The Jacksonville Jaguars, 1-12 as of this writing in terms of the NFL season, look poised to go from worst to first on a different field this January.
In the friendly confines of the City Council chambers, the team looks poised to get its Lot J proposal across the goal line in January. Not that they couldn’t have done it last week, advocates say.
Democrat Reggie Gaffney, whose district houses the Jaguars’ stadium and the Sports Complex, told City Council members Friday that God had told him the measure would have the requisite 13 votes for a supermajority. Mere mortals counting the votes, meanwhile, expect at least 15 of the 19 Council members to hit the green button.
And a lot of green is in play for Jacksonville, which would be committing a huge chunk of capital to the project negotiated by Mayor Lenny Curry, the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Cordish Companies.
The proposed entertainment zone at the Sports Complex, a joint proposal of the Jaguars and the Mayor’s Office, would come with a hefty city obligation. The city would put in $233 million on the project, with borrowing costs adding at least $100 million to the city obligation. Allocations include $50 million on a Live! Entertainment Venue, nearly $93 million on infrastructure, and a $65 million interest-free “breadbox” loan to the Jaguars. A hotel would be developed on the site also, but the city would not be on the hook for that development.
During a Friday meeting, some allies of the Mayor’s Office expressed confidence that the bill could move next month after the City Council’s holiday break.
“We’re getting to a good place here,” noted second-term Republican Aaron Bowman. “I think on the seventh we’re in position to move the bill, with an omnibus amendment that pulls in everything we’ve agreed to.”
Republican first-termer LeAnna Cumber said “everyone has what we need to make a decision, either up or down, at the beginning of January.”
Progress seemed somewhat less assured just a few days before, when Jacksonville City Council President Tommy Hazouri said the bill wouldn’t be voted on this year and there was no movement to test the vote count at this point.
Jaguars’ President Mark Lamping described the Jaguars as a “free agent team,” noting that other markets, such as his old stomping grounds in St. Louis, theoretically awaited if they didn’t get favorable terms.
But on Friday, Lamping was full of succor and soft soap, offering an emollient balm to those handful of Council members who showed up to a meeting that those on hand think was decisive.