Lost in Wednesday’s announcement that $63 million will be devoted to upgrading EverBank Field was one fairly significant fact.
The City of Jacksonville doesn’t know how it will come up with its $43 million share.
As explained by David Bauerlein of the Florida Times-Union, some City Council members are concerned about the manner in which an agreement they’ll eventually be asked to approve will be funded.
“I’m very concerned the mayor makes these announcements without having the backup financial information that everybody can look at and feel comfortable that it can be done,” Council member Matt Schellengberg said.
Council member Bill Gulliford compared the process of striking a deal to pay for the upgrades without knowing how the upgrades will be funded to “sending the fire truck after the building is burned down.”
Still, at a time when most proposals to use public money for stadium projects is met quickly and aggressively with cries of “welfare for billionaires,” Jaguars fans primarily have reacted with relief. Which makes sense, since most of the teams trying to raid public coffers haven’t committed to playing one game per year for the next four years in London, with strong hints that the plan could be extended and expanded.
But while the devotion of another $63 million to improve EverBank Field makes the abandonment of Jacksonville by the Jaguars less likely, the tea leaves continue to point to a split schedule, with the possibility of two, three, or four home games eventually being exported to London.
“Everybody needs to understand that playing games in London is very, very important for Jacksonville and very important to this franchise,” owner Shahid Khan said Wednesday. “We need fans, we need corporate sponsors. Jacksonville is excellent in its fan support and has great facilities.
“But we don’t have [enough] corporate sponsors. London is a missing piece.”
While a part-time team in London may not fit Commissioner Roger Goodell’s vision of a franchise moving there, a shared schedule would be the best way to have a strong England presence without the many logistical problems that would arise from a team playing its home games there exclusively.
And while it would be better to lose half the games than all of them to London, it’s safe to say that four games over four years is only the beginning.