JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – If the “Stadium of the Future” becomes a reality for the Jaguars, what happens to the team during the process?
There’s nowhere in town that can accommodate the Jaguars without significant infrastructure upgrades and an even more significant cash number, pegged by the team at more than $100 million. Does that mean the Jaguars are shipped off to Gainesville or Orlando or Daytona Beach for two seasons? What have other NFL teams done during renovations or new stadium builds?
NFL teams deal with stadium moves and renovations every so often, and Jacksonville’s is the latest to experience that. Since 2000, there are five examples of NFL teams who played a season or more away from home during stadium transitions.
How select NFL teams have handled recent stadium moves
|Team||Notable||When||How far from stadium|
|Bears||Played at Memorial Stadium on the campus of the University of Illinois during renovations||2002||135 miles|
|Chargers||Played at Dignity Health Sports Park, a 27,000-seat, multi-use sports complex.||2017-19||11 miles|
|Saints||The Superdome was damaged during Hurricane Katrina, so the Saints played their eight home games at LSU’s Tiger Stadium, the Alamodome and Giants Stadium.||2005||81 miles; 540 miles; 1,300 miles|
|Seahawks||Played at Husky Stadium on the campus of the University of Washington.||2000-01||6 miles|
|Vikings||Played at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Stadium while U.S. Bank Stadium was being constructed.||2014-15||2 miles|
On Wednesday, the Jaguars pulled the cover off and unveiled their vision for a totally revamped TIAA Bank Field and new sports and entertainment district around it.
The costs are staggering, up to $2 billion in some estimates for that package. Mayor-elect Donna Deegan and the Jacksonville City Council will sort out the costs and determine the feasibility of the plan presented by the Jaguars. Assuming a deal of some kind passes, a major aspect fans are focusing on — and rightfully so — is what happens to the Jaguars for two years?
Team president Mark Lamping has laid out two scenarios for the Jaguars for a successful stadium deal. One, a 30-month renovation to begin after the 2025 season, would push the Jaguars away from TIAA Bank Field for the 2026 and ‘27 seasons, and return home to the revamped facility in 2028. The second scenario is to stretch the construction across four offseasons and still play games there.
The five NFL franchises that have had to move games for more than a season since 2000 due to stadium deals have largely been able to take refuge at major colleges in their region. The Saints’ situation after Hurricane Katrina was unique because of the devastation in New Orleans, but two other teams (Seahawks and Vikings) had nearby colleges with major football stadiums. The Bears played at the University of Illinois.
The Chargers were the exception to that, spending three seasons at a 27,000-seat multi-use sports complex at Cal State while SoFi Stadium was being constructed.
Jacksonville’s situation is unique to those five because there are no present structures locally that could serve as a temporary hub.
UNF’s Hodges Stadium is the largest college sports venue in town. But at 9,400 seats, it would need something close to 20,000 additional seats and massive infrastructure upgrades to be considered as a potential home. 121 Financial Ballpark has an 11,000-seat capacity but would also need to be significantly updated to be in consideration. The Jumbo Shrimp’s facility was looked at for a potential bid for the Florida High School Athletic Association’s football championships years ago, but it was too narrow to suit a full football field.
The new Jacksonville USL soccer team, which has set 2025 as a launch date, is planning a stadium for its team. Steve Livingstone, part of the soccer ownership group, said last year when the team was announced, that it wanted to construct a 15,000-seat stadium. Could that yet-to-be-announced facility be an option?
Only one of the five major stadium build-outs or renovations since 2000 are similar to what the Jaguars are looking at locally. The Bears’ temporary home at the University of Illinois was roughly a two-hour drive from Soldier Field.
The Carolina Panthers’ situation in 1995 could also be comparable to the Jaguars. Carolina came into the league at the same time in 1995. While Jacksonville Municipal Stadium’s major renovations were completed in time for the inaugural season in 1995, Carolina’s Ericsson Stadium, now called Bank of America Stadium, didn’t open until 1996. The Panthers spent their first year in the NFL playing at Clemson’s Memorial Stadium 137 miles away.
That situation is comparable to the one here.
Gainesville’s Ben Hill Griffin Stadium is 75 miles from TIAA Bank Field. Orlando’s Camping World Stadium, which doesn’t host a college team, is 140 miles from Jacksonville. Lamping mentioned both of those facilities as regional options. Daytona Stadium, which is 90 miles away from Jacksonville, is 10,000 seats and serves as host to Bethune-Cookman University’s football team.