New EverBank Field scoreboard prompts city funding questions

Scoreboard not included in city's budget

By Jim Piggott - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Mayor Alvin Brown's budget has not been scoring high points with the City Council.

Now as many are getting a closer look at the proposed budget, some have questions about programs not in it, but items the city might spend money on down the line, primarily a new scoreboard at EverBank Field.

So where is the city getting the funding to help pay for the $63 million scoreboard? Because it's not necessarily in the budget, the city is reworking the lease to see what could happen.

In 2005, the scoreboard was considered state-of-the-art and a win for Jacksonville. But eight years later, it's out of date. This new elaborate scoreboard would be part of a $63 million stadium upgrade, $41 million coming from the city.

That money has not been approved, and right now no one will say where it could come from, but it has people asking questions.

"They say they don't have money for the community programs, yet they have found money to purchase a new scoreboard and others for extravagances for the Jaguars," Eleanor Wilson said.

But the mayor's office says it has not found that money. Talks for a new scoreboard will have to be part of a new lease agreement, something it is working on right now.

Brown was on The Morning Show on Wednesday and was asked by Channel 4's Bruce Hamilton about the scoreboard and the flack it's creating.

"The scoreboard was not in the budget," Brown said. "People need to know that. The city made an agreement years ago when they bought the team in a contract to continue and improve the stadium. And that is what we are going to do. There is another way to work with Shad Khan and EverBank Field to make sure we upgrade the stadium."

One option still being considered is using bed tax money, a fee visitors pay when they stay in local hotels. The mayor's staff says it has not decided if that pot of money will be used for the scoreboard. It has set aside $200,000 in a special banking fund that is not tied to the budget that it could use on the scoreboard this year if needed.

Negotiations are underway with the lease agreement, and that will take City Council approval. From there the city will decide on a funding mechanism for the $41 million.

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