JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP)The Jaguars are working to shorten the amount of time they would play outside Jacksonville during a potential $1.4 billion stadium renovation.
Team president Mark Lamping has a proposal that would reduce the number of seasons the Jaguars are away from EverBank Stadium from two years to one.
It’s a significant change that should help ease some external angst regarding a pending project that would tie the team to one of the NFL’s smallest markets for decades.
“While it’s not final, we think there is the likelihood of a solution where we’d only have to be away for one season,” Lamping said. “That would answer a lot of questions because that becomes a little more normal. That’s what the (Chicago) Bears did. That’s what the (Minnesota) Vikings did.
“We’ve got some preliminary pricing. It’s a little more expensive than being away for two years, but it’s not exorbitantly more expensive. We think it’s probably reasonable. It’s still just a concept right now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we have something to share with the city the next time we sit down.”
The city and the Jaguars are scheduled to resume negotiations on the downtown makeover soon, with major Donna Deegan saying she would “like to get this done sooner rather than later.”
“I’d like to get this past us and move on to other issues that are important for our city,” Deegan told The Florida-Times Union this week.
Deegan also suggested that playing one home game a year in London – something the Jaguars have made clear they don’t intend to budge on – would not be integral to negotiations.
“I just don’t think it’s that detrimental for the city to have that game where people can see Jacksonville from another place,” Deegan told the newspaper.
The Jaguars unveiled conceptual designs for their “stadium of the future” in June. The proposal includes a 62,000-seat, open-air stadium under a translucent covering that’s the equivalent of “wearing shades in the sun.” The venture still requires approval from Deegan and the city council.
The Jaguars proposed a 50-50 financial contribution model similar to ones that worked in getting a $45 million amphitheater built next to the stadium in 2017 and a $120 million practice facility that opened in July.
Although the city would be on the hook for the majority of the city-owned stadium costs, a substantial development to the surrounding area would bring the total project to roughly $2 billion. Jaguars owner Shad Khan would pick up most of the cost on the surrounding area.
Lamping hopes to get approval by next spring so the Jaguars can make a formal presentation to NFL owners in May.
The initial plan called for the Jags to play elsewhere during the 2026 and 2027 seasons. But the tweak would allow them to remain in EverBank throughout 2026 with a reduced capacity between 40,000 and 45,000. The upper deck would be closed that season because ramps that bring fans up and down would be removed.
“We’d like to snap our fingers and have every game be played in Jacksonville and still get it done as fast as we can and at the lowest possible cost,” Lamping said. “But those two objectives aren’t compatible.
“So we kept pushing the architects and kept pushing the construction manager. Let’s see if there’s a way that if we can re-sequence some things, move some things around. … We’re still validating the plan, but as of right now, if you talk to the architects and you talk to the construction people, can it happen? They would say, ‘Yeah, we think it can.’”
The Jaguars are still deciding where to play in 2027. Daytona Beach, Gainesville and Orlando are preliminary targets, with Lamping saying playing NFL games inside Daytona International Speedway “would be a real spectacle.”
Playing multiple home games in London is a possibility, but it’s likely to be two at most.
“I’m really encouraged,” Khan told The Associated Press last month. “We’ve been working on this thing for seven years now, since 2016. We wanted to present a vision that’s reasonably well thought out and really have a discussion with some meat to it and not just a vision.
“The key point is the Jaguars are one small part of this. We do know some of the laws of economics and what have you in smaller markets, but I think this is much bigger than just the Jaguars.”
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl