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Jaguars Stadium deal worth $1.7 billion revealed, but some aspects are generating immediate pushback – 104.5 WOKV

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Stadium of the Future deal reached between the Jaguars and Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan totals $1.7 billion, but the mayor argues the investment is worth the price.

“Not only will it have a huge economic impact on Jacksonville, to the tune of $26 billion over the life of this lease, but the NFL has been adamant if we want to keep the Jaguars in Jacksonville, and we do, this stadium is a mandatory step,” Deegan told council members during Tuesday night’s presentation.

The only reason those numbers don’t add up to a perfect 50/50 split is because the city will have to pay $150 million in maintenance costs for the existing structure, so it would be on the hook with or without a deal.

The city of Jacksonville would contribute $925 million in total, while the Jags would contribute $775 million under the deal.

Both the team and the city would pay $625 million for the renovation itself.

Aside from renovation and maintenance costs, the team and the city would contribute $150 million toward community development projects.

Those projects will include a combined total of $125 million for workforce, affordable housing and homeless programs.

There is also $70 million for parks and $105 million for the Eastside.

The combined $300 million for community development is a welcome addition for some council members like Jimmy Peluso (D-District 7).

“It won’t just be a District 7 issue or the downtown area, or even the Eastside. You know, this is something that is going to benefit the entire city,” Peluso said.

The mayor characterized the investment as a way to make the deal work for everyone in the county.

“This is the kind of thing that if we invest in now and then the Jaguars continue to invest for 30 years, there’s no limit to what we’ll be able to do downtown,” Deegan said.

The agreement would require the Jaguars to assume responsibility for maintaining the renovated stadium.

The team would also have to foot the bill if construction costs exceed initial projections.

“The Jaguars are 100 percent at risk. Therefore, the city’s investment is fixed, unless it is under budget and then we equally share the under budget,” said Jaguars president Mark Lamping.

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But not everyone welcomes the proposed deal with open arms.

The city’s share of $150 million for community development is not feasible for Councilman Rory Diamond (R-Ward 13).

“This deal is exactly the same as last year, except now we have a new $150 million expense that has nothing to do with the stadium,” Diamond said.

Diamond also took issue with the proposed funding mechanism.

The plan would delay the police and fire pension’s ability to begin collecting its share of the half-cent sales tax by four years.

“We went to the voters a couple of years ago and said, hey, let’s extend this tax so we can take care of our police officers and our firefighters and their retirement, and now they want to postpone it for four years.” Diamond said. “That’s dangerous and just plain dishonest.”

But Mayor Deegan noted that the delay simply moves the collection start date to 2031, which was the original plan when voters approved the half-cent sales tax extension.

He promised that, in the end, the pension would remain fully funded.

“I think it seems too simple to them in some ways. He did it to me at the beginning. I wonder: can it be that simple? Can we save that kind of money and still do what we need to do? And the answer is yes,” Deegan said.

Under the proposed schedule, stadium renovation work would begin next February and be completed in time for the stadium to reopen in August 2028.

Council Chairman Ron Salem (R-At-Large Group 2) said he, at a minimum, expects the stadium renovation portion of the deal to be completed by the end of June.

“But not at the expense of people who are still uncomfortable with the agreement,” Salem said.

It remains to be seen whether council members will be able to quickly coalesce around a final agreement.

Lamping said he hopes the deal will be fully vetted by council before it is given final approval, but noted the clock is ticking.

Delays could increase construction costs, which could threaten hopes of closing a deal.

“Time is money and delaying this project adds no value to the city or us,” Lamping said.

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