Article by Kassidy Hill | Sports Illustrated
The Jacksonville Jaguars are preparing to slingshot their club into the upper echelon of NFL communities. One of the league’s youngest franchise’s, the Jaguars have consistently ranked at or near the bottom in terms of facilities and surrounding areas. Now, owner Shad Khan is taking the reins to hopefully change that.
On Thursday, the Jaguars announced plans for a major renovation and revitalization to both downtown Jacksonville and the Jaguars facilities. The facility updates would focus on stadium renovations and a football performance center. The latter—to be built next to Gate 2—will include public art, public viewing stands, restrooms, concession areas, retail store and public meeting space among football operations.
According to the Jaguars, “the current space dedicated to football operations inside TIAA Bank Field does not meet NFL team requirements. Creating a football performance center will allow the Jaguars team and football operations to move out of the stadium permanently, permitting stadium renovations to commence.”
This plan allows for games to continue to be played at TIAA Bank Field during renovations, according to team president Mark Lamping.
Plans for stadium renovations will see all seats shaded, wider concourses, increased space for football operations, better vertical transportation and replacing the HVAC, plumbing, mechanical and electrical systems. These renovations would begin following the 2021 season.
The new 125,000 square-foot practice facility housed in the football performance center will be adjacent to the public promenade. It will include two outdoor fields and an indoor facility, as well as shaded spectator seating. The proposed plan sees this being completed ideally ahead of the 2023 season.
The Jaguars are proposing the club and city of Jacksonville split the cost of the new facilities in half. The current projected cost is expected to come in at $120 million. The City of Jacksonville will own the facility and property while the Jags will assume all overrun cost, ongoing maintenance, capital improvement and operating expense responsibilities under a long-term lease agreement.
The facilities, under direction from new head coach Urban Meyer, will be “player-centric.” They will include locker rooms, meeting rooms, training and recovery areas, medical support facilities, weight room, dining facilities, office space, and the draft room.
With the construction of the new practice field and facilities, the current flex field would be open for over 300 days a year for community use by the Parks and Recreation Department; concerts, picnics, volleyball games, flag-football games, etc.
According to Lamping, all of these downtown proposals “will be conditioned on a 5-star hotel,” adding you can’t promise a Four Seasons and deliver a Days Inn. And Shad Khan is promising a Four Seasons.
After the failure of the Lot J proposal, Khan—backing the hotel investment with his own capital—wants to find new ways to revitalize the downtown and docks area. It begins with the opening of a Four Seasons Hotel. 176 rooms and 25 residential units, as well as ballrooms, meetings rooms and restaurants, is set to open in 2025.
Khan maintains it will be of no risk to Four Seasons, but entirely his own to bring this to downtown Jacksonville.
“My goal is for Downtown Jacksonville to be the envy of cities here in the U.S. and elsewhere, and I see no reason why we can’t achieve that goal,” said Jaguars team owner Shad Khan. “I am confident we have the local leadership, spirit and commitment to revitalize Downtown Jacksonville in a manner that will make the world take notice while also serving the needs of the community and the people who make Jacksonville their home.”
“Shad is making a big bet on our future,” said Jaguars team president Mark Lamping. “So, this is a big plan. Working together, we can make this happen.”
The proposal offers the Jaguars’ plan to adopt Met Park through the City’s Private Park Adoption Program, committing $4 million over 20 years to help keep the park clean, safe and well-maintained.
The city-owned marina will be renovated and modernized, including construction of a new 6,500 square-foot marina support building to include a dockmaster’s office, ship store, restrooms with showers, a food and beverage venue, a marina park, and an events lawn. The marina facilities will continue to be owned by the City of Jacksonville for the benefit of transient boaters.
Finally, Phase 1 will focus on a six-floor office building. It will be the home of Jaguars’ business operations, as well as affiliated companies and third-party renters.
The entirety of Phase 1 (including the $120 million for the football performance center) will come to $441 million.
As part of phase 2 of the project, in conjunction with Baptist Health and Jacksonville Orthopedic Institute, the club is planning a 42,000 square-foot orthopedic sports medicine complex. This will offer advanced medical care for sports injury, recovery and prevention, as well as performance training.