Michael DiRocco, ESPN Staff WriterJun 7, 2023, 11:42 AM ET
- Michael DiRocco is an NFL reporter at ESPN. DiRocco covers the Jacksonville Jaguars. He previously covered the University of Florida for over a decade for ESPN.com and Florida Times-Union. DiRocco graduated from Jacksonville University and is a multiple APSE award winner. You can follow DiRocco on Twitter at @ESPNdirocco.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jaguars on Wednesday released an early look at a renovation of what they’re calling “the stadium of the future,” a multibillion-dollar project that includes developing the area around TIAA Bank Field and a critical piece of the franchise’s future in Jacksonville.
The base 62,000-seat open-air stadium includes a shaded canopy the team says will reduce the heat factor by more than 70%, a main concourse four times wider than the current one, and lookout decks that offer views of the city. The two pools, added in 2014 as part of a $63 million renovation, remain, as do the large video boards that span the length of each end zone.
The stadium can expand to seat 71,500, and the nearly five-minute video presentation included references to hosting music festivals, concerts, international soccer matches and tournaments, and potentially the NFL draft. It also included a brief clip of an NCAA Final Four, but no mention of potentially hosting a second Super Bowl.
The proposed renovation of the Jaguars’ stadium would include a shaded canopy that the team says will reduce the heat factor by more than 70%. 1st DownTown Jacksonville
The entire cost of the project — including the development of the area around the stadium — could be as much as $2 billion, with the stadium improvements costing between $1.3 billion and $1.4 billion, according to Jaguars president Mark Lamping. Lamping also said constructing an entirely new stadium, whether that’s on the current site or somewhere else in the Jacksonville area, would cost an additional $1 billion.
Per a memorandum of understanding the city and Jaguars owner Shad Khan would split the cost of the entire project (including the development around the stadium) 50-50 and that the stadium renovation could take as long as four years.
“What we’ve discussed with the city and what’s contained in this memorandum of understanding is we get to 50-50, but more of their [the city’s] 50% is going to have to go into the stadium because that’s what the league’s going to look at and more of Shad’s 50 is going to have to go into the development around the stadium,” Lamping said. “And when you combine them, you get to 50-50.”
The Jaguars’ current lease at TIAA Bank Field expires after the 2029 season. A new lease would need approval from the NFL and 75% of the league’s owners. Renovating or building a new stadium is expected to be a critical part of getting the approval.
If the city and the Jaguars agree on a two-year stadium renovation plan, the Jaguars would be forced to play their home games elsewhere. Options include the University of Florida’s Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and Orlando’s Camping World Stadium. Other sites mentioned include the nearby 11,000-seat baseball stadium that houses the Triple-A affiliate of the Miami Marlins and a 9,400-seat stadium at the University of North Florida, but Lamping said it would cost $125 million to add 20,000 seats to either facility to get them NFL-ready.
The Jaguars play one home game annually in London, and multiple home games in the United Kingdom also could be on the table.
If the team and city agree to a four-year renovation plan, the team could still play its home games at TIAA Bank Field, but Lamping said that would add an additional $190 million.
“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, which would either be Florida Field [in Gainesville] or Camping World,” 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.”
The team is hosting 14 events across Jacksonville over the next two weeks to allow residents and fans to learn more about the stadium renovations. Lamping said the hope is the team and city can reach an agreement by the spring and be able to present it at the NFL’s owners meetings in May 2024.
If the sides do reach an agreement on the project — which would require approval from the city’s new mayor (who takes office July 1) and the Jacksonville city council — it will cement the team’s future in Jacksonville for decades, Lamping said.
“The assignment is no different than it was the first day that he [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.”