6 observations from the Jaguars 'Stadium of the Future' renderings
Updated: Jun 10
Wednesday marked a big day for the city of Jacksonville and the Jacksonville Jaguars. The team, which has been working on a 'Stadium of the Future' plan since 2016, unveiled renderings to the public for the first time -- and they caused a positive buzz within the city and on the web.
Not too soon after the renderings were revealed, Peter Broeder, who is the principal of HOK architecture firm, and Jags president Mark Lamping met with the media to discuss the details. Between the two, a lot was revealed about the stadium's features, cost, and construction. There was also a lot that wasn't revealed and will have to be answered down the road.
With the renderings now available for the public to view, a long journey of negotiations are ahead, and if all goes well, the Jags will have their lease renewed for the long-term future. It will be a while before we know exactly how those conversations go, but we figured we'd still share some of our initial thoughts on what has been revealed.
The renderings did indeed highlight a shaded roof for all seats
Finally, some shade at TIAA Bank Field! Well, kind of.
After years of fans expressing their discomfort with the game day heat, we all knew that a rendering that highlighted shade was guaranteed. The team even did a survey asking fans to rank their top requests, and of course, shade came in at No. 1.
Wednesday’s renderings showcased a solution to the heat in the form of a glass canopy similar to the one at SoFi Stadium. This canopy also wraps around the stadium, while still not fully enclosing it. As a result, the Jags stadium would be an open air venue instead of a fully enclosed one.
The roof of the canopy is one made of ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) panels, just like the one at SoFi Stadium. It would reduce the heat by 70% and lower the temperature by 10 to 15 degrees. That sounds like it would make a huge difference, but some fans are still understandably weary of the open air concept due to concerns that there could still be a great deal of humidity.
Still, this idea seems like a significantly better option than the canopy Miami built, which doesn't cover every fan. It's also worth noting that Broeder, who has had his hand in the project since the beginning, said that the stadium's reconstruction would include better air flow. At the same time, this project is going to take a lot of taxpayer dollars (more on that later), and if that's the case, a fully climate controlled option shouldn't be off the table despite the price.
The exterior is pretty unique
As previously mentioned, there was more to the stadium's exterior than just the roof. The canopy also included cover on the sides made of a mirrored material. Lamping described it as a material similar to that used in sunglasses, which would protect the stadium from the sun, while providing the fans on the inside with a view of the city. With such a unique idea, the Jags could end up with a sponsorship from Ray-Ban or Oakley (this was a joke, kind of).
To add to the unique exterior of the stadium that would be the first of its kind, the walk to the stadium would be newly designed as well. The Jags went for a "subtropical Floridian park" atmosphere outside of the stadium. This would include biking and walking trails, as well as "parklands, greenways, beaches, and marshes" around the stadium.
Lastly, the renderings included an entrance to a raised concourse that will sit 30 feet above the ground. Once in the concourse, fans will have a beautiful view of Downtown Jacksonville and the St. Johns River.
More concourse space, food options, plus more are on the way
Aside from constructing a roof, fans really wanted improved food, concourse, and restroom amenities. The Jags seemingly heard those requests as well and showcased several improvements.
The aforementioned raised concourse will be a 360-degree addition that will be four times wider than what the Jags presently have. Making the stadium's walkways more spacious is something that has been long needed and their recent playoff game was proof. Heading forward, this will give the stadium more social and traveling space as their attendance could creep up with a winning product on the field.
All levels of the stadium will see an increase in space. That includes a 185-percent increase in the main concourse area and a 260-percent increase in the upper concourse area, according to the team's press release. The upper concourse will also have 360-degree connectivity, meaning fans will be able to walk to all parts of the stadium from the top floor. That's a luxury that the current stadium doesn't have.
Of course, the new concourses will include new food and bar options "native" to the Jacksonville area. The team didn't release any information on what the food options will be or the potential vendors, but they have said that there will be 220 new food and beverage points of sale. Variety is something that many fans won't argue with as the food options are one of the issues they've placed near the top of the list alongside the shade issue.
Additionally, there will be 14 new restrooms added to the stadium, which will help cut down the lines many have endured at games. The current stadium has over 52 restrooms, so if the number isn't decreased through construction the Jags would have just over 65.
The city could put in the highest taxpayer contribution in NFL history
In addition to the renderings, some potential details (courtesy of Florida Politics) recently emerged on the cost. The Jaguars and Khan's company, Iguana Investments, believe the stadium project could cost as much as $2.068 billion. However, that's a figure that not includes the stadium improvements, but also the development around it. That said, the stadium improvements, which will mostly fall on the tax payers, would cost around $1.2 to $1.4 billion (two-thirds of the cost). Meanwhile, a “sports district” around the stadium would cost around $550 to $668 million.
The sports and entertainment district idea is a concept that the Jags are essentially revisiting after the Lot J project didn't happen back in 2021. In a nutshell, it was a restaurant, entertainment, and shopping district that would be placed in a parking lot adjacent to TIAA Bank Field.
When factoring in the sports district, there would be a 50-50 cost share between the Jaguars and the city. That's an interesting tidbit when looking at the project overall because it would involve Khan pouring over half of a billion dollars into Jacksonville.
As for the stadium, the city government would be on the hook for $800 to $934 million of the cost, according to the report from Florida Politics. If the total exceeds $850 million, it would be the largest taxpayer contribution in the history of the NFL. At the moment, the Buffalo Bills hold the record as they decided to build a new stadium last year.
With such a large amount of the stadium's improvements being funded by taxpayers, an interesting case could be made for the city to see if they can reward their fans with a full slate of home games in Jacksonville. Currently, the Jags play one home game in London a year, something the fanbase has voiced their displeasure about.
If the city can't negotiate more games in Jacksonville, it would be worth a shot to see if they can form a deal where the Jags would play a home game in London one year, then all home games in Jacksonville the next year. They also could look into negotiating a stopping point to London games (maybe a few years down the road). Regardless, a case could be made for the city to get bang for their buck, and time will tell if it's a part of the upcoming negotiations.
The potential to host a college playoff events were mentioned, but not a Super Bowl
A big part of investing into a project of this caliber is finding out what events it would draw to the city. In their presentation, the Jags showcased events that are TIAA Bank Field staples like the World's Largest Cocktail Party and the Taxslayer Gator Bowl. However, it also showcased some events that would be new to Jacksonville, like an NCAA football playoff game and a Final Four tournament. The latter two especially were interesting, as they would present new opportunities for the city of Jacksonville.
In our last article, I questioned if renovations would bring new events to the stadium, but it appears the Jags have done their research. The potential to host a college football playoff game is a possibility due to the NCAA expanding their playoff format. In 2024, they will be moving from a four-team tournament to a 12-team one, which opens up the opportunity for more cities to host games. While the stadium won't be completed until at least 2028, it's good to see the Jags eyeing a plan ahead of time. If all goes well, they could have some events to announce when the lease is done, which would allow them to hit the ground running after construction.
Unfortunately, a Super Bowl wasn't mentioned in Wednesday's announcement, but that was to be expected. As we mentioned a few weeks ago, it could be a matter of Jacksonville not having the hotel capacity, which was an issue back in 2005. However, that's not to say a Super Bowl wouldn't be possible down the line, as Jacksonville has seen a hotel boom over the last few years.
The Jags are considering two construction plans
If the city and the Jags come to an agreement, the next step will be a construction plan. According to Lamping, there are two options that are being explored.
Both plans would have construction start in February of 2026. The most preferable route would include nonstop construction for two years. With this approach, the renovations would be done by the 2028 season. If the city were to go with this option, the Jags would have to play two seasons away from Jacksonville. They could look into making a facility in Jacksonville NFL-ready (which would cost around $125 million), or play in a venue that is already NFL-ready, like Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (Gainesville) or Camping World Stadium (Orlando).
The second option would be to do a four-phase construction process that would take four years. The Jags would be able to play at home throughout this process, but they would be doing so in a stadium that's under construction. The construction process would likely start every offseason and that would result in it being prolonged. This approach would also cost $190 million more, according to Lamping.
Of the two options, Lamping said the Jags would prefer the first, which is cheaper and quicker. It's possible the city could prefer option No. 2 though, as mayor-elect Donna Deegan has said she wants the Jags to play in Jacksonville during construction. If she doesn't go with the four-year plan, then making Hodges Stadium or 121 Financial Ballpark NFL-ready will cost money and would require a look from the league.
Many cities who've endured a stadium rebuild or renovations have had the luxury of having a NFL-ready college stadiums nearby. That's not the case for Jacksonville, which will make the upcoming construction decision a hard one for Deegan. If she goes with option No. 1, fans would have to travel at least 75 miles to Gainesville, if not further. That might require the Jags to pay the University of Florida, too, though Jacksonville has a good relationship with the university. If this is the route the mayor takes, maybe the city could look into helping fans with transportation at an affordable rate, which could help tremendously.
As for making one of the facilities in Jacksonville NFL-ready, it's unknown if the city and/or the Jags would want to pay up. If the bill falls on the city, it might be an easier pill to swallow knowing that the money would be going into a local resource, but ultimately time will tell if that's the case.