Jacksonville mayor Lenny Curry has made a move toward the NFL’s Jaguars’ “stadium of the future” by filing a bill to split the cost of a $120 million athletic complex.
The bill, which enters the city council's legislative cycle Tuesday, could serve as the first phase of the Jaguars' plan for a new stadium by giving a place for coaches to meet and players to train during the football stadium renovation that will still be in the planning stage for a few years, according to a Firstcoastnews.com report.
Curry’s legislation would amend also the lease the city has had with the Jaguars since 1993 by adding the sports performance center to it.
One element of the deal is that the city and the Jaguars need to agree on an extension of the stadium lease that expires in 2030. However, if the team moved elsewhere, the city would be left with a costly complex of playing fields and building space without an NFL team to use them.
Over the years, some City Council members have argued that if the city is putting more taxpayer money into projects that support the Jaguars, that should come with an extension of the stadium lease beyond 2030.
Curry’s office views the athletic complex an initial step toward eventual renovation of the stadium.
“We see the sports complex as an integral first phase of what will eventually be a revamp of the stadium," city chief administrative officer Brian Hughes said in a statement. "When that happens, we will look at an extension (of the lease) for the stadium.” Hughes also said the legislation provides the city assurances of a long-term benefit.
Jaguars representatives have said repeatedly the team intends to remain in Jacksonville and they point to investments team owner Shad Khan has been making in the city as evidence he is in it for the long haul.
The proposal for the complex requests that Khan provide $60 million of the cost. If the complex ends up costing more than $120 million, the Jaguars would be responsible for paying anything above that amount.
Jaguars President Mark Lamping said if the legislation is approved, the Jaguars would want to start construction in January and open before the team's 2023 season.
Lamping said the planning process will take several years to complete.
For the sports performance center, the city would be the owner of the facility and would lease it to the Jaguars for a 30-year period at a cost of $100 per year with two 10-year renewal options. The Jaguars would be responsible for maintaining the building and grounds and paying for operating expenses.
The center would consist of an indoor playing field and two grass-covered outdoor fields that would have 2,300-seat bleachers for fans. Concession facilities and a team store would be at the site. The Jaguars would be able to sell concession items, merchandise and tickets at the performance center.
The Jaguars want a renovation to include providing some kind of cover that will give fans relief from the blazing sun during games at the start of the season.
A 127,087 square foot building would have office space for executives, coaches, football support operations, and scouts. The building would have rooms for equipment, meetings, weight training, and medical care.
When Khan unveiled the proposal on June 3, Lamping said shifting operations that are now inside the stadium to the performance center would enable the Jaguars to keep playing games at TIAA Bank Field during a future stadium renovation.