UNF poll finds majority opposed to city splitting bill with Jaguars on new stadium

(AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton) (Stephen B. Morton, Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A UNF poll released Thursday shines light on what Jacksonville residents support and oppose, covering topics like elections, sports — and also the most important issues they feel Jacksonville is facing.

When respondents were asked about the latter, the most common response was crime (35%), which has often been the leading response in prior surveys conducted by the university. Although a distant second, 16% of respondents said improving downtown is a priority.

Furthermore, it shows that most of those polled are against the city splitting the bill with the Jaguars on a new stadium.

RELATED: UNF poll finds Jacksonville City Council candidates Howland, Polson in dead heat

While it’s gone through a lot of renovations and upgrades, TIAA Bank Field is now 27 years old.

Jaguars owner Shad Khan in December hinted at a new stadium or serious upgrades so that it can be a contender for some of the country’s largest events, like a Super Bowl or college football championship.

But it would cost big bucks — $1 billion, which Khan thinks should be split between the team and the taxpayers.

The data in the poll shows that 70% of respondents were opposed to the idea of splitting the tab, while the remaining 30% supported it. Of those who were opposed, 53% strongly opposed.

“This is bipartisan opposition,” explained Dr. Michael Binder, PORL faculty director and UNF professor of political science. “Republicans and Democrats were very similar in their opposition levels. This is not something that is a left or right thing. This is a we don’t necessarily want to invest that kind of money in a football stadium right now.”

Binder said the Jaguars’ dismal record under Khan doesn’t help.

“And it is a huge amount of tax dollar investment,” Binder added. “So it’s certainly understandable, for sure.”

On the topic of downtown, Binder said the data shows that it means taxpayers are hesitant to invest large sums of money in projects that could be a long ways away.

“Yeah, they’re concerned about downtown,” Binder said. “But when it comes down to putting dollars in versus what they’re getting out of it, that is really where the juxtaposition and the rubber meets the road, so to speak.”

Notably, the latest report from Downtown Vision shows there’s $4.7 billion in projects that are in the pipeline for the area, so growth is continuing.

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