Jaguars owner Shad Khan says $1.4 billion stadium renovation won’t sit well with ‘Debbie Downers’

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan could have taken a chest-thumping victory lap Wednesday.

He bought an NFL franchise in 2012 that was the laughingstock of the league, one that had tarps covering seats and was preparing to potentially play several home games annually in nearby Orlando. Khan told anyone who would listen that he wanted the team to find success in Jacksonville.

No one believed him.

Relocation rumors switched to Los Angeles and then London and eventually St. Louis.

So years later, with the city approving a $1.4 billion “stadium of the future” renovation for the Jaguars, Khan had a chance to take shots at all the naysayers. He took the high road — for the most part anyway.

“I don’t get any joy out of proving people wrong,” Khan said Wednesday. “They can reflect and move on. But actions always speak louder than words. And from Day 1, it’s been like judge us by our actions.

“Definitely for the ‘Debbie Downers,’ (Tuesday) night was not a good night.”

The proposal passed by a 14-1 vote. It calls for a 55-45% financial split, with each side contributing $625 million to the $1.25 billion build. Jacksonville, which won’t levy any new taxes to fund the rebuild, would chip in another $150 million in deferred maintenance to get EverBank Stadium ready for construction in 2026.

The Jaguars would play in front of a reduced capacity (no upper deck) in 2026 and then host home games in Gainesville or Orlando the following year.

The proposal includes a 30-year lease, a non-relocation agreement and a provision that limits the number of games the Jaguars can play outside Jacksonville.

Khan and team president Mark Lamping first started looking at stadium upgrades in 2016, with Khan prioritizing an organic and unique shape “that would be timeless,” he said.

The project became fast-tracked last year after new Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan took office. She spearheaded the city’s side of negotiations.

“Unlike Shad, I do enjoy proving people wrong,” said Deegan, who grew up in Jacksonville and was a news anchor when Jacksonville originally got the franchise in 1993. “I have been very petty in this process, saving every article, every negative tweet, every ‘no way you’re ever going to get this done.’ I’ve saved them all, and I’m relishing that today.”

The Jaguars agreed to take on all construction cost overruns, assume day-to-day operations of the stadium and bear 80.4% of game day expenses moving forward.

The proposed 63,000-seat, open-air stadium includes a translucent covering that’s similar to SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles. It’s expected to keep out rain and lower outside temperatures by 15 degrees.

Capacity could be expanded to 71,500 to accommodate the annual Florida-Georgia rivalry, the Gator Bowl, a College Football Playoff game or the Final Four. Pools and a party deck would remain in the north end zone.

It’s the latest addition to Khan’s NFL ownership legacy. He has now contributed roughly $1.3 billion to the city, including $301.2 million for an ongoing shipyards project, $119 million toward a community benefits agreement that was passed along with the stadium renovation, $108.7 million in previous stadium upgrades, $80 million for a practice facility and $30 million donated to various charities.

Yet, everyone assumed he wanted to move the small-market franchise.

“Everyone wants to doubt Jacksonville, and as of (Tuesday) night, that should no longer be the case,” Khan said. “People can move on with other stuff. Not a good day for the Doubting Thomases. We did something very significant, but we got to remember our journey to last night’s historic night was long.”



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