Jacksonville will pay $775M in public funds toward $1.4B Jaguars renovation

(The Center Square) – The Jacksonville Jaguars became the second NFL team this week to get a large sum of public money for a stadium renovation when the City Council voted 14-1 to approve $775 million toward a $1.4 billion renovation of EverBank Stadium.

The Jaguars and NFL are expected to pay $625 million toward the project, using NFL G-4 loans along with funds from items such as naming rights through the new 30-year lease and non-relocation agreement.

Project cost overruns must be paid by the Jaguars.

Economists who have studied publicly-funded stadium deals have repeatedly shown the deals do not bring the promised returns and do not spur other economic activity in a community.

As economist J.C. Bradbury of Georgia’s Kennesaw State University has pointed out, that is especially true of renovations to existing NFL stadiums at the same spot.

“There is no legitimate policy justification for devoting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to upgrade an NFL football stadium,” Bradbury told The Center Square. “The research on this is clear and unambiguous: sports stadiums are not salutary public investments.

“City leaders were obviously aware that the evidence is not on their side, which is why they chose to ignore it rather than make a case based on sound research. Frankly, every council member who voted for his plan should be extremely embarrassed. It’s negligent conduct.”

The Jacksonville deal came one day after Charlotte’s City Council agreed to fund roughly half of the $1.2 billion renovation sought for the stadium owned by a billionaire NFL owner.

The renovation is planned to start after the 2025 season and be completed before 2028. That means the team would host games in a limited crowd capacity in Jacksonville in 2026 and then play in central Florida in either Gainesville or Orlando in 2027.

The proposal includes $150 million from the city to prepare the stadium for construction.

“What caused Charlotte/Jacksonville media outlets to largely not report that their city councils passed massive subsidies for NFL stadium renovations over the near-unanimous opposition from economists?” Bradbury asked. “I don’t think there is some conspiracy, but there is clearly a blind-spot here. It’s really important to spread the word among reporters that stadiums are very bad public investments. There is no reasonable case for stadium subsidies of this size. The story writes itself.”

The city will borrow funds to pay its portion of the renovation as part of the city’s capital improvement plan.

“The city pays the expenses of the CIP projects from various city accounts as the costs occur and at the end of each year the city borrows the amount spent on the projects and reimburses the accounts the funding originally came from,” the city explained on its website.