‘Stadium of the Future’ Renovations Could Push Jaguars and Florida-Georgia Game Out of Jacksonville

Words by Carson Rich

Jacksonville’s top attraction is getting an upgrade, and it could drastically impact local events for years to come. Designs were just released for TIAA Bank Field to take on a major, multibillion- dollar renovation project that is expected to last almost four years. This news may be exciting for fans in the long run, but the biggest concern seems to be where the Jaguars will be playing during construction. 

 

Built in 1994, Jacksonville’s stadium has played a major role in hosting some of North Florida’s biggest events. It is known for being home to the Jacksonville Jaguars, the annual Florida-Georgia football game, the AEW and the college football’s Gator Bowl. In 2005, it was also the site of Super Bowl XXXIX. 

 

Renovations are nothing new for the venue. Since its opening, it has been through three name changes and two significant construction projects that helped build it into what it is today. The organization’s newest project will be, by far, the biggest one yet. 

 

The team recently chose HOK Architects out of St. Louis to design the entire project. HOK has had quite the experience before taking on Jacksonville with prominent work including the construction of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta and the $755 million renovation of Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.

 

The Jaguars unleashed their new stadium designs on June 7, revealing a list of new features that will help solve existing problems. These additions include a new Floridian park that flows directly into an elevated 360-degree concourse, and a shade canopy, which has been the biggest hope for local fans. The outside of the venue will have a reflective metallic look that decreases temperatures 10 to 15 degrees, helping keep fans cooler in the Florida heat. The stadium capacity will also expand to upwards of 70,000 and can fit more when the field opens up for concerts. 

 

Based on a questionnaire we posted on social media prior to the design reveal, the biggest wish for the new stadium was shading for the seats. This has been a growing issue due to the heat that Jacksonville receives during the NFL season, and it will finally be resolved with the renovations. The two pools and large video boards will remain in the stadium, as they are both things that the city is proud to have. 

 

Mayor-Elect Donna Deegan issued a statement on the new design rollout and what it means for the city of Jacksonville: “It’s a beautiful vision for economic revitalization. Infrastructure, especially in our older historic neighborhoods, will be one of the key priorities of my administration. I look forward to the coming negotiations and a deal that is good for taxpayers which keeps the Jaguars in Jacksonville for generations to come.” We reached out to the Jaguars public relations team for further commentary and have yet to receive a response. 

 

For the city of Jacksonville, this means that future events could potentially be moved to another location. This affects not only the organizations affiliated with the stadium but also the people who generally attend them. 

 

We conducted a poll to find out how locals feel about the renovations being planned for their home field: 45% of respondents believe the city is in need of a new stadium, 32% do not see the point in changing anything with 24% responding it does not really matter to them. 

 

If the renovations push events out of the city, it would have huge repercussions on business owners across the city, especially in the Downtown area. Local bars and fan attractions that would miss out on a great deal of revenue on game days that they were always able to look forward to coming into NFL seasons in the past.

 

As far as the Jaguars go, season ticket holders may have to travel farther or rethink their purchase all together depending on where the new location is set. The temporary stadium’s size is also a huge deciding factor for fans, as this could potentially lead to a large decrease in fan attendance. The current stadium has a capacity of around 68,000 people, making it the largest venue of its kind in Northeast Florida. One possibility being considered is Hodges Stadium at UNF, which currently holds around 12,000. Without putting significant funding toward renovating their stadium, it’s not a feasible option. 

 

Rumor has it the temporary replacement could be Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at the University of Florida. This possible solution would not only satisfy but could also increase attendance since it is capable of holding almost 89,000 people.

 

This location would also help negotiations regarding location of the Florida-Georgia game. For years, the game has been played in Jacksonville because it is a neutral site between the two universities, but since they won’t have that for a few years, a compromise may be in the works. Fans agree they would like to see the games during those years played on each other’s turf, taking turns so they each have an equal chance of having “home-field advantage.”

 

The result of the renovations project aims to allow for a large expansion of events to be hosted in Jacksonville. As of right now, the most prominent events held there are Jaguars home games, the Florida-Georgia game and the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl. After the stadium is finished, there are hopes of attracting high-profile events like the College Football Playoff, the Men’s NCAA Final Four, and international soccer games. The addition of these events could generate huge amounts of revenue for the city and local businesses and bring more visitors to Downtown and the Urban Core in general.

 

While the renovation plans for TIAA Bank Field are slated to change the course of local events for almost four years during construction, the “Stadium of the Future” presents a bright outlook for Jacksonville. For now fans can sit back and enjoy the last two seasons cheering on the home team at home. 

About Carson Rich

Throughout his childhood, you could always find Carson Rich with his eyes glued to the screen watching Sportcenter every morning before school. Now as an aspiring sports journalist at Folio Weekly, he looks to take after the people he used to look up to. Even when he is not writing about sports, he's usually at home binging old highlights or catching up on the latest news in sports.