JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The president of the Jacksonville Jaguars raised some eyebrows this week when he said that TIAA Bank Field will likely need to be upgraded or rebuilt in years to come.
The Jaguars have been quick to clarify this was in response to a question about Jacksonville hypothetically hosting another Super Bowl in the future.
In 1994, demolition began on the city's old stadium to clear the way for a facility up to NFL standards that would be the home field for the Jaguars. Construction took under 20 months and cost $134 million, $60 of which was provided by the city of Jacksonville. The stadium was completed in August 1995 in time for the Jaguars' inaugural first home game.
In November 2013, Jacksonville's City Council approved $63 million in improvements to EverBank Field, toward which Jaguars owner Shah Khan would contribute $20 million. Renovations included two end zone video scoreboards 362-foot-long that were the largest HD LED of their kind in the world, a platform area in the north end zone with two wading pools.
After that, Daily's Place Amphitheater and Flex Field were built.
Now, Jaguars President Mark Lamping is talking about whether millions of more dollars could be needed in years to come.
Lamping made headlines when he was quoted in the Jacksonville Daily Record, saying, “There’s no question that TIAA Bank Field has aged well ... But at some point in time, there’s going to have to be a stadium solution.”
The Jaguars pointed out that Lamping was talking about if Jacksonville wants to get another Super Bowl, which would take a lot more than an upgraded stadium but also improved hotels.
City Councilman Jim Love said there won't be upgrades at the Bank for a while, but there will be eventually.
"Their lease ends in 2030 and there’s talk about, maybe, a Super Bowl again. And to get that, we’re going to have to do some improvements," Love said. "The east side of the stadium is not covered and it’s pretty hot in the summertime or early season."
News4Jax sports reporter Cole Pepper said the shade issues is key, as well as everything from Wi-Fi to comfortable seats and shorter lines to get a beer, to draw people away from their TVs to the downtown stadium.
"TVs are bigger than ever," Pepper said. "You might have a TV that’s the size (of a wall) before too long, where you can sit there and watch the TV on an entire wall and the beer’s cheaper and you don’t have to worry about parking and you don’t have to worry about the guy next to you getting rowdy."
Football fan Sean Evans said he's in favor of a new stadium, even if it costs taxpayers money.
"Give them a new stadium," Evans said. "Taxpayers are fans. I'm a fan. Let's go."
But football fan Susan Hill said she doesn't think the stadium is a problem.
"It seems like a perfectly fine stadium," Hill said. "I’ve been to a few games and their season wasn’t so great, so maybe we should wait until they’re winning a little bit to think about that."
The mayor’s office released a short statement saying there have been no discussions on the stadium.
Below is the full statement from the Jaguars:
Mark Lamping participated in a wide-ranging panel discussion on Monday night on the topic of downtown development. His comments were made in response to a question about whether Jacksonville would ever be awarded another Super Bowl. His answer reflected both a long term need for stadium enhancements and the growth of hotel, commercial and residential properties in and around the Sports Complex. All elements are essential to the success of downtown Jacksonville. This is a sentiment he and the Jaguars have expressed many times before and will continue to in the future."
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