JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - City Council voted 14 -2 on Tuesday night to commit $43 million of bed-tax revenue to fund upgrades to EverBank Field that would include making the north end zone scoreboard the largest of any football stadium in the world.
Councilman Stephen Joost, who asked what's to keep the team from leaving the Jaguars from leaving EverBank Field before the 15 years it will take to pay off the scoreboard, cast one of the dissenting votes.
"How do you explain to fire and police that you're cutting their benefits that we don't have enough money for those for like $43 million for stadium. How do you come up with $43 million and not have one assurance that they're not going to move the team," Joost said.
Mayor Alvin Brown says the money will come from existing revenue and will have no affect on the city's budget. The money would come from a 2 percent charge on hotel guests that has been set aside for the stadium.
"Part of the strategy is, just like anything else you want to make the investment for upgrades, that you maintain your stadium so you won't let it collapse," Brown said when asked if using this bed-tax money would not be available for maintenance. "That is one of the key things that we have to focus on."
Jaguars owner Shad Khan has pledged $20 million of his own money to fund the remainder of the $63 million project that will put up new scoreboards in each end zone, build new scoreboard control room, and a new platform with a water feature in the north end zone where fans can buy food and drinks.
The north end zone video scoreboard will be 52 feet high and 348 feet wide.
"A world-class kind of attraction, it will draw economic power to Jacksonville," Khan said last week.
Construction is set to begin in January and finish in July -- in time for the 2014 Jaguars season.
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