Jaguars owner unveils plans to develop downtown Jacksonville

The Jaguars have unveiled plans to develop downtown Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jaguars unveiled plans Thursday to develop downtown Jacksonville, with team owner Shad Khan committing $60 million to a city-owned performance center that was key in luring new coach Urban Meyer to the NFL.

The first of two phases would break ground by the end of the year and take four years to complete at an estimated cost of $441 million. The proposal still needs approval from a review board and city council.

“Shad is making a big bet on our future,” Jaguars President Mark Lamping said. “So, this is a big plan. Working together, we can make this happen.”

The ambitious project also calls for the Jaguars to donate $4 million over 20 years to help maintain Metropolitan Park near the stadium.

The second phase features an orthopedic sports medicine complex, street-level retail space and possibly a residential building.

The Jaguars expect the venture to be a catalyst for downtown growth that could draw more people to the area for work and entertainment.

“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,” Khan said. “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.”

Khan has spent nearly a decade working to improve Jacksonville and its aging stadium. He funded locker, weight and training room makeovers as well as sharing costs to install supersized scoreboards and build an indoor practice field and adjoining amphitheater. He also led the push to get stadium club sections overhauled.

He eventually wants to deliver a “stadium of the future” in Jacksonville, which means a $500 million or more makeover that’s likely to include covered seating around the entire venue. He believes an upgrade is needed to increase local revenue and eventually eliminate the need to play annually in London.

The Jaguars are among a handful of NFL teams that run their entire operation from their stadium. Meeting rooms and offices are all located in the bowels of the nearly 30-year-old venue. It surprised Meyer, who had state-of-the-art facilities at Ohio State and pretty much demanded upgrades in Jacksonville before he agreed to take the job in January.

The Jags will sign a long-term lease of the performance center, which is scheduled to open in summer 2023, and take full responsibility for operational costs.

The 125,000-square-foot building will house locker rooms, meeting rooms, training and recovery areas, medical support facilities, a weight room, dining facilities, coaching and scouting offices, a draft room and public meeting space. There also will be two practice fields and an indoor practice field.

Jacksonville’s current indoor practice field, completed in 2017, will be turned over to the city’s parks and recreation department for more than 300 days of programming.

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