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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Jul. 9, 201905:20 AM EST

Fanatics seeking changes to economic development agreement

Company wants to substitute improvements it made a facility not included in the 2015 deal.
by: Mike Mendenhall Staff Writer

Fanatics, the Jacksonville-based e-commerce retailer of licensed sports merchandise, is asking the city to allow capital investments made at its 7215 Financial Way location to qualify for its 2015 economic development agreement.

The 2015 agreement extends a seven-year, 50% Recaptured Enhanced Value grant to Fanatics capped at $300,000 for renovations and expansion of the company’s facilities at 8100 Nations Way and 6800 Southpoint Parkway. 

According to the city Office of Economic Development, Fanatics has invested $9.8 million in its Jacksonville operations as of Dec. 31 and has reported 437 jobs, hitting benchmarks required by the agreement. But some of that investment was done at the company’s Financial Way property — a facility not included in the agreement.

Ordinance 2019-471, introduced June 25 by District 3 City Council member Aaron Bowman at the request of Mayor Lenny Curry, would amend the 2015 agreement to include 7215 Financial Way and eliminate the Southpoint Parkway facility.

Fanatics promised $10 million in capital investments over five years. The agreement also requires the company to retain 400 permanent jobs and create 80 jobs with an average annual salary of $85,808 by Dec. 31.

In a legislation fact sheet, OED officials said Fanatics is on track to meet those commitments.

“While the company has met the capital investment requirements and new job requirements to date, in part they did so at a location not listed in the agreement,” OED Executive Director Kirk Wendland wrote.

Fanatics would receive up to six REV grant payments from the city in fiscal 2019-20 in the amended agreement, with the final payment scheduled in FY 2024. The cap would remain at $300,000. 

Fanatics also is seeking to opt out of $240,000 in state and city Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund payments in the original economic development agreement, about $3,000 per job created. The city’s local financial support for the QTI was $600 per job, not to exceed $48,000. 

The proposed legislation would eliminate QTI incentives from the agreement. According to OED officials, no city-backed payments have been made to Fanatics

The bill will have to be approved by the City Council Finance Committee before a final vote.

Fanatics has its roots at Orange Park Mall where it opened in 1990 as an athletics apparel retail store. It has since grown to operate more than 300 online and offline stores, including e-commerce business for all major U.S. professional sports leagues — NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS, NASCAR and the PGA. 

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