Jaguars owner demands “major” stadium renovations, or NFL will shoot this team

Remember just last week when we discussed the $200 million-ish that Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan wants to subsidize a giant development in his stadium’s parking lot? At the time it seemed like a perfect example of the new wave of sports subsidy demands: If you can’t get public cash for a new or renovated stadium, then ask for a sweet deal on some related project, since that’s easier to fudge the numbers on.

Until Monday, that is, when Jaguars president Mark Lamping told the Florida Times-Union that oh yeah, Khan wants a renovated stadium, too, or else:

“If you’re going to be making a long-term extension of a lease, there needs to be certainty that you’re going to have an NFL-quality stadium during the term of that extension,” Lamping said. “That’s obvious, no different than when the Jaguars came to Jacksonville.”

Lamping elaborated on this yesterday:

“If Shad [Khan] were to ask fellow NFL owners and the league to approve a lease extension right now, there are really two questions that are unanswered that need to be answered before you even consider that,” Lamping said.

Lamping said 75% of NFL owners have to vote “yes” to any lease extension. One of those outstanding items, Lamping said, would be asking: “Does the stadium meet the needs of NFL fans and other stakeholders?”

These statements move the goalposts in a bunch of ways at once: They declare that TIAA Bank Field, which was opened in 1994, is no longer “NFL-quality”; that without renovations, the Jaguars won’t sign a long-term lease; and that if they don’t, it’s not because Khan doesn’t want to, heaven forfend, it’s those nasty old NFL owners that won’t let him stay in a substandard stadium. And, of course, that the team could leave town without stadium upgrades — Lamping said he wanted to make sure “that there will be NFL football in Northeast Florida for generations to come,” proving that he’s well-versed in the Army Protection Racket sketch.

How much money Khan is looking for as part of a lease extension isn’t clear. He just got $45 million from the city of Jacksonville for stadium upgrades in 2015, and Lamping said what’s now needed is a “major stadium renovation,” so presumably it would require a lot more money than that. Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry has already responded that he’s willing to talk:

That could be just boilerplate of course we’re willing to sit down and talk, but it’s still a slightly alarming response to the local billionaire doubling down on his under-consideration $200 million subsidy demand by asking for maybe a couple hundred million more, or else he’ll leave town. Sorry, or else the other NFL owners will forcibly remove him and his team, maybe to London? Did Lamping neglect to mention London? Oh well, there’s always next week.

Share this post:

5 comments on “Jaguars owner demands “major” stadium renovations, or NFL will shoot this team

  1. As a Jags fan, I’d rather Shad Khan be as invested in improving the on-field product as he is with trying to extract nine-figure subsidies… but beggars can’t be choosers

    I’ve long believed that the NFL wants of Jacksonville asap, and that it’s the endgame for Khan himself, and he’s just moving at a slower pace than what the other owners and stakeholders want to see

    We could point to any number of things that Khan has had a hand in since he bought the Jaguars franchise in late 2011: consistently fielding bad to terrible teams in a league that’s built around parity; showing an outlandish amount of patience to failing front office and coaching staffs; the return of Tom Coughlin, which eventually culminated in multiple complaints, player revolts, and the players union advising its members to not sign with the team; taking one home game a year to London under the guise of profit generation and making season tickets cheaper for local fans, then floating the idea of a second London home game before covid put a kibosh on it; buying a soccer club *in London*, just to fuel the fan paranoia even further (of note: the club has now been relegated twice from the Premier League under his watch); questioning the viability of Jacksonville as an NFL market while putting next to zero effort into building even a halfway decent team, let alone building a growing base of fans locally (or even nationally); proposing wave after wave of stadium renovations after the local government had already ponied up millions of dollars for development projects inside and outside of the immediate stadium environment; declaring said oft-renovated stadium to be not fit for NFL standards as the team itself closed in on its eighth 10+ loss season in Khan’s nine-year run as Jaguars owner…

    It does feel like Khan (or rather, the NFL) is trying to play both sides of the relocation game: give off the appearance to the outside world of doing everything within their powers to make Jacksonville work, while at the same time, constantly trying to drive people away from actually supporting the team (whether through an endless string of unwatchable games, or through the alienation of the local fans and sponsors). He seems to have an ally in the mayor of Jacksonville, although he gives off the impression of being a mark…

    I personally don’t see this whole saga concluding with the team staying in Jacksonville, which would be a truly brutal blow for the city given its status as a one-horse town that probably wouldn’t get another chance to be a “big league” sports town (e.g. Hartford for the last 20+ years). And if the team does end up in London — I can’t see them staying inside the US, given the cost of trying to bring a team in, and the potential cost of moving into another team’s territory — good look to those people. They brought us the Beatles, and all we have to give in return is a downtrodden pigskin sportsball team.

    1. “It does feel like Khan (or rather, the NFL) is trying to play both sides of the relocation game: give off the appearance to the outside world of doing everything within their powers to make Jacksonville work, while at the same time, constantly trying to drive people away from actually supporting the team (whether through an endless string of unwatchable games, or through the alienation of the local fans and sponsors).”

      I believe this is known in business-management circles as “pulling a Rays.”

      1. I’m eagerly awaiting yet another round of “moving to St. Louis” rumors, as it’s been a while since an NFL team has engaged in such actions.

Comments are closed.