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Jacksonville City Council approves deal with Jaguars, Khan and Deegan

Jacksonville City Council approves deal with Jaguars, Khan and Deegan

Jacksonville City Council approves deal with Jaguars, Khan and Deegan

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Just over a year since the Jaguars announced their proposal for a renovated EverBank Stadium, eight months of negotiations with the mayor’s office and three weeks of marathon City Council meetings, the city agreed to a 30-year lease and financing agreement with the team.

In a 14-1 vote Tuesday, the City Council approved the largest development spending deal in city history with $775 million in stadium renovations and $56 million in a modified community benefits agreement. Council member Mike Gay voted against the agreement, saying there were “a lot of problems with it” and that the council needed more time to “look at it.” Council members Kevin Carrico and Terrance Freeman abstained from voting due to potential conflicts of interest with their jobs outside the council, while council members Rory Diamond and Ju’Coby Pittman were not present for the vote.

“I’ve had a few calls in the last few days and today we are the envy of the sports industry,” Ron Salem, the council’s outgoing president, said before the vote. “…We all worked together to make the process work.”

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Football fans and Jacksonville residents have been waiting to learn the inner workings of the deal for years, as it has significant implications for the future of the Jaguars franchise and the city’s financial health.

The deal will now head to the NFL owners meeting in October, when it must receive the support of at least 75% of team owners.

When the Jaguars first revealed their renovation plan last June, an internal memo showed an initial negotiating point in which the city would cover 67% of the stadium renovation bill. The return would be in a surrounding “sports entertainment district” in which Shad Khan, the owner of the Jaguars, would pay 86% of the expenses.

Instead, the city focused solely on the renovation plans and said the entertainment district would be discussed at a later date.

The next four years will bring big changes for some NFL fans: The renovated Buffalo Bills stadium is scheduled to open in 2026, the Tennessee Titans stadium in 2027 and the Jaguars stadium in 2028. Most of the Construction of Jacksonville will be in 2027, during which the team will likely play home games in Gainesville or Orlando.

The accepted agreement holds the city responsible for 55% of the stadium’s costs, which includes funding maintenance before construction begins, but not the cost of exterior work.

For the most part, the deal that Mayor Donna Deegan’s team negotiated emerged unscathed by criticism from City Hall. But the popular community benefits agreement was not as successful and the council’s conversation about how to fund the area surrounding the stadium is ongoing and will continue during the next budget process.

Still, the Jaguars’ investment is the largest in NFL history for a community benefits agreement.

The Jaguars initially offered $100 million over a 30-year lease term and increased their support to $150 million after the city proposed its own match to be spread over two years. Deegan called the investment transformative during town hall meetings to educate the public about the deal last month, but City Council members criticized the allocation before delving into their 2025-26 budget.

“We have a $1.67 billion budget every year and we spend four months going over it,” City Council President Ron Salem said at a committee meeting. “We are asked to allocate $300 million with two or three hours of debate. I think it’s wrong.”

The council decided to split the city’s share of the funding: $56 million is included in the stadium legislation and will go toward renovating Riverfront Plaza, Metropolitan Park, Shipyards West Park and Flex Field.

But the remaining $96 million originally earmarked to address homelessness, affordable housing and the Eastside neighborhood will be further discussed during the budget process beginning in August.

In May, a University of North Florida survey found that the community benefits agreement was the most popular part of the agreement.

Members of the Jacksonville Community Action Committee spoke out against the exclusion, saying the council was intentionally leaving out communities that may not even be able to afford tickets to enjoy the new stadium.

For every $3 the city includes in budget priorities, the Jaguars will match an additional $1, up to the $150 million contribution originally agreed upon.