JACKSONVILLE, FLa. – There is something that sets the Jaguars apart from every other team in the NFL. They are the only team in the league since their inception in 1995 not to build a new stadium or undergo a major renovation.
That fact begs the question: How long will it be before the team makes an actual pitch for the stadium of the future to the city of Jacksonville?
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“We embarked upon a plan a little over two years ago in partnership with the city and laid out a pretty stable process,” said Jaguars President Mark Lamping. “We’re working our way through that process. We engaged eight sports architects, to give us their concepts. We received preliminary responses on that just a couple of weeks ago. So, you know, things are starting to come together. But again, we don’t know what we’re going to build. And we don’t know what it’s going to cost. And until we know that, there’s really not a lot to talk about.”
Fans were recently sent a survey asking them to compile a wish list of things they would like to see in a stadium makeover. They were pretty united in what they wanted.
“Our fans want to see shade on the seats,” said Lamping. “Not surprising, they’d like it to be easier to get around the stadium in terms of the vertical transportation to get from level to level. They’d like the concourses to be wider, so they don’t feel quite as crowded. They’d like the lines to get into the stadium to be shorter, the lines at the restrooms and the lines at the concession stands to be significantly shorter.”
Lamping said right now there is no specific timeline for those renovations because the team doesn’t want to be held to a deadline that can’t be met. But he’s happy with the progress.
The Jaguars’ lease with the city ends after the 2029 season. And one of the big questions looming is whether or not the Jaguars will have a renovated stadium by then.
The team is looking to Buffalo as a barometer for costs. It, like Jacksonville, is a smaller football market and recently reached a deal to build a new stadium. Some estimates put a stadium makeover along the banks of the St. Johns River at $600 million to $800 million. Yet to be determined is the equation for how much the Jaguars pay and how much of the cost the city shoulders.
“Hard to answer,” said Lamping. “I can tell you this, you know, we’ve got construction going on over my right shoulder right here, we’ve got a lot of planning work going on across the street. And when people tell you that construction costs are going through the roof -- they are.
“So, you know, until you know what you’re building, it’s really hard to put a number on it,” Lamping said. “And again, if we’re looking at not knowing what the cost is, it’s really difficult to suggest what the city should do, or what the city can justify, and equally difficult to have the team say what they can do.”
Lamping agrees if the draft is successful in bringing players who help Doug Pederson bring a winning culture to the team this season and beyond, the community’s buy-in to making renovations will be a lot healthier.
He believes the Jags play an important role in the psyche of the community because they are not just a football team -- they are a business enterprise that put Jacksonville on the map in many other ways.