Mayor Alvin Brown, Jacksonville Jaguars President Mark Lamping, Gator Bowl Association President Rick Catlett and City Council members today announced that the City of Jacksonville and Jacksonville Jaguars have tentatively agreed on a plan to finance new scoreboards and other stadium improvements at EverBank Field.
Under the new funding plan, which will be formally introduced to City Council later today, the Jaguars will contribute an estimated $20 million toward the stadium improvements. The City will pay its estimated $43 million share through existing revenue sources already being directed to the stadium. As a result, the City's financial contribution will not affect the general fund budget that pays for important services like public safety, parks, and libraries.
"EverBank Field is one of Jacksonville's most important economic development assets," said Mayor Alvin Brown. "This agreement will make our National Football League stadium a world-class facility. It will enhance the fan experience for those who cheer on the Jaguars and come here for the Florida-Georgia game, Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl and other major events. It will attract new customers to the sports complex. It will help revitalize Downtown. This is an important step forward for Jacksonville."
"Everyone who attends an event at EverBank Field is going to fall in love with these improvements," said team president Mark Lamping. "We owe our fans nothing less than the very best in-stadium experience. This up-to-date stadium technology will give fans the best in video quality, real-time content, out-of-town game action, fantasy football statistics, multiple-angle replays and create a personality for EverBank Field which is distinctly Jacksonville. These upgrades will also enhance the fan experience of the Florida-Georgia game, the Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl, and will put EverBank Field in a position to attract additional major events to Northeast Florida."
"The upgrades to EverBank Field will significantly strengthen the Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl's profile within the college bowl system and position Jacksonville very favorably in the discussion of future sites for college playoff football games," said Rick Catlett, president and CEO of the Gator Bowl Association. "This is a game-changer for Jacksonville and we should all commend the Jaguars, Mayor Brown and the City Council for having the confidence and dedication to seeing this through."
The EverBank Field enhancements include the following innovations:
• New video scoreboards in each end zone, the dimensions of which will make them the largest of their kind in the world. • A new scoreboard control room equipped with state-of-the-art software.
• A new platform area in the north end zone with unique food and beverage offerings, interactive activities and North Florida-themed imagery and water features which will give EverBank Field a distinct personality and flavor consistent with the Jacksonville market.
Under Florida law, certain counties – including Duval County – have long charged a 2% tax on hotel guests to remodel, repair, improve, or maintain stadiums or other sports facilities. In 2009, through Ordinance 2009-817, the Jacksonville City Council created a Sports Complex Capital Maintenance Fund to hold the revenue generated from the hotel tax.
In 2010, through Ordinance 2010-493, City Council adopted legislation allowing the Jaguars to utilize part of the hotel tax revenues as reimbursement for annual stadium enhancements. For each of the last two years, the City has reimbursed the Jaguars approximately $3.5 million. Through this agreement, the City will now use funds previously utilized for stadium reimbursement to pay for its share of the stadium improvement project.
"In these challenging fiscal times, I was determined to find a funding source that would not increase the burden on Jacksonville taxpayers or impact our general fund budget, which pays for critical priorities like public safety, parks, and libraries," said Mayor Brown. "With this agreement, we have achieved both goals. The City has long collected this revenue from guests at Jacksonville hotels. It was already going to stadium upgrades. Now it will be invested in one of the most significant enhancements in the history of EverBank Field." If the proposed funding plan receives formal Council approval, construction of the new project will begin in January 2014 and finish by mid-July 2014.