There’s a freshness in the air in Jacksonville and surrounding the Jaguars’ organization, and that was felt even more on Thursday after the team unveiled a new plan, 1st Downtown Jacksonville, a brand, community and movement, all in one, said owner Jaguars team owner Shad Khan.
For years now, the Jaguars have unveiled rendering for their vision of how downtown Jacksonville should look. While much of it hasn’t come to fruition, including a Lot J plan that was struck down by the City of Jacksonville council last season, there was quite a different feeling in the aftermath of yesterday’s presentation.
The latest plan not only includes solutions for the currently vacant shipyards and surrounding area, but also a plan to build a 125,000-square-foot football performance center, a new home for the Jaguars’ football operations.
“My goal is for Downtown Jacksonville to be the envy of cities here in the U.S. and elsewhere, and I see no reason why we can’t achieve that goal,” said Khan.
“I am confident we have the local leadership, spirit and commitment to revitalize Downtown Jacksonville in a manner that will make the world take notice while also serving the needs of the community and the people who make Jacksonville their home.”
Phase 1 of the plans is set to include the construction of a Four Seasons Hotel, restored Metropolitan Park, a six-story office building and a “modernized city-owned marina with a park and multifunctional building.”
The Jaguars and Khan have pledged to do their part, planning to adopt Met Park through the city’s existing Private Park Adoption Program. In doing so, the Jaguars would be making a $4M, 20-year commitment to help keep the park clean, safe and well-maintained.
The second phase of development will include the construction of an orthopedic center of excellence and additional residential units.
This will include a 42,000 square-foot orthopedic sports medicine complex by Baptist Health/JOI. A sports medicine complex adjacent to the Jaguars’ headquarters gives players and athletes all of the care they’d need right in its virtual backyard, something that Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer feels strongly about.
1st Downtown Jacksonville is a platform created by the Jaguars to help communicate, advocate and unite supporters who share the same vision and enthusiasm they have for Downtown. Please visit https://t.co/UhmjhiTBBd to learn how you can join the team! #dtjax pic.twitter.com/QubndbIHNF— 1stDownTown (@1stdowntownjax) June 3, 2021
With the Football Performance Center, the Jaguars are planning to deliver a facility that will blend football performance and public access.
According to the Jaguars, the “current space dedicated to football operations inside TIAA Bank Field does not meet NFL team requirements. Creating a football performance center will allow the Jaguars team and football operations to move out of the stadium permanently, permitting stadium renovations to commence.”
The new performance center, which is anticipated to open in summer 2023, is planned to be co-funded by both the Jaguars and the City of Jacksonville, splitting the costs down the middle, $60M a piece. The Jaguars will also be responsible for any ongoing capital, maintenance and operational cost of the football facility.
While nothing is yet official, the features of the building are something that Meyer and the Jaguars organization have pinned for, for quite some time, and it appears likely to get done.
The new facility would include locker rooms, team and positional meeting rooms, training and recovery areas, medical support facilities, a state-of-the-art weight room, dining facilities, coaches and scouts’ offices, a draft room and public meeting space.
There will also be two full-size grass practice fields and a full-size indoor practice field.
With that, the current Flex Field, connected to Daily’s Place, could then be used by the COJ Parks and Recreation Department.
The Football Performance Center will be a 125,000-square-foot “football factory” to serve as the new home of the Jaguars Football Operations. This will allow us to open the current Flex Field for public use by the COJ Parks & Rec Department. #dtjax pic.twitter.com/RwGppIX9Qx— 1stDownTown (@1stdowntownjax) June 3, 2021
“The most valuable commodity of any organization of the players and how you invest back in the players. And that’s always been—for the last 30 years, I’ve always believed in that. I didn’t say, ‘Be soft,’ I didn’t say—whatever,” Meyer said shortly following the team’s practice on Thursday.
“I work people hard, bring out the greatness in them, but also treat them like gold, treat them right, the way they’re— really, they’ve earned that right as an NFL player, I think they’ve earned that right as a college football player, I think you’ve earned that right as a volleyball player.
“You’ve earned that right to get the very best treatment, the very best training that’s possible. And if you don’t get that, I think the players are getting the—that’s not fair.”
With the new Football Performance Center, the Jaguars will be doing just that - giving its players the best support it can, while also providing the organization with a new headquarters that will pave the way for any potential renovations of the current stadium down the line.