‘Mind-boggling’: Activist group says no to Jax stadium, jail without conditions

'If the city wants a luxury item like a renovated stadium along with a new jail, it must agree to massive investments in underserved areas to help make up for the sins of the past that still haunt us today.'

While Jacksonville appears to be headed toward renovating the Jaguars’ stadium in the coming years, there is some conceptual resistance to that and another big-ticket project from one activist group.

The Northside Coalition of Jacksonville (NCOJ) opposes the capital projects, unless more money is allocated to what NCOJ President Kelly Frazier calls “an Even Better Jacksonville Plan,” described as a “Marshall Plan” for revitalization of the city’s neglected neighborhoods.

“It is mind-boggling that public officials want to spend $775 million on a renovated football stadium and $1 billion on a new jail when the broken promises of consolidation are still hanging over their heads. The ‘Community Benefits Agreement’ is the best part of the stadium contract, but many millions more must be invested in underserved areas,” Frazier said.

Community benefits in the proposal include construction workforce development programs, prioritizing local vendors and accepting goals of the Jacksonville Small and Emerging Business Program, along with $300 million in shared costs for the Outeast neighborhood abutting the stadium, workforce development and parks. The Jaguars’ share of that is to be doled out over 30 years should the plan be approved by the City Council.

That’s not enough for NCOJ.

“We call for an ‘Even Better Jacksonville’ plan, one that would include millions for neglected parts of the city. If the city wants a luxury item like a renovated stadium along with a new jail, it must agree to massive investments in underserved areas to help make up for the sins of the past that still haunt us today.”

The $1.25 billion deal is proposed to be a 50/50 split, with the Jaguars agreeing to cover all cost overruns in a “much larger commitment than they originally proposed,” per Deegan. Jacksonville will also be on the hook for $150 million in deferred maintenance costs, bringing the total cost to $1.4 billion, and the actual split to 55/45.

The scheme’s financing relies on deferring a pension tax expected to take effect in the next couple of years, per the Mayor’s Office, moving legacy projects back to that allocation (still dedicated to the “Better Jacksonville Plan” approved when John Delaney was Mayor) and using a big chunk of the next four capital improvement plans to fund the stadium.

While NCOJ offers no opinion on that move that would defer a current half-cent sales tax being allocated to legacy pension costs from a plan closed to new entrants nearly a decade ago, City Council members are exploring whether that’s viable.

President Ron Salem said on Thursday’s “First Coast Connect” that auditors were looking at the financing currently, calling it an “intriguing” proposal, but wondering what the “repercussions” would be for the pension debt, which is north of $3 billion.

Meanwhile, a new jail could cost up to a billion dollars in currently valued money, more than the cost of stadium renovations, but like those renovations, well overdue.

The City Council’s Special Committee of the Council to Review JSO Primary Facilities produced a report in favor of a new facility, which is a priority of Sheriff T.K. Waters.

“The overcapacity of the facility, as well as the outdated infrastructure, unwelcoming design features, and lack of adequate, modern staff amenities have hindered JSO’s ability to recruit and retain correctional officers and staff,” the report noted.

We have reached out to Mayor Donna Deegan for comment, and will update if we get it.

A.G. Gancarski

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


  • Cindy

    May 16, 2024 at 3:37 pm

    I think they are getting tired of sins of the past.. especially when a group just wants to roll one..
    I agree it is more difficult to live homeless. Then in prison sometimes at least you can rest in prison

    • rick whitaker

      May 16, 2024 at 4:55 pm

      CINDY , some prisons are better than living on the streets. not florida prisons, almost all of them are not up to the federal standards of common human decency.

  • The Big Lie

    May 16, 2024 at 3:45 pm

    This mayoral administration makes the last one look like the hardie boys. So much hypocrisy, lies, and empty promises to the communities that got them elected. Will go down in history as the worst and administration in Jax history which is really an accomplishment. Your city council does not represent you. Never did, never will. They represent the big con and developers. That’s it. Anyone who lives in and around the urban core or north or west of downtown already knows your tax dollars are stolen from you —stolen because you get nothing for them, just watch the money get shoveled to the favored developers and parts of town. Stolen with over assessments and other shenanigans while your actual property values continue to diminish due to the city’s refusal to hold up their end with basic things like community investment, common sense zoning and code enforcement, policing, street cleaning, sewer maintenance (how many older neighborhoods floods every time it rains? Too many). And it’s about to get a whole lot worse. People who can leave will start to leave Jacksonville even faster now. People moving here will not buy a home in Jax—they will go outside of Duval county. The die is cast and they made their choices over and over again. Jax is not one city. It never was. It’s the big lie.

    • MH/Duuuval

      May 16, 2024 at 10:36 pm

      Aaron Zahn was a Hardy Boy?

  • Frankie M.

    May 16, 2024 at 4:38 pm

    AG could be the spokesperson for that group if Kelly Frazier steps down.

    • MH/Duuuval

      May 16, 2024 at 10:43 pm

      The group has a long-standing and legitimate beef. It’s not merely about being overlooked and disrespected by the MAGAs and Neo-Confederates on the Council, but a charter that provides for 5 at-large seats on the Council — a colossal act of vote dilution. (Any working journalist would likely be taking a steep salary cut to become the group’s mouthpiece.)

  • rick whitaker

    May 16, 2024 at 4:51 pm

    THE BIG LIE, the maga cult is out to exploit and profit from the lie you spoke of. maga cult exists on lies only.

  • Alex P

    May 16, 2024 at 7:10 pm

    These Northside Coalition clowns are past their expiration date.

    They peeked when they had the final statue torn down and now think that they are an important part of the process.

    They could best serve The Community by getting jobs, paying some taxes and keeping their mouths shut.

  • Same old Same Old

    May 17, 2024 at 7:06 am

    Should have sold JEA.

    • MH/Duuuval

      May 17, 2024 at 1:37 pm

      If Curry had been honest about it, the public would have listened more closely to the arguments in favor. But, Curry tried to pull a fast one on voters.

Comments are closed.


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