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Mayor Deegan defends claim of whopping $26B stadium economic impact; ‘Over estimated’ says expert

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The details of the Jaguars stadium of the future have arrived in the present, but is it a gift or a burden?

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“I think they did a really good job marketing it,” says Kristi Sweeney who is a sports finance professor at the University of North Florida.

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The stadium part of the larger agreement is for $1.25 billion, split evenly between the city and Jaguars at $625 million, a number Action News Jax Ben Becker first reported on Monday.

The city’s portion will come out of the annual budget over the next four years as part of the Capital Improvement Plan and covered with borrowed money at an undetermined interest rate.

“I think it’s a swap in a sense,” says Sweeney.

Mayor Donna Deegan says the deal will provide a whopping $26 billion of economic impact over the length of the 30-year lease. Becker pressed her on that number because economist’s says economic impact is not revenue for a city, revenue is tax dollars.

RELATED: Mayor, Jaguars president, city negotiator present stadium deal to Jacksonville City Council

“Do we have a number on that, guys?” Deegan asked lead negotiator Mike Weinstein from the podium, but the number was not available.

She didn’t have it, but she did have a message for Becker.

“I know you [Becker] have been a huge skeptic of whether if these things are beneficial to the community,” said Deegan.

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.

In addition, according to the Journal of Sports Management, the estimated city revenue generated by the Jaguars from 1996-2007 was a mere $36.5 million over those two decades, far less than what was spent on stadium upgrades or subsidies during that time.

“I know a lot can be gained in throwing flames,” said Deegan. “This is a good deal, a great deal.”

As for Sweeney, she believes there is an economic benefit, but questions the mayor’s numbers.

RELATED: Jaguars stadium renovations deal: Here’s what we know about the cost, what will be built

“That is over-estimated I would say,” says Sweeney. “Is there such a thing as a good stadium deal?,” asked Becker. “It’s the cost of doing business [in the NFL],” responded Sweeney.

As for the Memo of Understanding released last year by the city under former Mayor Lenny Curry regarding an illustration of a potential agreement with the Jaguars, Deegan indicated she didn’t work off the MOU. Jaguars team president Mark Lamping downplayed the document, suggesting it didn’t have much to do with the deal announced on Tuesday.

To view the entire presentation and Q&A with Mayor Deegan, Jaguars President Mark Lamping, and city negotiator Mike Weinstein watch the YouTube video below:

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