Sat. Jul 13th, 2024

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jacksonville City Council voted 14-1 Tuesday night to approve an agreement between the Jaguars and the city on a $1.4 billion renovation of EverBank Stadium.

That brings the Jaguars one step closer to securing the long-term stability of the franchise, with the final hurdle getting the agreement approved by 24 of the NFL’s 32 owners at the league’s meetings in October in Atlanta.

If that happens, construction is scheduled to begin after the team’s 2025 season concludes and will finish in time for the 2028 season.

“This is a historic day for our city,” Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan said. “As I said to the council, this is what we can do when we all row together and we focus on a goal together.

“Monumental. I think it’s generational progress.”

The Jaguars and the city have agreed to each contribute $625 million to the renovation, but the city also has agreed to pay $150 million over the next two seasons on maintenance and repairs to prepare the stadium for construction. That means the city will be responsible for 55% of the total cost.

In addition, the agreement calls for Jaguars owner Shad Khan to be responsible for cost overruns of the renovation as well as 80.4% of the game-day expenses.

In addition to the renovation, the deal between the city and the Jaguars also includes a 30-year lease that would begin once the stadium reopens and a non-relocation agreement, which would put to rest the relocation rumors that have surrounded the small-market franchise for the past 15 years. There also is a clause that limits the Jaguars to one home game annually in London unless mandated by the NFL to participate in an additional international game once every four seasons — and that’s only during the seasons in which the team has nine home games (every odd year).

The Jaguars have played a home game annually in London since 2013 (except for 2020 because of the pandemic). They played consecutive games in London last season, but only one as the home team. They are scheduled to do so again in 2024.

Jaguars president Mark Lamping said the team started the process working toward an eventual new or renovated stadium back in 2016 and Tuesday night’s vote was the culmination of eight years of work.

“The reason we started on it so early is that we studied those cities that had problems with their teams,” Lamping said. “Unfortunately there have been cities that have lost their NFL teams and they generally all have the same thing in common. It’s a smaller market. The team doesn’t have a lease tying them to the city and they have an unresolved stadium problem. And Shad’s commitment from the very beginning was to do everything that we could to ensure that doesn’t happen to Jacksonville.

“We’ve been spending a tremendous amount of time and resources, particularly over the last four years, and we’re thrilled that we could turn that goal. It was a goal that Shad had and that the community shared to keep the Jaguars here in northeast Florida for generations to come this evening. We’ve turned that goal into a reality thanks to the mayor and her team.”

The renovated stadium would be similar to SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, with a shaded canopy over every seat that would reduce the temperature by 15 degrees. Capacity for Jaguars games would be 63,000 but seating could be expanded to 70,000-plus to accommodate the annual FloridaGeorgia game as well as attracting other potential sporting events and concerts.

The plan is for the Jaguars to continue to play in EverBank Stadium with a reduced capacity in 2026 and then play the 2027 season elsewhere. Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on the University of Florida campus in Gainesville and Camping World Stadium in Orlando are the two options after the Jaguars eliminated the possibility of playing at Daytona International Speedway because of a lack of infrastructure.

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