Jacksonville up and hands Jaguars $45m in tax money, council calls this too good a deal to pass up

The Jacksonville city council unanimously approved $90 million in stadium upgrades for the Jaguars last night, half of which will be paid for by the city. The new crap will include an amphitheater, and an indoor practice field, and upgraded club seats, and a pony, and, and … okay, yes, I’m getting punchy here. Let’s just cut to an inane quote by a city official, shall we?

“We’re going to own $90 million worth of assets,” Councilman John Crescimbeni said at the meeting. “We’re going to spend 50 cents on the dollar to get there. That’s a deal that’s difficult to walk away from.”

But, but, they’re assets that the Jaguars owners will get all the revenues from, and half of which aren’t of any value unless you also own a pro football team anyway, and YARRRRGH.

Anyway, next journalist who asks me if the tide is starting to turn against sports subsidies gets smacked upside the head with a printout of all of today’s council votes.

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16 comments on “Jacksonville up and hands Jaguars $45m in tax money, council calls this too good a deal to pass up

  1. Any idea who is paying for these Petco Park upgrades? http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2015/dec/07/padres-announce-2016-petco-park-upgrades/

  2. Sadly, most local officials will do this without even requiring bribes:


  3. I would contribute to federal/state/local lawsuits over these issues (but I do not have much to contribute). Isn’t misappropriation of public dollars for private industry a crime, or maybe malfeasance of office or some other crime under federal, state and local laws – even if it is approved by government officials? How can the average American fight this corruption? There is no nearby harbor for me to toss footballs, basketballs, baseball, soccer balls, etc in to vent the anger.

  4. To give his incredibly stupid quote the most charitable interpretation, if you assume that a city Jacksonville’s size needs to have a publicly owned first class NFL stadium for…reasons, and the Jaguars just happen to play there, then I guess you are getting $0.50 on the dollar.

    So it depends on your assumptions. Over course they are idiotic irresponsible assumptions.

  5. KenzoJoe-

    The explanation is that we mostly pick our leaders based on their membership to one of two guilds, and that these guilds mostly exist to service a few special interests. As such the interests of the public at large are not that important, and the people are very sub-par as they are chosen for their ability and willingness to navigate these guilds rather than their decision making ability.

    Honestly democracy is a terrible form of government…except for all the others :)

  6. Mary – The laws depend on the individual states. However, if you’re upset about the money going to sports you should see what other private businesses get. The State of Missouri game Boeing $1.7 billion in incentives for a plant. The have them another $220+ million to keep a different set of jobs in the state.

  7. But San Diego City Council member Scott Sherman promised the Jags would move here after the Chargers left for LA. Hahaha.

  8. And they didn’t even have to threaten the city council with moving the Jaguars to London. Next up, international shake downs!

  9. Aqib, I am not defending the breaks to other businesses, either, but I could definitely find some subsidies to a business like Boeing more defensible as a positive, sustainable economic impact for regular jobs and the local, state, national and international economy than a stadium. I still think a root cause is the tax code.

  10. The Boeing deal is pretty indefensible, actually: http://www.goodjobsfirst.org/corporate-subsidy-watch/boeing

  11. We own enough pols behind the scenes to pretty much ensure that the tide will never turn, Mr. deMause

  12. I can tell from the rhetoric from friends in the local area that they eat that line from the councilman up hook, line, and sinker.

    I spent some time in the past week going through the City of Jacksonville Budgets. I will say one thing. They make it very clear where money comes from and where it goes. I don’t know if this is the norm, but the fact that they have funds set up for the different sports complexes provides some transparency.

    Here’s some quotes from a facebook thread I trolled on the matter:

    ” It is not aiding him, it is aiding the city to bring more events in. More events, equals, more money, more hotel rooms….. It is a win, win. Because Khan is putting up half the money for it and the practice facility. I mostly see the positives with current deal. Khan is trying to make Jacksonville a legitimate NFL city destination. Most people that do not know better, laugh at Jacksonville. Jacksonville is thought of like the stepchild out of the 4 major cities in Florida. Khan is trying to change that perception.”
    “The city is using the $45 million out of the city hotel bed tax money, which can’t be legally used for anything else that the city usually finances (such as police and fire). So it’s really taking money that was collected from tourists and investing it in a structure that will increase the number of people who come pay for hotels to see big acts at the amphitheater. It’s a win win and Kahn deserves the profit based upon his $45 million investment. This will do nothing but help the sad state that is downtown Jacksonville.”
    ” I totally agree. It is simple economic 101.”
    ” Are you saying the city cannot use the amphitheater or stadium to host events???? Please man…. How much do u think the Florida/Georgia game brings in, bowl games, concerts, soccer friendlys. It goes beyond the Jaguars man.”
    “(links economic impact study from the Jaguars official site)”
    “The hotel tax will also be increased to generate more tourism revenue. It’s shocking to see people against this. We have a billionaire willing to invest in the growth of the city and its not costing us a thing (unless you stay in local hotels periodically).”
    “It is a bed tax”

    Sigh… I really don’t know how to get the public to stop being sheep here.

  13. Beyond that, it is clear from the publically available city budgets that the city’s general fund is covering a portion of the scoreboard/pool upgrade debt. In addition, 2/3 of that Sports Complex Capital Maintenance Fund is now paying off the other half of those bonds.

    And the “It’s the law” rhetoric is circular logic. Every appropriation in the budget is determined by a city ordinance. As of two years ago, the Sports Complex Capital Maintenance Fund was for fiscal year upgrades only. It was then amended to allow for scoreboard bonds, and I’m assuming it has now been amended to allow for this. If they can write laws to allow for money to be appropriated that way, they can write laws to re-appropriate that money just as easily.

    I’m preaching to the choir, but it is so frustrating. Especially because the public only gets what the team feeds them through the media and politicians.

  14. The proposed FY17 budget is out, and indeed there is another $2.5 million going from the general fund to subsidize the Jaguars. They completely made the subfunds more opaque to obfuscate the funny business going on, but any promises that this money would only come from tourists are broken quickly.

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