Jags unveil 'stadium of future' with covered seats, a proposal critical to team's future

By AP News

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The Jacksonville Jaguars have unveiled conceptual designs for their “stadium of the future."

Jaguars Stadium Renovation Football

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars unveiled conceptual designs for their “stadium of the future” on Wednesday, providing a glimpse into a $1.4 billion project that would tie the team to one of the NFL's smallest markets for decades.

The proposal includes a 62,000-seat, open-air stadium under a translucent covering that's the equivalent of “wearing shades in the sun,” team president Mark Lamping said. It also includes a 360-degree concourse that’s four times wider than the current space.

Capacity could be expanded to 71,500 for the annual Florida-Georgia rivalry, the Gator Bowl, a College Football Playoff game or the Final Four. Pools and a party deck would remain in the north end zone.

The venture requires approval from newly elected mayor Donna Deegan, who takes over next month, and the city council. It's not a slam dunk, but the Jaguars are using a 50-50 financial contribution model similar to one that worked in getting an adjoining amphitheater built in 2017 and a new practice facility that's opening next month.

Although the city would be on the hook for the majority of the city-owned stadium costs, a substantial development to the surrounding area would bring the total project to roughly $2 billion. Jaguars owner Shad Khan would pick up most of the cost on the surrounding area, which is expected to include a University of Florida satellite campus that would bring in 10,000 graduate students.

“The assignment is no different than it was the first day that (Shad Khan) walked in here,” Lamping said. “He wants to make sure we do everything we possibly can to make sure we have a stable, consistently competitive NFL franchise in northeast Florida for generations to come.”

Lamping said he would like to get approval by next spring so the Jaguars could make a formal presentation to NFL owners next May.

The Jaguars have been in the bottom quartile of the league in revenue for decades and have played annually in London since 2013 to help boost their bottom line. The team's lease at TIAA Bank Field runs through 2029, leaving little room for prolonged negotiations and/or do-overs.

If approved, the Jaguars would break ground after the 2025 season and are already working on varying plans to play elsewhere for two seasons. They also could spread the build across four seasons and continue to play at TIAA, but Lamping said that route would cost an additional $190 million.

The most cost-effective plan would be to play at Florida Field in Gainesville or at Camping World Stadium in Orlando.

“The most efficient and the cheapest route is to do it over two years and go to a stadium that you don’t have to add a lot to,” Lamping said. “We’ve had conversations with both. We’ve given them the specs, and I think it’s fair to say that both would be interested assuming that the schedules would work.”

But Lamping was quick to point out that figuring out where to play would be a good problem to have since it would mean the stadium deal got approved.

The Jaguars believe a revitalized stadium would create more opportunities to host major concerts, music festivals and the NFL draft. They stopped short of suggesting a second Super Bowl, clearly aware that the city’s lack of nearby hotels remain an obstacle.

“We have reached the end of this important and initial phase of this project — the design of the stadium we envision will be the home of the Jacksonville Jaguars and serve our entire community for generations to come,” Khan said in a statement.

Jacksonville is the only NFL franchise that hasn’t built a new stadium or undergone substantial renovations since the team entered the league in 1995. Most recently, Tennessee and Buffalo approved deals to build new stadiums.

“We really want it to happen and we don’t want to leave any stone unturned in our ability to try to find a solution here in Jacksonville,” Lamping said.

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Author: AP News

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