The Jaguars are proposing a $1.4 billion renovation of EverBank Stadium. | Jacksonville JaguarsThe Jaguars are proposing a $1.4 billion renovation of EverBank Stadium. | Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars are proposing a $1.4 billion renovation of EverBank Stadium. | Jacksonville Jaguars

Public hearing scheduled on stadium renovation

Published on June 13, 2024 at 5:30 pm

City Council President Ron Salem has scheduled a public hearing Monday on the renovation of EverBank Stadium as a debate continues over the community benefits segment of the stadium deal.

Salem is proposing to remove the community benefits agreement from the larger, $1.4 billion stadium agreement and consider it later though the city’s budgeting process.

Jacksonville Today thanks our sponsors. Become one.

A public hearing is required as City Council considers the stadium legislation. The meeting will begin at 5 p.m. at City Hall, 117 W. Duval St.

Under the community benefits agreement, the city and the Jaguars would put up $150 million each for nonstadium initiatives like renovating parks, workforce development, affordable housing, homeless initiatives and Jacksonville’s Eastside neighborhood.

Salem said he is hesitant to commit to that money without considering the city’s overall finances for next year.

Article continues below

Jacksonville Today thanks our sponsors. Become one.

“I am concerned about moving forward with this kind of spending without it going through the budget process,” Salem said during a meeting Thursday. “I want to see Mayor [Donna] Deegan’s budget. What is wrong with wanting to see her budget to see how this spending fits into that?”

Salem said he is committed to working with other council members to make sure funding for the initiatives is put forward as soon as possible.

The Jaguars initially proposed spending $100 million for community benefits but agreed to contribute $150 million if the city matched it. Jaguars President Mark Lamping said the team would stand by its commitment if the agreement is considered separately.

If the benefits agreement is removed from the stadium deal, it would likely delay funding for the parks for a few years, city officials said.

Salem did not specify when a decision would be made about delaying the community benefits agreement. It could come up at the City Council meeting Monday.

Aundra Wallace, president of the JAXUSA Partnership, spoke in favor of keeping the community benefits agreement in the larger package. He said the investments would have generational benefits for the community.

“Obviously the stadium deal is one of the biggest pieces of legislation and is a significant step for our city, but if that’s all that we do, we’re missing an opportunity to help spark and transform and change our city,” Wallace said.

The JAXUSA partnership is the regional economic development arm of the JAX Chamber.

The city distributed a news release Thursday summarizing support for the total agreement from community leaders. They included former Mayors John Delaney and John Peyton; former Sheriff Nat Glover, president of Edward Waters University; David Miller, co-counder of Brightway Insurance; Neptune Beach Mayor Elaine Brown; former Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver; JAX Chamber President and CEO Daniel Davis; and the Jacksonville Civic Council.

A recent University of North Florida poll showed 56% of respondents supported the stadium renovation package if the community benefits agreement were included. Support dropped to 41% without the community benefits.

The city’s negotiator, Mike Weinstein, presented details Thursday about the structure of the agreement. Weinstein said the agreement would focus on three areas: parks, countywide initiatives and Eastside initiatives.

The funding for parks would help to fill budget gaps for completing Riverfront Plaza, Shipyards West Park, Metropolitan Park and the flex field next to Daily’s Place, Weinstein said. A total of $10 million would go toward Riverfront Plaza, $24 million to Shipyards West Park, $12.5 for Metropolitan Park and $8 million for the flex field.

Money for the Eastside, workforce development, and affordable housing and homeless initiatives countywide would run through a seven-member advisory committee, Weinstein said. Two members each would be appointed by City Council, the mayor’s office and the Jaguars. One would be appointed by other members of the committee.

The committee would make recommendations to the mayor’s office, which would submit them to City Council for approval.

A final vote on the stadium renovation agreement is expected June 25. If approved, the agreement would need approval from at least 75% of NFL owners. Construction could begin as soon as February 2025.

author image Reporter, WJCT News 89.9 email Steven Ponson has six years of experience covering news in Jacksonville and Northeast Florida. Prior to arriving on the First Coast, Steven also worked in radio in Orlando. He attended the University of Central Florida where he earned a degree in radio and television. Steven has been a reporter, producer, anchor and board operator. Outside of work, Steven loves to watch sports, cook delicious cajun food (as any good Louisiana native does) and spend time outdoors.

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.