Jaguars’ costly stadium plan likely faces a long road

The price cities are paying to build stadiums for NFL teams keeps going up and up and up.

With the help of state funds, New York kicked in $850 million for the Bills’ new stadium and Tennessee put up $1.2 billion for the Titans’ new stadium, although one candidate is running for mayor in August on a platform of trying to scale down the project.

Now it is Jacksonville’s turn. Since they entered the league in 1995, every other team has either built a new stadium or had a major renovation. Naturally, the Jaguars want to join the parade.

Since Jacksonville is one of three teams in the state of Florida – the Bills and Titans are the only teams in their states – they can’t get state funding.

Still, the Jaguars’ proposed stadium renovation will cost in the $1.3 billion to $1.4 billion range, with the city paying 67 percent. The development around it will cost between $550 million and $680 million, with the city paying 14 percent. It adds up to a $2 billion project with Jacksonville paying half. At least that is the Jaguars’ proposal.

The Jaguars also want to keep playing a game in London every year, although having a new stadium means they would no longer get extra revenue from playing a home game in London every year. Whether the Jaguars would give up the London game will be part of the negotiations.

The Jaguars also want to play in a different stadium for two years while the new stadium is being renovated. They could do it in four offseasons and keep playing in their stadium but that would raise costs. Orlando, Gainesville or the Daytona International Speedway are alternatives. Or they could add seats either to the Jumbo Shrimp baseball stadium or the University of North Florida Stadium.

The Jaguars call it the Stadium of the Future, and the renderings are impressive with a high-tech covering to protect fans from the blistering heat in September.

But is is always about the money, and the cost will be the big problem.

Jacksonville is a small market with the lowest property tax in the state, and the question is whether they can afford it.

The annual city budget is about $1.5 billion, and about half goes to the police department. Raising the property tax to help fund the project probably isn’t feasible. And a new mayor, Donna Deegan, takes over July 1 and said she will hire negotiators to try to hammer out a deal with the Jaguars.

Mike Clark, who used to be an editorial writer for the Times-Union, wrote on that the city probably only has the revenue to bond about $500 million. And he noted that according to Forbes, the Jaguars were the eighth-most profitable team even though they are a low-revenue team.

All this sets the stage for what should be tough negotiations on both sides. They likely will take months if not longer, although the Jaguars want a deal by next March to present to the NFL.

The Jaguars claim they have to start putting up a million a month starting in October to keep on the current schedule. They say they have already paid $2.5 million since starting the plans back in 2015.

So that is where things stand now. The Jaguars and city officials may have to fasten their seatbelts.

It could be a rocky ride.

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