Jacksonville residents don’t want tax money used to transform city-owned EverBank Stadium into the Jacksonville Jaguars “Stadium of the Future,” but that opposition shrinks if it means losing the NFL team, according to a University of North Florida Public Opinion Research Lab Jax Speaks Poll released Sept. 18.
In June, the Jaguars announced the organization’s vision for a $1.2 billion to $1.4 billion renovated stadium and a $550 million to $668 million mixed-use neighborhood around it. The team has said they expect a 50-50 split in paying for the renovations.
The poll of 511 registered voters was conducted Sept. 12-15. It asked the following about the stadium renovation, with four scenarios:
“When it comes to funding the stadium and sports district development between the City and the Jaguars, which of the following do you support the most?”
• The Jaguars purchasing the land and paying for stadium renovations and sports district development with no public investment: 51% support.
• The city sharing the costs with the Jaguars, spending up to $250 million of public funds for stadium and sports district development: 21% support.
• The city sharing the costs with the Jaguars, spending up to $500 million of public funds for stadium and sports district development: 12% support
• The city sharing the costs with the Jaguars, spending up to $1 billion of public funds for stadium and sports district development: 6% support.
However, when voters were asked if spending $1 billion in public money was required to keep the team from leaving Jacksonville, 46% supported spending the money.
The poll also found that 49% said it was very important for the city to have an NFL franchise, 22% said it was moderately important, 12% slightly important, 15% not important at all and 1% didn’t know.
“It’s no wonder Duval County voters don’t want to foot the bill for stadium renovations, but what’s really interesting is their change of heart when given the ultimatum of a $1 billion public investment or the Jaguars walking away,” said Michael Binder, Public Opinion Research Lab faculty director, in a news release.
“This is just one of several reasons that local taxpayers are going to end up shelling out an enormous sum of money for this endeavor.”
When asked what was most important to them in a potential deal between the city and the Jaguars, 45% said community and economic investment in underserved neighborhoods, 19% said creating more entertainment Downtown, 17% said negotiating the smallest possible public investment, 5% said minimizing construction time to ensure more games played at home and 4% said fixing the temperature problems in the stadium.
In another question, 41% said that previous public-private partnerships with the Jaguars and owner Shad Khan, like the practice fields, Daily’s Place and previous stadium upgrades, met their expectations for economic growth and development Downtown, 27% said they failed to meet their expectations and just 9% said they exceeded their expectations.
“When it comes to the stadium and sports district deal, folks are mainly concerned with the economic benefit to the downtown area and surrounding neighborhoods,” Binder said.
“Voters seem relatively satisfied with the way other public investments like Daily’s Place and the new scoreboards have gone in the past, but study after study has shown that public investments in sports stadiums rarely benefit local economies, despite claims to the contrary.”
The polling group comprised 39% Democrats, 35% Republicans and 26% nonparty affiliation. The margin of error is 4.8%