Jacksonville, Florida – Negotiations for the renovation of the Jaguars’ stadium in Jacksonville are underway, but the details are still being hashed out. The project, initially proposed to cost taxpayers over a billion dollars, seems likely to be scaled down.
Lead negotiator, Mike Weinstein, mentioned that the stadium district initially planned as part of the project has been taken off the table. The negotiations are focused solely on the stadium, with no serious discussions about the surrounding property, which is within a Community Redevelopment Area and would require various legal procedures.
The original proposal included ambitious plans for a sports district along with extensive stadium improvements. However, the actual cost of the stadium is still unknown as it has not been fully designed. This has prompted the city to explore alternative financing options, including leveraging assets from the Police and Fire Pension Fund and the General Employees pension fund.
Weinstein also mentioned a possibility of the pension funds investing a small percentage in the city, with the city guaranteeing principle and interest at their AAA return target. This approach could potentially save the city from paying fees and other costs associated with conventional financing through the bond market.
In addition, the city is considering shifting the ½ penny sales tax currently allocated to Better Jacksonville Plan repayment to pay down the city’s legacy defined benefit pension plan. This move is part of a pension reform agreement entered by the previous administration.
It is anticipated that a deal will be ready to present to the City Council by the summer, marking a transition point between the presidencies. The negotiations, however, remain separate from ongoing labor negotiations with public safety unions.
Despite tensions between the Mayor’s Office and the current President, the expectation is for an agreement to be reached, as both the city and the Jaguars are committed to finding a resolution. The negotiations have been described as congenial and promising by parties involved.