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Design & Development

Jaguars, Jacksonville set out ‘Stadium of the Future’ agreement

Featured image credit: HOK

The Jacksonville Jaguars and City of Jacksonville have set out the terms of a proposed $1.4bn (£1.11bn/€1.29bn) revamp of EverBank Stadium, stating that its financing would “compare favourably” to other major projects currently taking place in the NFL.

Mayor Donna Deegan, lead negotiator Mike Weinstein, and Jaguars president Mark Lamping jointly presented the ‘Stadium of the Future’ renovation agreement at a Jacksonville City Council meeting held yesterday (Tuesday).

In what will be the largest public infrastructure investment in Jacksonville history, and the largest private investment in the history of downtown Jacksonville, the main stadium renovation element will cost around $1.25bn, split equally between the Jaguars and the city.

In addition, the city will contribute $150m to make repairs on existing parts of the stadium before redevelopment begins. This means that, all told, the city’s full contribution will be $775m, or 55% of the total project cost. If there are cost escalations, the Jaguars will be liable for them.

The Jaguars said the $1.4bn deal “compares favourably to other NFL markets”. By comparison, the terms of the Buffalo Bills’ new Highmark Stadium will see New York State commit $600m towards the project, with Erie County to provide $250m. The NFL, through its G4 loan programme, and the Bills will provide the remaining $550m. The team had been contributing $350m of the $1.4bn initial projected cost, but this has now increased to $1.54bn with the franchise committed to covering any overruns.

The Tennessee Titans are responsible for $840m of funding for New Nissan Stadium, which includes a $200m contribution from the NFL, and any cost overruns, while $500m will come from a contribution from the State of Tennessee.

The remaining $760m of the $2.1bn budget will come from revenue bonds issued by the Metro Sports Authority to be repaid through levies such as hotel and stadium sales taxes. This is said to be the largest public spending contribution on an NFL stadium to date.

The Jaguars’ deal is different to those of its NFL rivals as the state of Florida has a policy of not subsidising stadium deals, meaning the City of Jacksonville is on its own for the taxpayer part of the contribution.

The Jaguars said: “All parties are pleased to have reached agreement on the framework of a deal that protects the taxpayers, benefits the entire community, and secures the Jaguars’ presence in Jacksonville for decades to come.

“Estimates suggest the economic impact of the renovated stadium to the Jacksonville community throughout the Jaguars’ 30-year lease will total $26bn, with an estimated $2.4bn in one-time economic impact during construction.”

Future vision

The Jaguars in July said they would seek to pursue a two-year continuous renovation model for EverBank Stadium, formerly TIAA Bank Field, under the ‘Stadium of the Future’ vision. The team earlier unveiled eye-catching conceptual designs for the project, which will see EverBank Stadium undergo major renovation work. The project, nearly three years in the making, is designed to inspire a “transformation” of Downtown Jacksonville and secure the Jaguars’ future in Northeast Florida.

Highlights of the plans include a subtropical Floridian park leading fans to the main concourse, which will be elevated to 30 feet above the ground. The 360-degree concourse will be four times wider than before and will feature interactive social bars and a range of unique experiences.

The seating bowl flexibility provides for a base capacity of 62,000 with expansion capabilities up to 71,500 for college football, and more for concerts. The current fixed-seat capacity of EverBank Stadium is 68,000.

The Jaguars said the revamped stadium would be able to transform its appearance through lighting and digital technology that will create distinctive game-day experiences. Sustainability will also be a key factor, with the façade to be built with a first-of-its-kind mirrored material to reflect Jacksonville’s waterfront, vegetation and spirit.

The open-air venue will also feature a large shaded canopy that reduces heat retention by more than 70%, lowers temperatures by 10 to 15 degrees and protects fans from the weather. The façade will be raised at the northern and southern ends to optimise airflow, enabling passive cooling throughout the stadium.

Other features will include lookout decks offering citywide views, 13 new elevators and 32 new escalators, 220 new food and beverage points of sale, and 14 new restrooms.

Timeline

Under the plans set out yesterday, the Jaguars intend to remain at their home during the 2026 season, albeit with a reduced capacity whilst work takes place. It would then seek a temporary home in 2027, whilst the project is completed, with the Florida Times-Union stating that the University of Florida’s Ben Hill Griffin stadium in Gainesville and Camping World Stadium in Orlando are the two most likely candidates.

The ‘Stadium of the Future’ agreement would also give the Jaguars the option of playing one ‘home’ game per year in London, England, continuing the team’s long-running mission of tapping into the UK market. Lamping said the Jaguars would also be able to consider any request by the NFL to play a second home game away in a season as part of the league’s International Series.

The Jaguars’ current lease deal at EverBank Stadium, its home since 1995, is due to expire following the 2029 season. The financial deal for the revamp is based on a new 30-year lease agreement, with both elements now requiring approval from City Council and NFL ownership.

Deegan said: “It’s with great pride and excitement that we present this historic deal. In all my town halls and community meetings both before and after I became mayor, I have been very clear about my desire to get this deal done.

“It’s a crucial step in the development of a thriving downtown which generates the commercial revenue that will fund so much of what we want to do in neighbourhoods across the city. Jacksonville has the privilege of being an NFL town and this deal will ensure our citizens can enjoy the benefits of that privilege for decades to come.”