Jaguars unveil "stadium of the future" whose cost could hit $1.4 billion

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The Jacksonville Jaguars showcased the team's vision for a dramatic overhaul of TIAA Bank Field that would wrap it in reflective material, build a shade-delivering roof that fans have long demanded, and make numerous other changes that team owner Shad Khan said would make it the Jaguars’ long-time home and spur downtown development.

The rough estimate for the cost of the top-to-bottom renovation of TIAA Bank Field could be up to $1.4 billion. The city and Khan would share the expense if they can reach an agreement on the stadium and an accompanying extension of the team’s lease for playing at the city-owned stadium.

The Jaguars laid out a timeline that would have the rebuilt stadium ready for football in 2028. But any deal would require intense negotiations between the Jaguars and incoming mayor-elect Donna Deegan. Ultimate approval would be up to a new City Council taking office July 1 for four-year terms.

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"It's a beautiful vision for economic revitalization,” Deegan said in a statement after the Jaguars posted an animated video of its design. “Infrastructure, especially in our older historic neighborhoods, will be one of the key priorities of my administration. 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."

The city has financed renovations on a smaller scale at the stadium since it was built in 1995. The negotiations this time will have more at stake because the current lease for the Jaguars to use TIAA Bank Field will end after the 2029-30 season unless extended.

“There’s going to be a lot of give and take, and the lease negotiations will be happening at the same time as the negotiations on the renovation,” Jaguars President Mark Lamping said. “We would not invest the amount of money that Shad is prepared to invest in the city-owned building without a lease extension, nor would the city.”

He said he expects the Jaguars and the city will reach an agreement on the stadium and the lease.

"I have a lot of confidence that Mayor Deegan shares the same belief we do which is the Jaguars are really important to Jacksonville, and Jacksonville is really important to the Jaguars," he said.

How much could the overhaul cost?

The stadium would be the most expensive civic building in city history, dwarfing the $350 million Duval County Courthouse complex.

A proposed memorandum of understanding between the city and Khan would establish a framework for future negotiations on a stadium deal.

Another document, also first reported by Florida Politics, shows how that framework might work in terms of dollars put up by the city, the Jaguars and Khan’s development firm Iguana Investments.

That document shows a rough estimated cost between $1.2 billion to $1.4 billion for the extensive improvements to the stadium. In the example of how the city and Khan could split that cost, the city share would be 67% of the price, or a range of $800 million to $934 million. The Jaguars would pay the rest of the bill.

Compared to the cost of renovating the existing stadium, the investment summary says the estimated cost of a new stadium would be $1.9 billion to $2.1 billion.

The Jaguars also want to team up with the city in creating an entertainment district outside the stadium.

The rough estimate for the cost of that district would be $500 million to $668 million. Khan would pay 86% of that cost for the entertainment district, or between $475 million and $568 million, according to a summary showing how the cost could be broken down.

Taken together, the total cost of the "reimagined stadium" and the entertainment district would clock in between $1.75 billion and $2.068 billion, according to the investment summary example.

The city's portion of that total package would be $875 million to $1.034 billion, or 50% of the entire venture.

Khan and the city also have been in talks about a proposed University of Florida graduate campus being built in the sports complex if UF were to select the site where the Jacksonville fairgrounds is located. The city and the fairgrounds association have reached an agreement for the fairgrounds to move to a Westside regional park.

Khan has a pending contract to purchase the fairgrounds property. The proposed memorandum of understanding shows Khan would donate the 14-acre site to the University of Florida if it chose that location.

What would the renovated stadium look like?

Even a renovated stadium would create a brand-new appearance, based on renderings and the video illustrating the conceptual design by HOK, the architectural firm selected by the Jaguars.

The Jaguars released a 4-minute video Wednesday that shows swooping animated views of what the “reimagined stadium” would look like inside and outside the venue.

"This venue is much more than just a stadium," the narrator says. "It's a reflection of our city and community, celebrating the essence of who we are while casting a vision of who we're becoming."

Peter Broeder, design principal for HOK, called it a “transformational opportunity” whose impact reaches into the rest of downtown and surrounding neighborhoods.

The most obvious difference is the addition of a roof that would protect fans from scorching sun in early-season games as well as rainstorms throughout the year. Broeder compared the “roof membrane” to the finish on sunglasses in how it will disperse sunlight throughout the interior of the stadium. It would be a fixed roof, not a roof that can be opened and closed.

The exterior of the stadium would be wrapped by a “first-of-its-kind mirrored material” that will provide an energy-efficient facade, according to the Jaguars. The stadium would not have air conditioning, but the material used in constructing the building would cut heat retention by 70% and lower temperatures by 10 to 15 degrees.

The reconstruction of the stadium also would open four corners of the building to create breezeways so more air can circulate through the stadium. Broeder said the construction will remove a large amount of the seating bowl "in a surgical fashion" for those four breezeways.

“We’re going to be protecting from the sun and from the rain, but we’re going to be maximizing air flow throughout the building,” Broeder said.

Fans would enter the stadium by walking through a “subtropical Floridian park” on their way to the main concourse, which would be 30 feet above the ground and have wide-open views of the St. Johns River and downtown, according to the Jaguars.

The stadium would have capacity for 62,000 fans for Jaguars games and could expand to 71,500 seats for college football games, plus more capacity for concerts. The capacity now for Jaguars games is about 67,000 fans and that can go up to 77,000 for a college game.

Lighting and digital technology would enable changes in the stadium’s appearance, adding to that part of the fan experience.

The stadium’s concourses would be greatly expanded and have 13 new elevators and 32 new escalators, making it easier for fans to move around the stadium. The upper concourse would circle the entire stadium.

A conceptual rendering shows the vision for renovations to TIAA Bank Field, the home of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
A conceptual rendering shows the vision for renovations to TIAA Bank Field, the home of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

What would the surrounding development entail?

In addition to the stadium, the Jaguars also are interested in creating an entertainment district next to the stadium. The Jaguars previously sought to do that on parking Lot J but fell short of getting the super-majority support by City Council on a development that would have built restaurants, bars, apartments and a hotel.

Lamping said the entertainment district would foster the same kind of development in the sports complex that the Brooklyn neighborhood has seen on the other side of downtown, creating a kind of “barbell” approach to downtown development that would continue into the core of downtown from both ends.

Khan said in a statement that throughout a process that started in July 2016 with discussions about the stadium's future and advanced to conceptual designs, “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 off Jacksonville, particularly areas that have been underserved.”

When the City Council balked at the Lot J development, opponents praised the concept but said the city’s cost was too high given other needs for taxpayer dollars.

The same debate could play out regarding the stadium because unlike stadiums for other NFL teams that benefitted from huge commitments of state tax dollars, Florida legislators have staunchly opposed using state dollars for stadiums used by professional sports teams.

What is the projected timeline?

The “early work” for construction would begin in February 2025 and full construction would kick off in February 2026, according to the proposed memorandum of understanding. Construction would finish in July 2028, so for two seasons, the Jaguars would not play home games at the stadium.

Lamping said possible alternative sites during those two years would be to play Jaguars home games at the University of Florida’s stadium in Gainesville or Camping World Stadium in Orlando. To keep playing the games in Jacksonville, it would cost $125 million to $130 million to make the baseball park at the sports complex or Hodges Stadium at the University of North Florida able to host an NFL game.

The two-year construction timeframe would require the Florida-Georgia games to play elsewhere in 2026 and 2027 but then come back to Jacksonville in 2028. The annual Gator Bowl also would move to a temporary location during the construction.

Lamping said construction that’s done in a way that enables Jaguars games to still be played at TIAA Bank Field would require work to start and stop over a longer, four-year period. He said in that scenario, the stadium might have limited capacity until the job is done and it would add around $190 million to the bottom-line cost.

“From the Jaguars perspective, we would like to see it done in the least disruptive, shortest, least expensive fashion, and that would be to do it over two years,” Lamping said. “But again, that’s just us. There are many other people that need to weigh in on this.”

What's next?

Lamping said the NFL owners, who must approve any agreement between the city and the Jaguars, will be looking at the history of what the local share of funding has been for recent stadium deals in other small-market cities.

“We know what we want to build,” Lamping said in reference to the public release of HOK’s conceptual design. “You saw it today and we have a good idea of what it’s going to cost. It's going to cost somewhere between $1.3 and $1.4 billion. But we don’t know that’s what the city wants and we don’t know that’s what the community wants.”

Starting next Monday, the Jaguars will host 14 town hall meetings over 10 days across the city. Those meetings will share details with residents and get their feedback.

In the schedule put forward by the Jaguars, the team and the city then would seek to have a final agreement hammered out by March 2024 and NFL approval by May for how to proceed with the stadium.

This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: Jacksonville Jaguars show plan for stadium with shade cover