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Mayor-elect Donna Deegan’s negotiation team for Jags stadium deal starts to take shape

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Mayor-elect Donna Deegan will be in charge of striking a new stadium deal with the Jaguars on behalf of local taxpayers and we’re already starting to get an idea of what her negotiating team will look like.

During her campaign, Mayor-elect Donna Deegan vowed to bring in experienced negotiators to reach a deal for a stadium revamp.

“I think it’s gonna be very important to have folks who are used to negotiating these deals with the NFL,” said Deegan during Action News Jax’s mayoral debate in April.

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Her first pick to review the Jaguars’ initial framework has been announced as former State Representative and long-time Jacksonville political insider Mike Weinstein.

“He was when the Super Bowl came to town and tangentially involved in that process,” said UNF political science professor Dr. Michael Binder.

Binder noted Weinstein has worked on some big deals involving the city, but as far as working with the NFL goes, his experience is limited.

“It’s not clear that he’s ever negotiated a stadium deal directly,” said Binder.

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In an emailed statement Deegan acknowledged she still plans to bring in NFL experts by the time negotiations begin, adding “We’re not there yet”.

The final terms of any deal will be closely watched by taxpayers.

A UNF poll conducted last year found seven out of ten Jacksonville voters strongly opposed the city splitting the cost for a new $850 million stadium.

The current Jaguars proposal is for the city to cough up a billion dollars as part of a two billion dollar stadium revamp and entertainment district.

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“A fifty, fifty split is absolutely a terrible deal for this city,” said Skylar Zander, Florida State Director for the conservative thinktank Americans for Prosperity.

Zander, a Northeast Florida local, argued Deegan and her team shouldn’t even humor the proposal on the table.

“I think if I was the mayor, I’d be starting at zero,” said Zander.

Both Deegan and Weinstein were unavailable for interviews Wednesday, but Deegan’s team did send Action News Jax a statement on the Jaguars’ initial proposal.

“It’s a beautiful vision for economic revitalization,” said Deegan. “I look forward to a deal that is good for taxpayers which keeps the Jaguars in Jacksonville for generations to come.”

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