JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – City leaders are looking to the future after Jaguars coach Urban Meyer was fired before the end of his first season with the team.
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry told News4JAX on Thursday that he believes Jaguars owner Shad Khan got to the point where he felt like this was the best decision for the team.
“I think that Shad is trying to get this thing right,” the mayor said at the annual Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department holiday party.
Curry said the concern now should be the future of the franchise and the development of quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft.
“All you can do is turn the page and move on to the next chapter,” he said. “We’ve got a great quarterback, should be a franchise quarterback. You need the right people around him to develop him. Frankly, I’m excited about the future.”
While offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell has been named interim head coach, one of the main questions being asked is who will be Jacksonville’s future head coach? But there’s also the question of what does all of this mean for the future of TIAA Bank Field? Could it include stadium improvements or updates?
Earlier this week, Khan, while reflecting on his 10 years of ownership of the franchise, talked about what needs to happen in order to make the stadium a class act not only for the NFL but for college playoff games, as well. The Jaguars believe the bowl structure of the stadium is OK, but changes need to be made, including additional seating, shad on all seats and wider concourses.
Curry said these changes are vital.
“The city is going to have to do stadium improvements at some point,” Curry said. “Whether or not we can get that done by the time I leave office — I mean I am open to the discussion, I recognize how important it is. We’ll just have to see how that goes in the next year and a half.”
Jacksonville City Council President Sam Newby agrees.
“If it makes sense for Jacksonville, I’m going to support it,” Newby said.
It seems other council members will follow suit.
“I think it’s a great idea for us to start having a conversation so the next mayor in 2023 and the next City Council in 2023 will know exactly what they will be on the hook for,” said City Councilman Garrett Dennis.
But given the losing record this year and the firing of Meyer, one City Council member said it could be tough for Khan to sell taxpayers on the upgrades.
“This makes it a little bit harder. I don’t think it changes our resolve or his resolve for having a signature stadium here in Jacksonville,” said City Councilman Michael Boylan.
Boylan said he doesn’t see a new stadium happening.
“(Jaguars President) Mr. (Mark) Lamping has made it very clear that we got good bones in the stadium and that some improvements are needed, but in terms of a new stadium, I don’t see that as a reality,” Boylan said.
City Councilman Reggie Gaffney said Khan is sending a message with Meyer’s firing.
“He is saying to the city of Jacksonville that, ‘I made a mistake and I want to get it right,’” Gaffney said.
Right now, there are no stadium plans, only talk.