Council approves bill to hire former Jaguars senior vice president as its stadium negotiations consultant

Michael Huyghue & Associates LLC will advise the Council during stadium renovations negotiations with the team that could start in August.

In June, the Jaguars announced the organization’s vision for a $1.2 billion to $1.4 billion renovated “stadium of the future.”
In June, the Jaguars announced the organization’s vision for a $1.2 billion to $1.4 billion renovated “stadium of the future.”
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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 upcoming stadium renovation negotiations with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

This comes as city interim Chief Financial Officer Mike Weinstein said that Mayor Donna Deegan’s administration plans to request its first formal stadium renovation meeting with the team by the end of August. 

Council voted 18-0 on Ordinance 2023-0386 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. Council member Rory Diamond was excused from the meeting.

Michael Huyghue speaks to the Jacksonville City Council on July 25.

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 the stadium. 

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.

Bill caps payments

The scope of services outlined in an exhibit attached to the bill says the consultant will report directly to Council President Ron Salem or to individual Council members at the president’s direction. 

That document shows the consultant would be paid $325 per hour. The bill caps the payments at $150,000. 

Huyghue told the council that when the Los Angeles Chargers were negotiating a deal for its new stadium, legal fees were more than $750 million that the team owner was required to pay, but the NFL “paid the bulk of those fees,” he said.

Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke paid at least $5 billion to build Sofi Stadium, which it shares with the Chargers, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“Like rebates when you buy a car, there are a lot of availabilities that the NFL will pick up that this group would have no ability to understand where those resources are,” Huyghue said. 

“And that’s just one of a number of things that I think I will bring to this body to understand how you can put yourself in a position of not having to write an open check with an inflated process that often doesn’t stay on budget,” he said.

In an interview before the meeting, Salem said that Huyghue’s existing relationships with the other 31 NFL team owners, who will have to approve any deal struck between Khan and the city, as well as his relationships with the other general managers will be an asset to Council.

Salem said he wants the consultant to explore all revenue opportunities to ensure the best financial deal for the city. He said he wants language in a new stadium lease agreement with the Jaguars that ensures “we are getting our fair share five, 10 and 15 years from now.” 

“It’s important to me that the Council has its own representation,” he said. 

“It’s going to be a complicated deal and we have (eight) new Council members, and I want to make sure we provide them all the support they need in this process.”

Negotiations near

Before the vote, Weinstein said the Deegan administration is working with the Office of General Counsel and has interviewed three law firms with national expertise and experience dealing with similar deals that will aid city officials in the negotiations. 

He said the goal is to have the Deegan administration’s law firm under contract in “the next week or two.”  

Weinstein said he intends to bring the Deegan administration’s choice before Council for introductions in August before the first negotiation meeting with the Jaguars. He said the mayor’s office intends to give the Council updates on the talks as they progress. 

Salem said after the meeting that hiring Huyghue will make Council “fully prepared” for that timeline. 

Michael Huyghue formed Michael Huyghue & Associates in 2012. He was the Jaguars’ senior vice president of football operations from 1994-2001.

An investment summary from the city dated May 11 included what Jaguars President Mark Lamping said are rough cost estimates for the project.

It proposes the city pay $800 million to $934 million of the stadium cost and $75 million to $100 million for an adjacent mixed-use project.

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 beginning Aug. 10.

According to City Council Auditor Kim Taylor, if Council spends more than the $150,000 allotted for its legal representation it will have to file another bill to appropriate more money.  

Huyghue formed Michael Huyghue & Associates in 2012. He consults with professional sports teams and agents and advises on sports-related properties, according to his LinkedIn profile. 

He has lived in Jacksonville since 1994 and was the Jaguars’ senior vice president of football operations from 1994-2001.

Huyghue said his work as a lawyer representing the NFL Players Association placed him on the opposing side of the league and team owners in negotiations. 

He told Council that he works with the nonprofit Fritz Pollard Alliance, which monitors diversity hiring in the NFL.

Huyghue also is the North American managing director of General Sports Worldwide in Ponte Vedra. From 2007-12, he was commissioner of the startup professional United Football League. 



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