The Jacksonville Jaguars made no secret of their desire for much more public-sector engagement with their $2 billion project to upgrade the publicly owned EverBank Stadium.
Jacksonville mayor Donna Deegan says she’s up to the task but is still grappling with the sharply opposing ideologies of her electorate.
Days after Jaguars president Mark Lamping insisted his assertion that “if Jacksonville loses an NFL team, they’re never going to get another one” was not a threat to leave, Deegan traveled to London to meet with him and team owner Shad Khan during their two weeks of games there. She insists on having a direct and active role in the ongoing stadium talks.
“Ultimately, I will have the final say on our team. The buck stops with me,” Deegan told WJAX-TV.
Deegan has assumed that stance since taking office on July 1, but she also has seen a growing divide on the issue that will need to be resolved before any deal is finalized. The Jaguars have envisioned a self-described “Stadium of the Future” and related development around the facility, with the $2 billion cost split between the team and public sector.
“The bottom line is 80% [of local citizens] say they don’t want to spend the money, 80% don’t want to lose the Jags,” she said. “Those two things are simply mutually exclusive, so an agreement must be reached. Hopefully, we can come up with one that we are pretty pleased with.”