Legislation would reserve land for Downtown soccer stadium

Jacksonville Armada FC is pursuing deal for stadium complex.

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A land deal that could result in a 10,000-seat soccer stadium for the Jacksonville Armada FC is headed to City Council for consideration. 

Council President Scott Wilson filed legislation Thursday that would approve an option agreement between the city and RP Sports Investments Inc. to reserve 5 acres of city-owned property in Jacksonville’s Eastside neighborhood.

RP Sports is led by Armada owner Robert Palmer.

The agreement does not guarantee that the stadium complex is a done deal, but Armada leadership say it would allow time to conduct environmental mitigation and other due diligence on the property bounded by A. Philip Randolph Boulevard and Grant, Albert and Georgia streets.

A summary of the development terms provided by the city Office of Economic Development states that the stadium must be a minimum of 2,500 seats. The complex also would provide 100 to 200 parking spaces.

In addition to the stadium, the soccer club’s plans include commercial office space in one or more buildings of “no less than 25,000 square feet and not more than 175,000 square feet,” the summary states.

Armada club President and General Manager Nathan Walter said in an interview Nov. 15 that Robert Palmer Companies employees and operations in Baymeadows would relocated to the new stadium complex.

The company leases office space at 8381 Dix Ellis Trail in Prominence office park. It has 175 employees.

Walter said “three or four” Palmer companies are considering expansion and use of the corporate office space in the proposed stadium.

RP Funding and RP Sports are both part of  Robert Palmer Companies. Palmer also founded HomeValue.com and other business ventures based in Central Florida. He bought the Armada in 2017. 

Ordinance 2019-853 requires RP Sports to begin construction on the soccer stadium and parking by Jan. 31, 2024, and be substantially completed by July 31, 2025. If the company fails to meet the completion deadline, the city could require RP Sports to pay fair market value for the property.

RP Sports will make a $5,000 payment to the city within three days of executing the agreement. After 30 days, the city would enter a purchase agreement for the property with RP Sports for $1. 

The option would expire Jan. 31, 2023, if no action is taken. If RP Sports hasn’t closed on the property by Jan. 1, 2024, it will revert to the city.

Council’s next meeting is 5 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 117 W. Duval St.