Jaguars president states need for TIAA Bank Field upgrade

Jacksonville Jaguars president, Mark Lamping, has said the potential extension of the NFL American football team’s lease deal with the City of Jacksonville would be dependent on a major redevelopment of TIAA Bank Field, among other factors.

The Jaguars’ current lease deal for the City-owned stadium still has another decade to run, through to 2030, but has come under the spotlight amid ongoing talks over financing for the proposed Lot J development.

The Jaguars last month saw their plans for a mixed-use development in the area surrounding TIAA Bank Field move forward after agreeing financial terms for the project with the City. The plans moved ahead following a meeting between the City, the Jaguars and The Cordish Companies, the team’s partner in the project.

The $450m (£337.2m/€378.6m) development at Lot J is expected to spur economic growth in Jacksonville, especially in neighbourhoods north and east of the sports complex. The mixed-use development, dubbed the ‘Live! District,’ will include two residential buildings with a total of 400 for-rent residences, a 150-250 room hotel, 75,000 square feet of street-level retail, and 40,000 square feet of Class A office space.

A 100,000 square-foot entertainment centre will also be developed with bars and restaurants, as well as indoor and outdoor facilities. As part of the agreement, the total direct public investment of $152.7m will include no more than $50m for the City-owned Live! District, $12.5m over 20 years in a REV grant to support the residential component, $12.5m over 20 years to support the hotel, and $77.7m in City-owned infrastructure.

In addition, the City will provide a $65.5m loan to the developer, which will be secured by the developer with a $13.1m deposit into a City-owned trust account. The City will own the Live! district, the infrastructure and all parking within the project.

The proposed financial agreement would result in the most lucrative incentives package ever granted to a single project in Jacksonville and is due to be voted upon by City Council. It has therefore been the subject of much debate, with the Jaguars’ stadium lease deal part of the conversation.

“If you’re going to be making a long-term extension of a lease, there needs to be certainty that you’re going to have an NFL-quality stadium during the term of that extension,” Lamping told the Florida Times-Union newspaper. “That’s obvious, no different than when the Jaguars came to Jacksonville.

“The NFL wasn’t going to bring a team here (in 1995) and have them play in the old Gator Bowl. That hasn’t changed at all. That question needs to be answered. That’s why we have been raising this for the past couple years. So we’re getting ahead of it. Going to the league now and trying to get a lease extension without a stadium solution is going to end up not where we want it to end up.”

TIAA Bank Field opened in 1995 and the 67,814-capacity stadium has had only minor upgrades since then. Indeed, the Jaguars point to the fact that Jacksonville, along with Buffalo, is the only NFL city that hasn’t either built a new stadium or conducted a major renovation, deemed to be in the $400m to $500m range, in this time.

Lamping added: “(A lease extension) has to go to a vote of the owners that requires three-quarters vote. That same provision would apply as it relates to the extension of our lease (receiving approval from NFL owners) and, to tell you, there’s no way that the NFL would even consider a long-term extension of a lease with Jacksonville without a long-term solution for the stadium.”

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