Donna Deegan says financing Jaguars’ stadium off pension assets would keep it ‘all in the family’

Aerial view of the Jacksonville Jaguars Stadium during sunrise.
The Jacksonville Mayor urged her stadium negotiator to 'think out of the box.'

Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan isn’t committing to a novel stadium finance proposal advanced to media by her chief negotiator with the Jaguars, but she is borrowing a title phrase from Norman Lear to sell it.

That floated plan would include borrowing from the pension fund’s assets to fund stadium renovation costs.

“It would basically be keeping it all in the family, right? And then of course you, you’d have to pay the pension fund back … at the rate at which they would target their investments. So, I don’t know that that’s something that will actually happen,” Deegan said on WJCT FM.

“That is an idea that, that Mike Weinstein floated to me and said that this is just one of the many options that I’m looking at.”

Deegan said she had advised Weinstein to “think out of the box” since “this is going to be a big-ticket item regardless of what the price tag is.”

“And I said, you know, come up with, with creative ways in which this would allow us to do this with the resources that we have, and I think it’s just one of the things he’s looking at.”

Weinstein described the proposal as a way to pay down pension and potentially circumvent the bond market, at least while it made sense to do this in terms of interest rates.

“Instead of putting it into the land, instead of putting it into the stock market, they would put some of it and give it to the city. The city would, in return, guarantee principal and interest at their AAA return target,” Weinstein said.

The agreement would also include an opportunity for the pension funds to “have a call on it, which means at any time they’re stressed for cash, they can call some of it back, which they’ll never be because they’ve got $5 billion in cash basically.”

It remains to be seen if this will fly with the City Council, of course.

City Council President Ron Salem told Florida Politics on Saturday he had serious questions about the move being explored by the Deegan administration to fund renovation costs that could approach a billion dollars.

“I am concerned that we are negotiating raises at the same time as this issue has surfaced. In addition, I want to understand the cost savings of borrowing from the pension fund versus borrowing the money in a traditional fashion. There is significant work that needs to be completed if this is truly an alternative,” the Republican at large Councilman said.

Salem said he had been briefed on the proposal by chief negotiator Weinstein, who is handling talks with the Jacksonville Jaguars ahead of a deal being presented to the City Council this summer.

Randy White, the current Vice President who likely will lead the Council starting in July, has not been briefed by the administration. But the former Fire and Rescue Administrator is taking a wait-and-see approach as he researches the proposal, and is curious what the Police and Fire Pension Board thinks, as well as the Fraternal Order of Police and the Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters.

Likewise, Finance Chair Nick Howland is learning about the executive branch’s intentions from reading the news. However, he is not completely skeptical of the unique funding scheme.

“I’m reading this report in the media just like everyone else and have plenty of questions. That said, my main concern is negotiating a deal that’s in the best interest of taxpayers and financing that deal in the most efficient manner possible. I will never support raising taxes for a stadium renovation, so alternative financing options are certainly worth exploring.”

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • Edifec Khan

    February 15, 2024 at 7:34 pm

    such a great idea Donna, lets risks the pensions of the police and fire fighters on the edifice to Khan the con

  • Nope

    February 15, 2024 at 9:59 pm

    Don’t worry, they’ll be sure to hang all the billionaire welfare on the taxpayers, too. And make all borrowing costs as expensive as possible, paid for by citizens whose streets continue to flood and crime keeps going up. And city council and mayoral administration alike will all have their next campaigns funded by that billionaire, votes all bought and paid for. And it will all be for nothing with no returns to city, and will be obsolete in 20 years. Because Jacksonville.

  • J.R. Ross

    February 15, 2024 at 10:37 pm

    The city has a long history of cheating monies owed and borrowed from the Police Fire Pension. The members will NEVER trust the city again.

  • Rick May

    February 16, 2024 at 7:32 am

    Absolutely NOT!!! This is what is wrong with Social Security today, POLITICIANS using funds for retirement for their political gain! You want the people who we NEED (police/firemen) to gamble their retirement for people who make billions?! Absolutely NOT!!! This actually should be illegal. We actually need to pass a law to keep politicians out of people’s retirements!! We don’t need the Jaguars (they are entertainment), we need police/fire that is a necessity! Can Democrats not come up with money besides stealing it from the taxpayers?!?! 😡😡😡🤬🤬🤬

  • R. W. Jewell

    February 16, 2024 at 8:53 am

    NO WAY! The city has cheated the Police/Fire pension plan in the past and we should NEVER loan them ANY MONEY again!

  • Rick May

    February 16, 2024 at 9:14 am

    The fact this mayor would even suggest taking TAXPAYERS’ money to gamble on a project that promotes multi-millionaires and billionaires is enough to warrant an impeachment! I can honestly say that if DeSantis’ office finds out about this he would get directly involved and stop the madness this mayor is trying to do. I am a retired Army veteran and I can tell you what she is wanting to do is like what the VA had done to us for decades. She doesn’t value the first responders’ pensions over NFL entertainment! This was a stupid comment made by her and it speaks volumes about where her loyalty lies…with the WEALTHY over the People. Epic failure for Deegan, EPIC!

  • Chris

    February 16, 2024 at 10:56 am

    Oddly, all of these comments sound like they were paid for by, insert any political super pac.

    • William parr

      February 16, 2024 at 11:21 am

      This was what the Mob did with the teamsters unions back in the day.And you saw what the out come of that was.🤦‍♂️

    • Billionaire welfare

      February 17, 2024 at 3:07 pm

      The only thing bought and paid for are the city council and mayoral administration by a billionaire grifter who pays their political campaigns and more. You can check for yourself. Most people are sick of this billionaire welfare at the expense of taxpayers and a functioning city.

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn