Jaguars Stadium of the Future deal includes $775 million in public funding

Plans call for a four-year construction timeline with the stadium opening in 2028.


  • By Ric Anderson
  • | 5:45 p.m. May 14, 2024
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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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The city of Jacksonville would provide $775 million in public funding to remake EverBank Stadium into the Jacksonville Jaguars’ “Stadium of the Future” and provide long-term maintenance for the facility under a proposed deal presented May 14 to the City Council.

The framework of the deal, which Mayor Donna Deegan’s office has been negotiating with the NFL team since August, includes a 50-50 split with the Jaguars for the estimated $1.25 billion cost of building the stadium. In addition, the city would provide $150 million for deferred maintenance and ongoing capital improvements. 

That will bring the total cost for the project to $1.4 billion.

The split for the total cost is 55-45 with the city picking up the majority. The Jaguars will cover cost overruns. 

Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan speaks as the deal to remake EverBank Stadium for the Jacksonville Jaguars was announced to the City Council on May 14.

Plans call for a four-year construction timeline with the stadium opening in 2028. 

“Jacksonville has the privilege of being an NFL town, and this deal will ensure residents can enjoy the benefits of that privilege for decades to come,” Deegan said.

The Jaguars would play the 2025 season in Jacksonville with a 60,000-seat capacity and remain in the city in 2026 with a reduced capacity of 43,500. The 2027 season would be played away from Jacksonville. 

The agreement would allow the team to use one of its home game dates each season to play in London. The Jaguars would play all of its pre- and post-season home games in Jacksonville. 

Mike Weinstein, the lead negotiator for Deegan’s administration, said the lease included a non-relocation clause that would impose “significant (financial) damages” on the team if it leaves Jacksonville.

Community benefits agreement

The framework includes what Deegan described as the largest community benefits agreement in the history of the NFL, a $300 million investment split evenly between the city and the team. 

Mike Weinstein, chief negotiator for the city in the "Stadium of the Future" deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars, speaks to the City Council on May 14.
Photo by J. Brooks Terry

The agreement will provide funding for community development and affordable housing and homelessness in the Out East neighborhood and countywide, and for park projects that include the Riverfront Plaza and Shipyards West Park on the Downtown Northbank. 

The deal includes no contribution from the state of Florida, which has consistently denied public funding for professional stadiums. The lack of state funding differentiates the city’s deal with the Jaguars from stadium agreements in several other NFL cities, where state funding is commonly provided

That includes recent deals in Las Vegas; Nashville, Tennessee; and Buffalo, New York. 

Council timeline

Council approval will be needed for the public funding attached to the deal, which comprises seven separate agreements with the team. 

Ron Salem

Council President Ron Salem told members that he hoped to begin meeting on the framework by the first week of June.

“It would be my goal to take a vote on the complete agreement at the June 25th Council meeting if we can get that done,” he said.

Salem has said he hopes to have the agreement in place by the time his term as president ends at the end of June. 

“We are not going to vote on this agreement until everybody has all of their questions answered, period,” he said during the May 14 meeting.

“If it goes beyond June 25, it goes beyond June 25.”

The upgrades

As expected, the proposed deal did not include an adjacent entertainment and dining district that the Jaguars included in their initial proposal. Costs of that portion of the project were estimated as high as $688 million.

The Jacksonville Jaguars "Stadium of the Future" is shown in this rendering released May 14.

The Jaguars released conceptual plans for the stadium in June 2023, nearly three years after the team started exploring long-term stadium plans. 

Upgrades would include a shade covering the entire stadium from sun and rain. The stadium would remain open-air and the covering would be more transparent toward the center. Renderings also showed a mirrored facade and an elevated, wraparound concourse with observation decks providing views of the St. Johns River and Downtown skyline. The team said the concourse would be four times wider than the current versions and would include “interactive social bars” and local food offerings. 

Fans would enter the upgraded stadium through a “tropical Floridian park.” 

Additions include 190 new points of sale for concessions, 12 new restrooms, 16 new escalators and 1.92 million square feet of new space. 

Jaguars President Mark Lamping said the new stadium would generate $26 billion in economic impact over the 30-year life of the new lease, and $2.6 billion in one-time economic impact during construction. 

The plan to pay for it

The city’s plan for funding the stadium partly involves adjusting timetables for two sales tax increases approved by voters, starting with the Better Jacksonville Plan referendum to fund capital projects.

The Jacksonville Jaguars 'Stadium of the Future' is shown in this rendering released May 14.

That half-cent sales tax was set to expire in 2030. In the second referendum, voters approved the same half-penny increase to fund a deficit in the Police and Fire Pension Fund and General Employees’ Pension Fund. That tax begins after the Better Jacksonville Plan tax ends.

Under Mayor Lenny Curry’s administration, the city opted to end the Better Jacksonville Plan as early as 2026 and move projects to the city’s Capital Improvement Plan, where they would be paid for with borrowed funds. That allowed for an early start to paying toward pension funds.

Under Deegan’s plan, the city would reset the end of the Better Jacksonville Plan back to 2030 and move several projects back to being covered under that funding. 

Jacksonville Jaguars President Mark Lamping talks about the deal with the city for the team's 'Stadium of the Future," at the City Council meeting May 14.

Weinstein said the move would save $500 million from anticipated borrowing and would save taxpayers $1.5 billion in debt payments. The pension funds would still be paid off in 30 years, he said, and the projects could be completed according to their schedules.

The city’s contribution to the stadium plan would be added to the Capital Improvement Plan, where it would be added to the mix of projects paid for by borrowed funds.

Already under fire

The plan drew criticism from Council member Rory Diamond, who called it “insanity” and “not legal” in a post on X.

Rory Diamond

“We need to keep our commitments to our firefighters and JSO officers,” he said. “We need to protect our taxpayers from wild new spending and even more debt.” 

Asked for a response, Deegan called the plan “absolutely brilliant.” 

“We’ve already run it through legal channels and it’s absolutely perfectly legal because all it really does is leave our Better Jacksonville money in place,” she said. “I would think that somebody like the councilman would be very much for paying things off as opposed to paying an additional $1.5 billion to keep them in the debt service.” 

Stadium operations

Elsewhere in the framework, the Jaguars would assume responsibility of day-to-day stadium operations and would develop annual budgets and capital and maintenance plans subject to joint approval by the city and team. 

The Jacksonville Jaguars 'Stadium of the Future' is shown in this rendering released May 14.

The Jaguars also would begin paying for 80.4% of game day expenses, which are now covered entirely by the city. Under the new lease, the city would provide only police and fire projection. 

For its contribution, Lamping said the team would not adopt personal seat licenses to raise revenue. Several teams sell PSLs to fans at prices that can reach six figures. The price of tickets, concessions, fan gear and other items is charged on top of the PSL fees.

Other details include:

• The Jaguars’ offices, which now are provided at no cost by the city, will move out of the stadium and be funded by the team. The move will open space in the stadium for meetings and events.

• The city will not be required to replace the temporary loss of parking during construction or the permanent loss of spaces due to the renovation.

Georgia-Florida game 

Weinstein said negotiations will begin with the University of Florida and University of Georgia about extending their agreement to play in Jacksonville once the stadium deal is approved. 

The Jacksonville Jaguars "Stadium of the Future" is shown in this rendering released May 14.

“They’re engaged and involved with every decision as far as the layout of the stadium,” he said. “They agree to the capacity. They’re very excited about the future,” he said.

The framework was negotiated between the team and Deegan’s office, which designated Weinstein as its lead negotiator and also hired Sidley Austin LLP to help represent the city. The Chicago-based law firm has helped negotiate several stadium projects, including with the Buffalo Bills and Washington Commanders. 

Community meetings

The city and team have scheduled five community meetings to present the framework and gather input from the public, similar to the “community huddles” that followed the rollout of designs for the stadium upgrades in mid-2023.

The meeting schedule:

May 15 at Mandarin High School, 4831 Greenland Road.

May 16 at Legends Center, 5130 Soutel Drive.

May 20 at Fletcher High School, 700 Seagate Ave., Neptune Beach.

May 29 at Sandalwood High School, 2750 John Promenade Blvd.

May 30 at Westside High School, 5530 Firestone Road.

All meetings are 6-7:30 p.m. Admission is free and no registration is required.

Stadium history

The Jaguars played their first game in what is now EverBank Stadium at the outset of the preseason in 1995. The stadium underwent a $63 million renovation in preparation to host Super Bowl XXXIX in 2005. 

In 2016, a $90 million renovation funded by the city and Jaguars resulted in changes to the club seating, new 50-yard line patios and a new south end zone. A second phase of the project added the Daily’s Place amphitheater and a covered flex field. 

Staff writer J. Brooks Terry contributed to this story. 


Economic framework:

The city released the following economic framework of the deal with the Jaguars. You can see more slides presented to the council here.


 

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