Sound off: Would you want the Jags to spend 2 years away from town, or 4 years playing during construction?

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‘Stadium of the Future’: Jaguars reveal renovation plans in online presentation (News4JAX)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Two years away from Jacksonville or four years playing in a construction zone?

The Jaguars “Stadium of the Future” comes with two very prominent and costly choices. So, what do those options look like?

When the Jaguars unveiled renderings and a conceptual plan for a state-of-the-art TIAA Bank Field on Wednesday, it put in motion what should be a transformative — and challenging — time for the city. The Jaguars will ask for roughly a billion dollars in taxpayer money to turn those renderings into a revamped stadium and sports district downtown.

But for the sake of conversation, let’s remove the negotiations aspect and just focus on the timeline plan — two years away from Jacksonville or have Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne dodging construction cones for four years while TIAA Bank Field gets a makeover.

What are the differences between the two plans?

“If you choose to have the renovation extend over four seasons, then you can continue to play Jaguar games during that renovation. That’s going to increase the cost by close to $200 million. So there’s a choice to be made,” Jaguars team president Mark Lamping said.

“You know, do you want to have the Jaguars play outside of the stadium for a couple of years and then come back to a new stadium, saving the city money in the process and reducing the cost of the project? Or do you want to have all the games played in the stadium, which then would take four seasons and would cost a couple hundred million dollars more?”

Gallery: ‘Stadium of the Future’ renderings

If Jacksonville opts to go with the shortest possible timeline for its revamped TIAA Bank Field — 30 months — it would force the Jaguars to relocate to play their games. That means Jacksonville fans would miss out on seeing 18 home dates (15 regular season, three preseason) over the 2026-27 seasons as construction happened.

That’s a serious downside, especially if those games are played an hour or more away from Jacksonville. The team has kicked around options like Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Camping World Stadium in Orlando, as well as venues like Daytona International Speedway and Municipal Stadium in Volusia County. If the Jaguars elected to stay in Jacksonville during that 30-month renovation, they would have to retrofit and find a venue capable of hosting NFL games for two seasons. Places like UNF or the Baseball Grounds could be in consideration under that plan, but, at a steep cost.

“You’d have to find someplace temporary to play in Jacksonville which comes with a big price tag, probably over $125 million,” Lamping said.

The other alternative probably sounds more appealing to local fans — the Jaguars stay at TIAA Bank Field while construction takes place over a four-year period. That plan comes with its own set of issues to navigate.

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“Those games in those four years would be played basically in a stadium that’s under construction,” Lamping said. “It keeps the games in downtown Jacksonville, but it comes with a hefty price tag probably around $190 million more expensive to do it that way.”

Lamping said if the Jaguars built a new stadium, it would likely double the cost to $2 billion.

“This is the least disruptive way to go, we think, and it’s also the least expensive,” Lamping said of the renovation of the current stadium.

The Miami Dolphins’ Hard Rock Stadium underwent a significant renovation over the 2015, ‘16 and ‘17 offseasons, a project handled by HOK, the group handling Jacksonville’s project. It was far smaller in size ($350 million compared to potentially $1.4 billion here), but it was doable. The downside of playing in a stadium under construction across four offseasons instead of two — cost.

When Mayor Lenny Curry first broached the potential stadium deals, Lamping said it was missing significant components.

“When that discussion came out, it was without the complete story. People didn’t know that it’s going to cost upwards of $200 million more to do it over four years over two years,” Lamping said. “They didn’t know that those games during four years are going to be in a stadium under construction.”

So what do you think the team and the city should do? Tell us in the form below.

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.