Action News Jax investigates if Daily's Place is a hit or flop for taxpayers

Daily's place barely breaks even

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Action News Jax is investigating whether taxpayers are getting the most bang for their buck at Daily's Place.

The city picked up half of the $90 million price tag to build Daily's in 2017, along with the Flex Field and new club seating at TIAA Bank Field.

“If you look at it purely dollars earned, dollars expended directly, it’s very low,” says Don Wiggins, Professor Emeritus of Accounting and Finance at the University of North Florida.

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Instead, most of the revenue from Daily’s Place is going to a company called Bold Events, which is owned by Jaguars' owner Shad Khan.

A new bill was recently filed with City Council that would appropriate $920,699 toward capital improvements and maintenance for Daily’s Place.

Action News Jax reporter Ben Becker requested from the city how much it has already spent to keep up the facility and how much revenue it has generated.

City officials told Becker it generated a total of $2,658,561 since 2017 with $1,729,000 already allocated to improvements.

Add in the $920,699 from the newly filed bill and the city has made a grand total of $8,862 so far on its multimillion dollar investment.

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“It goes back to theory of public choice and how should states, municipalities, governments spend its money,” Wiggins said.

The city has little ability to collect significant revenue besides a surcharge on parking and tickets. It is also only guaranteed five events a year at the facility.

Becker contacted the city for comment on the deal and they sent him this statement from Chief Administrative Officer Brian Hughes, who referenced the entire Sports & Entertainment Complex:

"VyStar Veterans Arena, the Baseball Grounds, TIAA Bank Stadium, Daily's Place Amphitheater, and the Flex field are all city-owned facilities part of an active, vibrant and expanding Sports and Entertainment district in our downtown. The investment of city funds for the construction of the amphitheater and Flex field was a 50 percent match from the developer. The negotiated agreement for revenue sharing acknowledges the 50/50 split for construction of these 100 percent city-owned assets. Stated another way, taxpayers own a $90 million dollar asset for the cost of $45 million. The facilities are integral to our city having a broad array of event venue sizes and capabilities."
 
"You correctly note that the sustained costs for maintaining and improving the amphitheater and Flex field are met via the revenue sharing in the current agreement. In fact, again correctly noted, is that we generate a surplus. In this calculation, it is worth noting the frequency of events in the amphitheater has continued to increase since 2017 - as these new additions are added to the mix of venues we can offer. This increase in activation of all the city-owned venues will continue to yield benefits to taxpayers, Jacksonville's economic development, and the region's quality of life."

Wiggins says it will take more time and studies to determine if it’s nicer here at Daily’s Place for taxpayers.

“This is just creating overall buzz for the city,” Wiggins said. “The hope is and it is a big hope over time that it has a benefit to the city.”