The battle between the two companies trying to win a city contract to manage Jacksonville's entertainment and sport facilities is getting more testy.
Two high ranking City Hall officials are recommending that rival Global Spectrum take over management of EverBank Field, Veterans Memorial Arena, the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville and other facilities from Spectacor Management Group, which has managed the venues for two decades.
Almost immediately, lawyers for SMG filed a protest.
With a rival company making a serious challenge to take the win the contract, SMG slashed its base fee and offered a contract based more on incentive pay.
Despite that, in the first step of the city's selection process, a subcommittee recommended the contract go to Global Spectrum.
"We feel our bid is the most comprehensive for the city and brings the most opportunity for change," Todd Glickman of Global Spectrum said in a statement. "It really allows the city to get a fresh set of eyes on the complex and put a new marketing and branding program in place."
The two Public Services Evaluation Subcommittee members -- Chief Financial Officer Ronnie Belton and Deputy Chief Administrator Karen Bowling-- gave a slight edge to Global Spectrum, saying the Philadelphia-based company is more financially responsible than SMG.
Sports and Entertainment Director Alan Verlander with the Public Services Evaluation Committee recommended SMG. Verlander's recommendation however, is unofficial.
The recommendations of Global Spectrum provoked SMG to file a protest with the city.
"…SMG's comprehensive proposal was responsive to the specifics of the (Request for Proposal), unlike the response from Global Spectrum/Comcast which did not comply with more than a dozen distinct areas," SMG spokesman Misty Skipper said. "Given all of these facts, it is hard to comprehend how the subcommittee could reach a conclusion that Global Spectrum/Comcast's proposal was better overall for the taxpayers of Jacksonville."
Mayor Alvin Brown -- who ultimately will decide who gets the contract -- wouldn't be pinned down on which company he would prefer.
"Which organization is going to be able to provide Jacksonville and the taxpayers the best opportunity to market, to leverage to bring in all the resources and talent that we need to take Jacksonville to the next level," Brown said.
While Brown does make the decision, the city's lease with the Jaguars says the NFL team has to be in agreement with which company managed EverBank Field.
The team has already made it clear it wants to keep SMG -- a dispute that bubbled over in a public exchange of letters between owner Shad Khan and Brown.
The subcommittee's recommendation goes to a full committee, which will make a recommendation to Brown. The committee was supposed to vote Thursday, but that timetable was delayed by SMG's protest.
"It went through one phase, it will go through the second phase and then the third phase, and then they'll make a recommendation," Brown said of the committee. "And then I'll reach out to the Jaguars and talk to them about it."
SMG's contract runs through next spring.