The Chicago-based Sidley Austin LLP law firm will represent the city in negotiations with the Jacksonville Jaguars as the team seeks a stadium renovation.
The Office of General Counsel announced the selection Aug. 15, saying it was made in consultation with Mayor Donna Deegan’s administration.
The negotiations will include lease negotiation and other real estate development in the stadium area, which is owned by the city.
In June, the Jaguars announced the organization’s vision for a $1.2 billion to $1.4 billion renovated “stadium of the future” and a $550 million to $668 million mixed-use neighborhood around it.
“After a comprehensive selection process and in accordance with the mayor’s desire to bring in an experienced, highly reputable outside law firm, we have chosen Sidney Austin LLP to represent the City in upcoming negotiations,” interim Chief Financial Officer Mike Weinstein said Aug. 15 in a news release.
“We look forward to the partnership with Sidley Austin and to kicking off negotiations with the Jaguars by the end of August.”
Deegan has included $2 million in her proposed fiscal year 2023-24 city budget for the Office of General Counsel to hire special outside legal counsel to aid her administration in negotiating the stadium deal.
That money and the full city budget will be sent through City Council Finance Committee review.
Founded in 1866 in Chicago, Sidley Austin is a multinational law firm with approximately 2,000 lawyers. According to the release, the firm is experienced in complex transactions regarding stadium and arena financing and development and sports-anchored ancillary development.
Sidley’s client list includes regional and local governments, professional sports teams, leagues and investors. Sidley recently represented the state of New York in stadium development negotiations with the Buffalo Bills and represented the Washington Commanders in stadium negotiations in Washington, D.C., the release said.
The administration plans to introduce the law firm to City Council and the community at the Aug. 22 council meeting.
Sidley isn’t the only outside firm advising the city toward a stadium deal. The Jacksonville City Council approved legislation July 25 to authorize $150,000 to contract with sports business law and consulting firm Michael Huyghue & Associates LLC to advise it on stadium renovation negotiation.
Council voted 18-0 to reserve the money to hire Huyghue, a former NFL Players Association lawyer and Jaguars executive, to review the city’s negotiated deal with the Jaguars “for development or redevelopment of a football stadium and ancillary facilities in Jacksonville” when it is complete.
Deegan has said she expects negotiations with Jaguars owner Shad Khan and his negotiating team to start this year. Any public incentives agreement reached by her administration will require Council approval.