Lamping: Jacksonville Jaguars won’t object to community benefits being considered as stand-alone

Council members are divided on the $300 million package, which is part of the stadium deal between the city and team.

  • By Ric Anderson
  • | 2:31 p.m. June 13, 2024
  • | 4 Free Articles Remaining!
The Jacksonville Jaguars "Stadium of the Future" is shown in this rendering released May 14.
The Jacksonville Jaguars "Stadium of the Future" is shown in this rendering released May 14.
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As the Jacksonville City Council weighs the proposed stadium deal between the city and Jacksonville Jaguars, team President Mark Lamping said June 13 that the Jaguars will not object if Council opts to detach a community benefits package from the agreement and vote on it separately.

Speaking during a Council workshop, Lamping said the team would prefer that Council members vote on all nine individual agreements in the deal as one. However, he said, “ultimately that decision is up to this body and we’ll respect your decision.”

Council President Ron Salem said early in the process that he would prefer to cull the $300 million community benefits agreement and consider it after Council returns from its summer break in mid-July and begins working on the city’s 2024-25 budget. 

Salem and other Council members have questioned how the agreement, which calls for the city and Jaguars to each contribute $150 million, would affect the city’s budget stability and its ability to address other needs amid impending expenditures such as incentives for Downtown development projects and a new jail.

Lamping said that if Council doesn’t approve any matching funding, the team will fulfill a commitment it made at the outset of negotiations to provide $100 million for community benefits over 30 years. If Council decides not to contribute the full $150 million, he said the team would put up $1 for every $3 from the city would offer.

Lamping said the team would expect the city to decide on its portion of the agreement by the end of September, its deadline for finalizing the 2024-25 city budget. 

The workshop focused on four of the nine agreements that make up the overall stadium deal. In addition to the community benefits package, the agenda included the stadium security agreement and long-term leases for the Miller Electric Center and Daily’s Place.  

During a June 5 workshop, Council went over a nonrelocation agreement, a guarantee that covers issues such as payments and interest, and the city’s proposed mechanism for its share of the funding.

$150 million from city, Jaguars

The community benefits agreement calls for the team and city to each contribute $150 million toward workforce development, affordable housing and homelessness services in the Eastside neighborhood near the stadium and throughout the county. It also includes money for development of riverfront parks.

The Jaguars initially offered to commit $100 million to community benefits, minus any pledge by the city. By itself, that would be the largest community benefits agreement in the history of the NFL.  Mayor Donna Deegan’s administration upped the ante by offering $150 million in city funding if the team would match it.

Discussing the community benefits agreement June 11, Council member Nick Howland questioned how the city spending would affect its ability to fund other needs. He asked why the administration hadn’t sought the $150 million in funding for the specific needs identified in the community benefits package during budget discussions last year.

Howland also noted that the city was already providing significant funding for Downtown and parks. Of the city’s $423 million budget for capital improvements in 2023-24, he said, 43% of the money was for projects in District 7, which includes Downtown. He said 28% of funding in the five-year Capital Improvement Plan was directed to District 7, and $82 million was directed to Downtown riverfront parks. 

Seeking a ‘touchdown’

Proponents of the community benefits agreement say it will accelerate Downtown revitalization, boost the Eastside neighborhood and benefit the entire community. 

Council member Matt Carlucci urged his colleagues not to break it out of the blanket agreement.  

“If we take this out of the package, then all we’re getting in the stadium agreement is a field goal. Man, I want to score a touchdown here,” he said. 

“If we take this CBA out and try to put it through budget process, that all sounds good, but the package we’ve got is amazing. This is an amazing opportunity that we don’t want to miss.”

Under the overall agreement, the city and team would each contribute $625 million for construction of the stadium. The city would provide an additional $150 million for deferred maintenance and capital improvements to prepare the stadium for the renovations and allow the team to play in it for two seasons while construction is underway. 

The $150 million in the community benefits agreement brings the city’s total contribution to $925 million.

Plans call for EverBank Stadium to be transformed into the Jaguars “Stadium of the Future,” with new features such as a roof membrane that would shade seating areas from sun and rainfall, heat-reducing elements such as openings at the corners and a metallic exterior covering designed to reduce heat, an elevated concourse, more restrooms and new food and beverage options. 

Seeding programs

Appearing at a Rail Yard District Business Council luncheon June 12, Deegan said the deal was designed so that the city’s money would be spent early in the 30-year agreement while the Jaguars contribute $5 million annually over the full term. 

“We get to seed these programs immediately with real money and then have the sustaining money come in over 30 years,” she said.

“That’s what makes this something that can really create an impact for Downtown and the whole city, because if we make Downtown go, we make Jacksonville go.”

Salem would prefer to detach the community benefits package from the deal and consider it after Council returns from its summer break in mid-July and begins working on the city’s 2024-25 budget. 

During a June 11 appearance at the Jacksonville Business Professionals group, Salem said he had been told that city revenue would be down $100 million this year due to a decline in property tax revenue and the depletion of the city’s federal coronavirus pandemic relief funding.

Budget concerns

He said he questioned how the community benefits funding would affect the budget considering the dip in revenue. 

Salem also expressed concern that the agreement called for $1 million for each of the 14 Council districts, saying he didn’t believe it was an effective way to spend tax dollars. Asked if he believed it was an attempt by the mayor’s office to induce support for the agreement among Council members, he said, “I’m not suggesting that my colleagues can be bought by a million dollars, but that technique has been used in the past.“

Council member Rory Diamond previously called the community benefits package a nonstarter, criticizing Deegan for trading $150 million in taxpayer funding for an additional $50 million out of the team. 

A public hearing on the stadium is scheduled for June 17. If the process runs smoothly, Council will take a final vote June 25 on legislation for the deal, Ordinance 2024-0904. 



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