‘It’s been long overdue:’ Downtown Jacksonville business owners weigh in on Stadium of the Future

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — With the “Stadium of the Future” deal now moving forward, downtown businesses are weighing in on the financial impact.

Foot traffic that owners rely on during football season could soon dwindle, but the hope is that down the line, the new stadium will bring in even more fans to make up for the lull.


“The whole city is actually excited about getting a new stadium,” Kacheryl Gantt said. “It’s been long overdue.”

Gantt is the owner and sole employee of the Avenue Grill on A. Philip Randolph Boulevard.

RELATED: ‘Proud to be a Jacksonville citizen:’ What the Stadium of the Future deal means to residents

With construction expected to start after the 2025 season, reduced capacity in 2026, and the 2027 season being played outside of the Jacksonville market, businesses could feel the impact financially. But, Gantt believes it will pay off in the end.

“I’m actually gonna be one of the first small businesses amongst others that are actually gonna have a kiosk inside the stadium,” Gantt said. “I will have a concession stand inside the new Stadium of the Future.”

During a Wednesday news conference, Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan said this deal with bring Jacksonville’s downtown to the next level.

RELATED: ‘We have scored a touchdown:’ $1.4B Stadium of the Future deal approved by council

“We’re investing. The whole Northbank of the river is changing, not only with the cranes you see at the Four Seasons complex, but other things coming,” Khan said. “The train is moving.”

Kristi Sweeney is the director of sports management and teaches sports finance at the University of North Florida. She said anchoring a stadium in an urban core redevelopment is typically very successful.

“That’s one of the things Jacksonville lacks, in a sense, is a thriving downtown,” Sweeney said. “This stadium becomes a very important piece of that redevelopment.”

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Sweeney adds that for the community investment piece, it’s important to redevelop the urban core so people want to not only work downtown but live there too.

While business owners said they hope the project pays off, Gantt acknowledges owners will need to get creative.

“I believe it will be up to the businesses to make something to keep going to fill that void so that we can continue to make money when the stadium, when the games aren’t here,” Gantt said.

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We reached out to the City of Jacksonville to ask how it plans to keep foot traffic downtown during the construction of the stadium, specifically in obtaining big entertainers for venues like Daily’s Place and VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena.

A spokesperson sent us this statement in response:

“We have already seen bigger shows in 2023 and 2024 and anticipate that trend to continue. Our venue manager, ASM Global will remain diligent in their efforts to secure concerts, sporting and family events at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena. They are aware of the need to enhance those efforts when stadium will be offline and will keep us apprised of any additional opportunities. As for Daily’s Place, the Jaguars/Bold Events leverage their relationship with Live Nation to book that venue and will remain aggressive in securing concert traffic, pending construction impacts to the venue that are at this time unknown.”

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