-Union

The Jaguars have cleared one major hurdle this week, winning Jacksonville city council approval on $775 million of public money toward a large-scale renovation of EverBank Stadium. But that crucial political win now will lead to several other issues for the team that still need to be settled. 

The council’s approval by a 14–1 vote with two abstentions and two absences provided an emphatic signal of the city’s desire to remain a big-league sports town, and mayor Donna Keegan (above, right) called the outcome “generational progress.” The Jaguars will pay $625 million in the project, plus cost overruns, in what is the largest single capital project in the history of Jacksonville. 

Challenges and Questions Ahead

Several issues, however, relating to the planned development of what the team is calling the “Stadium of the Future” are still outstanding. Among them:

  • Approval by NFL owners: The measure must also go before other NFL team owners, and that is slated to happen at fall meetings scheduled for Oct. 15–16 in Atlanta. The Jacksonville agreement calls for a 55% contribution from the public sector. That figure is lower than the taxpayer funds going into stadium projects in Buffalo and Tennessee, both in actual amount and percentage of overall development cost. Kansas lawmakers also recently approved a bonding measure that could cover 70% of a stadium development if the Chiefs move across the border from Missouri. But amid thorny political issues in other NFL markets such as Chicago, Jaguars executives said they don’t anticipate a problem with other owners and said they “look forward to getting this finalized.”
  • Where to play in 2027? The deal calls for a renovated EverBank Stadium to reopen in 2028. But the year before, the team will need a new home while some of the more substantive construction work is done. After a prior consideration of Daytona International Speedway, the leading options now are Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Fla., and Camping World Stadium in Orlando. Both facilities are within two hours of Jacksonville, and Jaguars owner Shad Khan (above, left) said he wants the temporary home to be “close enough for the fans.”
  • What about London? The 30-year lease deal with Jacksonville includes a non-relocation provision, and it limits what the Jaguars can do in London. The team will still play there once a year, except when mandated by the league to play in an additional international game. But a regular presence by the team in London that began in 2013 and included two games last year in a league first will now have clear guardrails. For the ’27 season specifically, the Jaguars also have an option to play up to three games there, again due to the construction. 

‘Organizational Failure’

Khan, meanwhile, also is still lamenting the Jaguars’ end to the 2023 season, in which an 8–3 start faded to a 9–8 final record, leaving the team out of the playoffs. 

“I think it’s organizational failure that it happened,” he said. “All of these players that I talked to, it’s like, ‘How could this happen? What happened?’ For me, it’s really a cause for self-reflection and then something good to come out of it, because we just can’t have that this year. For us, winning now is the expectation.”

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