INVESTIGATES: Stadium deal good for taxpayers or ‘handout’ to Jaguars’ billionaire owner Shad Khan?

Action News Jax Investigates is looking into if the proposed EverBank Stadium renovation is a good deal for taxpayers or is “just a handout” to Jacksonville Jaguars billionaire owner Shad Khan.

The City of Jacksonville and the Jaguars are teaming up on the “stadium of the future, but there are questions about stadium deals in the past.


The tentative agreement is scheduled to be unveiled in front of city council on Tuesday.

“When it comes to stadium deals is there such a thing as a good deal for taxpayers?” Action News Jax’s Ben Becker asked economist Victor Matheson.

“Very rarely,” Matheson said.

RELATED: Sources revealing to Action News Jax’s Ben Becker details of Jacksonville’s $1.25B stadium deal

Matheson is a professor of economics at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts and has studied the economics of stadiums for decades.

“We typically find NFL teams have little to no economic impact on local economies,” Matheson said. “Most stadium subsidies are basically just a handout from regular taxpayers to rich team owners.”

A recent survey of over 130 academic studies shows that the direct economic benefits of stadiums don’t match the mammoth amount of public money used to build them.

RELATED: Sources: City leaders want to use JEA as ‘piggy bank’ to help pay for stadium renovations

Becker learned from sources Monday that the city and Jags deal will be a 50/50 split, with each putting in $625 million of the $1.25 billion cost.

The initial memo of understanding reached between the Jaguars and former Mayor Lenny Curry last May had the city picking up 67% of the $1.4 billion stadium proposal, with a possible taxpayer cost of $800-$934 million -- but that was before a proposed entertainment district was taken off the table.

The city and team have tried to keep their playbook secret, but Becker learned in the past few weeks both intend to target the Eastside with up to $150 million as part of a community benefits agreement.

RELATED: Jacksonville Council to extend attorney’s contract until September 2025 to help usher stadium deal

It’s unclear if that $150 million figure is in addition to or part of the $625 million number.

Mike Weinstein, the city’s lead negotiator, would not confirm or deny Becker’s report on the $150 million in April.

“It might be right, it might be wrong, we are not finished yet,” Weinstein told Becker.

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Becker also found out from sources that the city is trying to increase JEA’s annual contribution to the general fund by $15 million to help offset the costs of the stadium, something the city denies.

Matheson said even if this viewed as the city negotiating a so-called good deal with the Jaguars, the taxpayer tab is still troubling.

“Economists looking at this who are not in the pocket of teams or leagues can’t seem to find these huge benefits that would justify that level [$625 million] of economic subsidy,” Matheson said.

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Buffalo and Nashville are both spending more than $750 million in public funds, but they both received state money, which is not the case in Florida.

Becker emailed the mayor’s office for comment to ask if the stadium deal makes financial sense for Jacksonville and did not hear back.

City Council still has to approve the deal, which will be reviewed by council in the next 60 days.

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