JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The ink was hardly dry on the deal when Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown announced his pick for management rights to EverBank Field and the city's six other major facilities.
Brown and SMG CEO Wes Westley signed the contract only an hour before they appeared with Jaguars owner Shad Khan on the front steps of city hall. Khan and the Jaguars threw their support behind SMG from the beginning.
"We are one of the smaller franchises and we have to do things a little bit differently and more proactively, frankly, to keep our fans and to have them keep coming back," said Khan.
SMG, has managed EverBank Field for 20 years and claimed its opponent, Global Spectrum, cheated during the bidding process because its parent company, Comcast, has a monopoly in Jacksonville's cable market.
This marked the first time in 20 years SMG's management rights were challenged. That sparked a heated showdown between SMG and Philadelphia-based Global Spectrum.
Mayor Brown says he put the contract up for competitive bid to save taxpayer dollars.
"I we have an excellent deal," said Brown. At the end of the day it's all about Jacksonville. It's all about making sure we protect taxpayers money and resources, we leverage our assets."
Action News obtained the contract and discovered SMG cut its management fee from $934,252 to just $100,000. SMG also pledges to make a capital contribution in the amount of $1 million each year to the City of Jacksonville.
CEO Wes Westley said SMG structured a deal the city couldn't refuse.
"It's probably more aggressive than it is in other cities," said Westley. "I'll be the first to tell you that. And that, to me, is an indication of how much we want to be in this market."
The new SMG contract will last for 3 years starting from Oct. 2012.
According to Mayor Brown, the taxpayers will save $1 million annually throughout the length of the contract.
The agreement contains clear benchmarks to govern SMG’s performance of its facilities management responsibilities and serve as a basis for the city's decision on whether it will exercise its option to extend the contract.
Action News reached out to Global Spectrum for comment. The company's spokesman, Ike Richman, sent us this statement, "We are very disappointed with today's announcement. We were informed that we had been recommended as the best management company for the venues in Jacksonville as suggested by the selection committee. It does seem strangely peculiar to reward a company who has been significantly overcharging the city and tax payers for years. Since we were only informed of this change approximately 10 minutes before the announcement, we are exploring our options as it relates to today's announcement while we await an explanation."