Jacksonville has no clue how to pay for Jaguars’ $43m scoreboards, costs could rise further

Yesterday morning I noted that the city of Jacksonville doesn’t know how it’ll pay for its $43 million share of stadium upgrades for the Jaguars; yesterday afternoon, a spokesperson for Mayor Alvin Brown announced that, nope, still no clue. And the city council seems to have taken notice as well, even if they don’t all see it as a big problem:

  • Councilmember Clay Yarborough told the Florida Times-Union that “at first glance” he doesn’t see how the city could close libraries and cut core services while spending money on humongous scoreboards for the Jaguars.
  • Councilmember Bill Gulliford said announcing the improvements and then figuring out how to pay for them later is like “sending the fire truck after the building is burned down.”
  • Councilmember Matt Schellenberg called it “a big win for Jacksonville,” but said he was “very concerned the mayor makes these announcements without having the backup financial information that everybody can look at and feel comfortable that it can be done.” But it’s still a big win, presumably regardless of whether it can be done.
  • Council president Bill Bishop said, “We have to stay current. We have to be sure we’re competitive, not only in the NFL but in the world. This is all part of moving Jacksonville forward.”

And the city’s costs could go even higher: Jacksonville’s contract for hosting the annual Florida-Georgia college football game requires 82,000 seats, which is currently met by adding 6,000 temporary bleacher seats to the 76,000-seat stadium. Since the Jaguars are looking to remove another 7,000 seats in the renovation — because NFL teams have realized they can’t actually sell that many tickets to an HDTV-obsessed generation, and they want to avoid blackouts — this would more than double the amount of temporary seats the city would need to set up, adding “several hundred thousand dollars” in annual costs, per the Times-Union.

Meanwhile, on Mike Florio watch, the NBC Sports NFL-water-carrier noted the lack of funding by linking to the Times-Union story:

Lost in Wednesday’s announcement that $63 million will be devoted to upgrading EverBank Field was one fairly significant fact.

The City of Jacksonville doesn’t know how it will come up with its $43 million share.

I guess that’s Florioese for “Oops, did I forget to ask how it’d be paid for?”

Florio also manages to argue that this shouldn’t be decried as “welfare for billionaires,” because “most of the teams trying to raid public coffers haven’t committed to playing one game per year for the next four years in London, with strong hints that the plan could be extended and expanded.” In other words, it’s okay to give $43 million to your local sports team for no good reason, so long as that team’s owner not only isn’t committing to staying in town, but might actually shift more games out of town even if you give him the money. Remind me not to go to NBC Sports for relationship advice.

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23 comments on “Jacksonville has no clue how to pay for Jaguars’ $43m scoreboards, costs could rise further

  1. If I was the city of Jacksonville, I would just stiff the team & say, “Why don’t you ask the NFL for a loan? You know Los Angeles could use a team”.
    What are the Jaguars going to do? Sue the city?

  2. mp34, unfortunately the last thing the city of Jacksonville needs to be doing is pointing to the western terminus of I-10. They’ve already dealt with enough relocation rumors as it is.

    The announcement, from watching it live on a stream (I’m a Jags fan (and yes we do exist, in numbers, in fact)), did offer very little in the way of financial details, though… as they tend to do. The only time I’ll play devil’s advocate with this is that the city does own the stadium, and not the team. It isn’t like the Panthers or the Dolphins asking the locals to pay for upgrades to their own venues. I suppose.

  3. PS: I did read a few Jags-centric blog posts about bed taxes being funneled toward the reno. But again, they didn’t really go into much detail beyond “yeah, this is how it will probably paid for, I would assume.”

  4. I hate to point this out, but Chicago IS big enough for two teams. What guarantee is there the Jags are staying if there’s this wonderful giant TV built for them?

  5. What guarantee is there that a dyed-in-a-wool Bears town would adopt a second NFL team in town?

  6. Also, where would they play?

    Anyway, since local TV revenue is essentially irrelevant in the NFL, there isn’t much advantage to being in Chicago over Jacksonville. Or Los Angeles over St. Louis, or Houston over Nashville…

  7. Since I’m in Chicagoland, I am pretty certain that a 2nd NFL team would not likely be well received. Would they sell out every home game? I doubt it. Not in this economy.
    Remember the Park District owns Soldier Field so they could host the Jaguars. Tho it would make an already terrible field even worse. Part of it is the November-December weather & all the high school football games & concerts they host.

  8. Neil, does that include team merchandise? But when does intangibles come into play when it comes to potential fan base size? Surely there would be numerous more potential fans in L.A. than Jacksonville. Or is having something like Steeler Nation all cross the country basically pointless if they’re not near Pittsburgh?

  9. Merchandise is a nice plus, sure. But compared to the hit they’d take by moving from being top dog in Jacksonville to a second tenant in Chicago? I can’t imagine it’d be worth it.

    Football is *totally different* from other sports. There’s a reason why the NFL has gone so long without a team in L.A. and hasn’t blinked, whereas every other sport has two or three teams in either L.A. or Anaheim.

  10. Ah, so “welfare for billionaires” is okay if it’s obtained via threat.

    Thanks for the clarification, Mike.

  11. Jaguars are heading to London. They are going to play at least 4 games there. London Jaguars will be a hit.

    The Jaguars were put in Jacksonville on purpose to fail. And be the first team to play in Europe. These things are always planned way -way ahead. The NFL knew putting a team in Jacksonville would be disaster and a failure.

    It’s amazing that Americans don’t catch on to the craftiness of these moves.

    The Jaguars could move into the NFC Easy very easily.

    AFC East


    New England


    New York.

    AFC South





    The only teams that are in the running for L.A. are the Rams, Raiders and Dolphins. Chargers are out of the race.

  12. Hey, welfare for billionaires is our raison d’etre. If we weren’t regularly extorting taxpayers all across America I think we might go out of business or something.

    Some think the day some city says “go ahead and move” when we threaten to move might be the day it’s all over for our game. But then we’ll just buy off the rest of the pols in town that we don’t already own, and suddenly they’ll “reconsider”, heh heh. Like clockwork, baby.

  13. Maybe they are out-crafting you as well, London Jags. I wouldn’t get my hopes up, but hey go ahead and get your hopes up and buy tickets to all four games. Khan and Goddell will be pleased to get so more Pound Sterling into the coffers.

  14. How did Jacksonville get an NFL franchise in the first place? Out of all other cities why Jacksonville? Who’s idea was it for Jacksonville to have an NFL team? No disrespect to Jacksonville. I just find it odd. Maybe it’s just me.

  15. Daniel, people only ask “why does Jacksonville have a team?” because the team has been irrelevant on the field for a long time. Tampa Bay and New Orleans were doormats for years on end until they actually became good teams.

    Either way, the biggest requirement for an NFL franchise nowadays is a new(ish) stadium with club seats and luxury suites. That’s why Jacksonville got a team over Baltimore the first time around. That’s why it still has a team while LA doesn’t.

  16. They also got a team over Memphis and St Louis, Kei. I guess Jax is not a place that very many people go to. It’s not even a regional destination, what with Tampa, Atlanta and Miami right there. But, Jax is still a major city and metro-area. Most people never go, and they hear horror stories, but they reality is that Jax is a much better place to live than several other NFL markets. Detroit is not a nice town. Neither is St Louis, or Baltimore, or New Orleans. I know that those areas are larger than Jax, but look at this photo…How many non-cities look like that? http://photos.metrojacksonville.com/Transit/JaxPort/i-7VkCS4Q/0/L/DSC_0057-L.jpg

  17. London Jaguars, the NFL is not going to realign their divisions if the Jags moved to London. It doesn’t matter if the Jags moved to Japan, Australia or India – they’re staying in the AFC South because the Pats, Jets, Bills & Dolphins have history – just like the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East. Rivalries are more important than being geographically tidy.

  18. London would need to build them a stadium first. Wembley is oversized, and once the novelty wore off, they would be tarping off seats again. Also, I can’t imagine the NFL wanting to be second-fiddle to another sport in one of its stadiums. Not everyone in England is stupid, and it would only be a matter of time before they realized. Hell, this isn’t our team. This isn’t our league. All of the other teams play over there. “Our” team is just another one of “their” teams, that happens to be based over here, because we have a valuable currency. Not gonna happen. But, look they got London Jags money. That’s all it was about.

  19. Many people blindly assume that City X is a dump because it’s not as big as the NY’s and LA’s of America, or because its skycam shots and night lights aren’t as spectacular as Miami’s or Seattle’s, or (most idiotically) because its sports teams are awful.

    Jax has its share of sewers, but having gone there a number of times, I honestly feel like it’s an underrated town that gets a bad rap. Most of the people knocking it have never been there before.

  20. Btw, is it just a coincidence that all these London talks are heating up in the NFL-osphere at the same time that every LA stadium plan is close to drawing its last breath?

  21. Sort of funny that the council members would be surprised. Their president, Bill Bishop, was standing next to Jaguars owner Shad Khan when the announcement was made.

    If anything, I thought Khan would get credit on this site for paying for 1/3 of the cost and taking on any cost overrun.

  22. I’ll give Khan credit as soon as I get credit for paying 1/3 of my restaurant bill and offering to cover dessert, too, if I’m hungry.

  23. This is only a matter of dotting some i’s and crossing some t’s. These are just some “fiscal conservatives” trying to squawk about a Dem mayor. The deal will get done and construction will start in January.

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