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Jacksonville Jaguars reveal ‘Stadium of the Future’

Published on June 7, 2023 at 12:06 pm

The Jacksonville Jaguars have unveiled conceptual designs for what they call the Stadium of the Future, a renovation project intended to inspire a transformation of Downtown Jacksonville.

The Jaguars said the stadium plan, unveiled online Wednesday at 1stdowntownjacksonville.com, would “secure NFL football in Northeast Florida well into the future.”

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“We have reached the end of this important and initial phase of this project — the design of the stadium we envision will be the home of the Jacksonville Jaguars and serve our entire community for generations to come,” Jaguars owner Shad Khan said in a news release. “Our objective has always been the same: lock in a promising future for the Jaguars and help our Downtown become an economic engine to lift all of Jacksonville, particularly areas that have been underserved.”

The Jaguars and city of Jacksonville began work toward a long-term stadium solution in July 2020 with a engineering assessment of the current stadium, TIAA Bank Field. The assessment concluded it was possible to solve stadium shortcomings by renovating rather than building a new stadium.

The team also surveyed fans about what features a stadium should include. Most prominent among them was more shade over seating.

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The open-air design unveiled Wednesday features a large shade canopy that reduces heat retention by more than 70%, lowers temperatures 10 to 15 degrees and protects fans from the weather, the Jaguars said.

Among other features, the stadium would include:

  • A network of biking and walking trails, parklands, greenways, beaches and marshes. Fans would enter through a subtropical Floridian park, leading them to the main concourse. The concourse would be elevated 30 feet above the ground, offering views for Downtown Jacksonville and the St. Johns River.
  • A 360-degree concourse, four times wider than before, with interactive social bars and a variety of unique experiences alongside culinary delights native to Jacksonville.
  • Seating for 62,000 — slightly smaller than the current 67,000 — with expansion capabilities to 71,500 for a college football game and more for a concert.
  • Lookout decks that offer citywide views. A fritted roof membrane will introduce dispersed ambient light throughout the stadium interior.
  • Thirteen new elevators and 32 new escalators, 220 new food and beverage points of sale and 14 new restrooms.

Spark for development

“This transformation transcends the stadium’s boundaries. The design creates an iconic, accessible community nexus that ties together the surrounding neighborhoods and riverfront,” Peter Broeder, design principal for HOK’s Sports + Recreation + Entertainment, the project’s architect, said in the news release.

In an interview, Jaguars President Mark Lamping said the stadium would spark development in the east end of Downtown similar to the renaissance of the Brooklyn neighborhood to the west.

“What we want it to be is a 365 neighborhood,” Lamping said. Development around the stadium needs to have places where people can live, work and play as well as other amenities that will attract visitors, he said.

Iguana Investments, the development company controlled by Khan, is required to invest $447 million in the Shipyards Property, where Khan is building a Four Seasons hotel and residence, and the Miller Electric Center, the Jaguars training facility, which is expected to open this year.

If the University of Florida brings its graduate campus to Jacksonville, and agrees to build on the current Jacksonville Fairgrounds property, the Jaguars have pledged to help facilitate the move by donating $5 million to help UF’s local fundraising requirement and build a mixed-use neighborhood near the proposed campus.

The design announcement made no mention of the renovation’s cost, but Lamping said it could come to $1.3 billion to $1.4 billion. He warned that the final price will not be known until the team and the city of Jacksonville complete negotiations about the scope of the stadium. The Jaguars envision splitting the costs of the project 50-50 with the city.

A University of North Florida poll in August found that voters overwhelmingly oppose devoting public money to the renovation. Eighty-nine percent believed the stadium should be renovated, but 80% said the city should not split the cost with the Jaguars.

Mayor-elect Donna Deegan issued a statement Wednesday calling the stadium plans “a beautiful vision for economic revitalization.”

“Infrastructure, especially in our older historic neighborhoods, will be one of the key priorities of my administration,” Deegan said. “I look forward to the coming negotiations and a deal that is good for taxpayers which keeps the Jaguars in Jacksonville for generations to come.”

Over the next two weeks, the Jaguars will play host to a series of Huddle Up Jax events where residents and fans can learn more about the stadium designs. Lamping will be on site at the community meetings, which will be scheduled around town to ensure access for all of Duval County.

In other NFL cities

Mixed-use developments adjacent to NFL stadiums have become a part of stadium discussions for small-market teams like Jacksonville.

The Green Bay Packers, one of the three NFL teams from a media market smaller than Jacksonville, opened the Titletown Entertainment District in 2017 on 45 acres of land near the football stadium.

The Buffalo Bills have taken a different approach. The team’s chief operating officer, Ron Raccuia, told WBEN-AM in April that the franchise will look to provide content and events at its new stadium but will expect others to develop the property nearby.

The Jaguars have often compared their stadium situation to the Bills’. Both are small-market cities that have facilities the clubs believe have outlived their usefulness and had leases that expired this decade.

The Bills announced in 2021 that they would build a $1.54 billion new stadium next to the current facility, which opened in 1973. According to Western New York news outlets, New York State committed $600 million and Erie County $250 million. The NFL and the Bills would pay $550 million.

Construction began Monday. The stadium is expected to open in time for the 2026 NFL season.

Nashville, a city local business officials have used as a reference point, approved a $2.1 domed stadium that would include $500 million from the state of Tennessee and $840 million from the Tennessee Titans.

Florida’s two other NFL franchises have renovated their stadiums within the past decade without state funding. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers redesigned their club seating, created a 10,000-square-foot bar as well as improved its press box and locker room as part of a $160 million renovation — of which $30 million were public dollars.

In South Florida, the Miami Dolphins privately financed more than $450 million in renovations to Hard Rock Stadium, which included providing a canopy for all four sections of the stadium.

“There are a lot of audiences as it relates to this deal,” Lamping said. “The Jaguars cannot, simply, do an agreement with the city of Jacksonville. In order for us to enter into an agreement, we need to get the approval of the National Football League. We need to get the approval of the stadium owners committee. We need to get the approval of the owners finance committee. And, if we get through all of that, we need to get 75% of all the other NFL owners to approve that deal.”

Last month, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry mentioned the Jaguars would have to play elsewhere for two years while the stadium is renovated. Wednesday, Lamping said that was a possibility under a two-year renovation timeline. A different timeline would take four years to complete but allow the Jaguars to play home games at TIAA Bank Field., he said.

“It’s very important to put the Gator Bowl in a position where it could be a legitimate competitor for the expanded College Football Playoffs; to secure Florida-Georgia for years to come; to put the stadium in a position that it can legitimately compete for non-NFL events — whether it’s concerts, international soccer, other major gatherings — and put us in a legitimate position to attract a major NFL event like the NFL Draft,” Lamping said.


author image Senior News Director, WJCT Public Media

Randy comes to Jacksonville from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, where as metro editor, he led investigative coverage of the Parkland school shooting that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for public service. He has spent more than 35 years in reporting and editing positions in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio and Florida. 

author image Senior News Director, WJCT Public Media

Randy comes to Jacksonville from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, where as metro editor, he led investigative coverage of the Parkland school shooting that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for public service. He has spent more than 35 years in reporting and editing positions in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio and Florida.