Donna Deegan says Jax Sheriff wants Jaguars stadium before new jail

Aerial view of the Jacksonville Jaguars Stadium during sunrise.
T.K. Waters' Office frames the conversation slightly differently.

Jacksonville has two competing capital projects poised to impose generational obligations on taxpayers, yet the city’s Mayor says Sheriff T.K. Waters is willing to wait on a much-needed new jail to get another one done.

“I recently sat down with the Sheriff and we talked about it and he said, ‘I’m really anxious to get the stadium done too’. He said, ‘We’ve got a little more runway on the jail, we need it. But let’s get the stadium done first,” said Mayor Donna Deegan on Thursday’s WJCT’s First Coast Connect.

The Sheriff’s Office frames the conversation slightly differently.

A spokesperson for Waters framed the “conversation with Mayor Deegan” as “nothing more than an acknowledgment of his understanding that both the jail and stadium renovations cannot be completed during the same fiscal year.” However, Waters “strongly believes that both projects are crucial to the long-term success of the city.”

The Mayor’s Office, responding to a follow-up from Florida Politics, said that Deegan and Waters spoke a few weeks ago and that he said the city has a few years before it needs to build a new jail.

Financing both presents a challenge: Estimates are that jail build could cost as much as $1 billion. To put that number in perspective, the city’s current General Fund budget is roughly $1.75 billion.

The Mayor and Sheriff did not discuss a novel financing scheme being explored by city negotiator Mike Weinstein that would open up pension fund assets as one of six potential borrowing sources for construction.

Weinstein noted Thursday in comments to Florida Politics that “funds wouldn’t be needed for quite a while” and that “final decisions would be made when funds are needed,” with potentially different options available at that time.

The Jaguars and the Shad Khan vehicle “Iguana Investments” previously envisioned a total investment that could cost as much as $2.068 billion, a number that could include stadium improvements costing between $1.2 and $1.4 billion, as well as between $550 and $668 million for development of a “sports district,” an option that Weinstein previously suggested may be off the table as originally proposed.

Jacksonville was proposed to foot the bill for two-thirds of the cost of stadium improvements, with a 50-50 cost share for the total project.

Regarding the negotiations themselves, Deegan says to expect a formal proposal in early May.

Weinstein noted that more details on financing options will be available then.

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


  • Dr. Franklin Waters

    March 21, 2024 at 1:00 pm

    We need fewer jails. Far fewer.
    The US has more incarcerated people per capita than any other country. Land of the Free, eh?

    This is what happens when you just go around building prisons and jails at the expense of everything else. You’ll need to find ways to fill them.

  • the Truth

    March 21, 2024 at 5:44 pm

    we need a bigger jail for all the criminals in Jax, and let Khan the Con pay for the stadium with his own money

    • MH/Duuuval

      March 22, 2024 at 10:10 am

      80 percent of the folks held in the jail have not been to court and per the Constitution are innocent until a jury or judge renders a verdict. Most of these currently incarcerated can’t get their bond and so take up space and cost taxpayers for their housing, food, etc., until their day in court. After excluding those accused of violence, how many of the 80 percent could try to pick up their lives, go back to their jobs if cash bond is minimmized?

      It’s not just Florida’s punitive bond laws, it’s also TK Waters who refuses to utilize adult citations — preferring to incarcerate folks and put the citizens in all kinds of physical and mental jeopardy in lockup.

    • Common sense is dead

      March 22, 2024 at 11:56 am

      Truth! The stadium is a private asset (and private profits going to Con and NFuL) while a public liability everyone else has to pay for, is not a public good, does not have public access, does not help anyone but rich fat white people making their back room business deals (the only people left who buy tickets and then write them off on their taxes). And Con pockets the money while the city pays the bills. Where else is that model allowed? We don’t even get to vote on it. Repeat. We don’t get to vote on it or even comment. It’s a slam dunk through city council. It’s ludicrous.
      They don’t have enough room at the jail. Don’t know why they can’t just build an annex (like they did the old courthouse and it served another 30 years) and rehab the first in stages instead of this all or nothing billion-dollar-courthouse approach. Jax has way too many criminals and not enough brains.

  • Jerome Mines

    March 22, 2024 at 9:32 am

    Needed but relating to.the stadium, how much does the plan is Khan going to shoulder? I the public, private partnership and the city has held up its part. But for an entity worth Billions and growing, their fair share should be larger in my opinion and transparent.

    • MH/Duuuval

      March 22, 2024 at 7:24 pm

      The Jags franchise is now worth 2 billion dollars; he paid $800K.

  • Margaret

    March 22, 2024 at 12:28 pm

    Shad Khan should pay for his stadium, not the taxpayers of Duval County. The majority of people come from out of town and end uo staying at the Beach or Ponte Vedra. They do not benefit Jacksonville in general. This is a boondoggle.
    As far as the jail is concerned, There needs to be a re-think on how to deal with people who are suffering from mental health and drug dependency problems. Making a bigger jail will not solve this problem. Special facilities for Health-related issues would be money better spent. We always spend money after the fact, instead of providing services and funding for poor people from where many of the crime-related problems come, due to
    lack of education, decent housing, paved streets and amenities found in more affluent areas of the County. Priorities!!!!

  • rick whitaker

    March 22, 2024 at 2:54 pm

    if you florida people pay one penny for a private stadium, you are messing over the taxpayers. let the rich come to you and negotiate for who will concede the most to the city. the rich people wants or needs the city, the city don’t necessarily want or need the rich people.

    • MH/Duuuval

      March 23, 2024 at 1:43 pm

      from Wiki:
      The $2.1 billion needed to fund the new stadium will come from a variety of sources:
      $840 million from the team
      $500 million from the state of Tennessee
      $760 million from revenue bonds issued by the Metro Sports Authority to be repaid via personal-seat license sales and taxes collected at the stadium and additional money from a new 1% hotel/motel tax.
      The 1.7-million-square-foot proposed stadium would be a dome, have a seating capacity of 55,000-60,000, have approximately 170 luxury suites and an artificial turf field.[7] The Titans would sign a 30-year lease to play in the stadium.
      The financing program was confirmed by a 26-11 vote on April 25, 2023. Construction will begin in 2024 and opening day set for 2027.[8]

      • rick whitaker

        March 23, 2024 at 8:24 pm

        MH/DUUVAL, i don’t get it, your post was about tennessee, i thought we were talking about florida. the tennessee deal is bad, so i guess you mentioned it to back my opinion that taxpayers paying for private businesses is bad. the final outcome will be how the tennessee deal went. your layout of financing is a prediction of the final outcome. floridian taxpayers are destined to get screwed by the jaguars. let the rich pay for their own toys and charge them a premium to be able to participate. i live in tennessee.

  • Do the Math

    March 25, 2024 at 6:06 pm

    How can Mayor Deegan be a fair and honest negotiator when she is openly biased, representing the Jaguar’s interests? How is that consistent with doing what is best for Duval county? Who sends a chief negotiator to the table who is sympathetic with their competitors? Worse yet she believes that taxpayers can foot the bill for both the jail and stadium in relatively close budget years. Additionally the pension fund is several billion dollars in debt
    Let’s not forget there is a less expensive but still financially significant new transportation system proposal in the works.
    Would someone please buy the Mayor an abacus!

    • Billionaire welfare

      March 26, 2024 at 1:54 am

      I believe this is the problem when you elect someone with no business or accounting experience (except, she paid people to run her Foundation for Running) and who apparently only intends to be a one term mayor–just long enough to reward her buddies and screw over the whole city with generation killing debt.
      Does anyone realize that Jax isn’t even negotiating to KEEP the Jaguars past 2026? The “stadium” is what Con and the franchise are holding up as a ransom to even have a conversation about staying in Jax, just like he’s been pulling that string for years like a toxic marriage. I hope they leave because none of them cares about the city and have been a drain and boondoggle for years and now it’s so much worse–cost of money borrowing, pension, serious issues that need addressing, it’s not the 90’s anymore. Whatever monstrosity they build will be obsolete in less than 2 decades, and a “new” one will have to be built AGAIN, before the original debt can ever be paid. It’s just loss after loss. Kind of like all the people fleeing Jax. The people moving to Jax cannot afford to buy homes. If they can, they are going to neighboring counties with lower tax burdens and legacy costs, and better newer infrastructure. But oh yeah they still get to work in Jax. Whatever Deegan does is going to hollow out the city and break on taxpayers. Rick is right–Jax has a long and pathetic history of acting like the ugly kid at the prom who will do anything just to have somebody dance with them, when it should be the other way around. They give away the store and then wonder what happened.

Comments are closed.


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