Mayor Alvin Brown said Friday morning that he and Alan Verlander, his recently appointed sports and entertainment director, will work directly with the Jacksonville Jaguars and team owner Shahid Khan, the Financial News and Daily Record reported.
"Alan Verlander is going to be my point person," Brown said told the Daily Record. "He and I will have contact with the Jaguars. I'm going to be dealing with them directly."
Brown spoke in the aftermath of reports this week about letters in which the city claimed and then withdrew its charge that the Jaguars defaulted on their contract at EverBank Field.
Daily Record news partner WJXT Channel 4 reported that within a day after the city backed off on a threat to cancel the Jaguars' stadium lease. Brown called it a misunderstanding.
"People know we are going to make mistakes. Things happen. There was a miscommunication. There was a misunderstanding," Brown told Channel 4 late Thursday afternoon.
WJXT reported that while the "mistake" might be legally resolved, it said the fallout is major from the rift that caused Khan to publicly wonder if he needed to find a new place for his NFL team.
WJXT reported that the city was working to make amends after publicly and mistakenly embarrassing the Jaguars by claiming the team was in default on its lease of EverBank Field because of its position in the hiring of the management company to manage the stadium.
WJXT reported that belying the stern tone of a letter to Brown that Khan released on Wednesday, the mayor released a statement Thursday saying the city and the Jaguars never had a dispute.
"We fully support our Jaguars," Brown said. "The Jaguars are an important part of the fabric that makes up our great city."
When asked Thursday why the city's attorneys were seeking to terminate the Jaguars lease, Brown said it was a misunderstanding "and I got right on top of it."
WJXT reported that Khan wasn't talking Thursday, but his letter to the mayor suggested that damage has already been done.
"The timing of the headline from the City's media activity could not have been timed worse for our ticket sales effort," Khan wrote. "The comments by City representatives and the story have created uncertainty and concern by our fan base."
Brown would not comment Friday morning when asked at what point he knew about the initial default letter.
The Florida Times-Union reported Friday that Brown knew in advance about the letter the city sent to the Jaguars last week that said the team defaulted on the contract.
Brown said Friday morning he wanted to move forward.
"We're going to work together. The Jaguars are very important to Jacksonville," he said.
"There's no greater fan of the Jaguars than Alvin Brown," Brown said.
He said his goal was to make sure such a misunderstanding "doesn't happen again."
"As I said to Shad, we're on the same page," he said.
In his statement emailed Thursday afternoon to "fellow Jaguars fans," Brown said he spoke by phone Wednesday with Khan.
"We will work closely together to move the City and the team to the next level of success. Mr. Khan and I will continue to talk and meet regularly so that we can make sure that the City and the Jaguars are always on the same page when it comes to making our community a better place," Brown's email read.
Brown said Friday morning he brought Verlander on board because of his background and expertise. "He needs to be involved," Brown said.
"Both of us are going to have regular meetings" with the Jaguars, he said. "As things come up, you pick up the phone."
He did not have a schedule yet for those meetings, but said Verlander was familiar with the team and its executives.
WJXT reports that the issue of what company will manage the stadium and the city's other entertainment venues remains.
SMG, which has had the contract since 1992, is seeking a contract renewal, but a competing bidder, Global Spectrum, employs two of Brown's friends, both of whom donated to the mayor's campaign last year.
WJXT reported that Brown said he had nothing to do with the city's seeking bids to compete with SMG for the contract.
"People will say those kinds of things, but at the end of the day, it's what's right for the taxpayers; what's right for the City," Brown said.
While the bids for the contract are sealed, Khan said the SMG offer saves the city $1 million.
WJXT reported that sources familiar with the deal say Global Spectrum's bid is 75 percent higher than SMG's. The city says the bids will be made public in mid-June.
A spokesman for SMG wouldn't answer questions about its bid, but released a statement to WJXT:
"SMG has submitted what we believe is a very competitive bid to manage the City's sports and entertainment facilities and we look forward to the evaluation process continuing to ensure that the taxpayers receive the best value on their investments."