After months of stalled negotiations over lease issues at Alltel Stadium, Mayor John Peyton and Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver emerged from 6½ hours of talks Thursday with a deal.
Their closed-door bargaining session in a suite at the Bank of America tower ended about 8:30 p.m. with an announcement of an agreement that required concessions from both sides.
"It took Wayne and I hammering it out," Peyton said. "I very, very happy this agreement accomplishes all the things we needed to accomplish."
The Jaguars disagreed with the city over electronic signage in the stadium, saying the team had installed them and deserved all the advertising revenue brought in, even during non-NFL events. The team said they needed other modification in the team's lease of the city-owned stadium in order to stay in Jacksonville, the second-smallest city in the NFL.
Peyton and Weaver were all smiles as they emerged from the meeting Wednesday's meeting.
"I think it puts to rest that the Jaguars are committed to this market," Weaver said. "This was the first step in making sure we can survive in a small NFL market until we grow in size. It gives us those number of years in order to do that."
"We're a better place because of the Jaguars, and, actually, we want them to be here a long time," Peyton said.
Highlights of the agreement:
- The city will pay to expand the size of those electronic signs, allowing the Jaguars to make more money off the advertisements.
- There will be six "clean days" each year when the Jaguars will not receive any revenue from the signs.
- The city will make an exception in the sign ordinance for Pepsi Plaza.
- The city will give the team an $8.6 million reduction in stadium rental over three years.
- The Jaguars will absorb more of the concession stand costs at the stadium.
While the deal breaks the stalemate and removes the implicit threat that the team could leave Jacksonville, both men say selling more tickets to Jaguars games is critical to the long-term success of the team.
In order to fill the stadium and avoid TV blackouts, Weaver ordered almost 10,000 seats at Alltel Stadium covered before this year began, but some games still have not sold out.
Less than one day before the blackout deadline for Sunday's home game against the Houston Texans, more than 1,000 tickets remain on sale.
- October 28, 2005: City's Negotiator With Jaguars Resigns; Mayor To Meet With Weaver
- October 27, 2005: Jaguars Increase Rhetoric Over Alltel Advertising
- October 14, 2005: Jaguars Say City Has 'Thrown Down Gauntlet'
- September 13, 2005: Jaguars, City Close To Stadium Lease Renegotiations
- July 21, 2005: Jaguars Looking For Lease Concession To Deal With Losses