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Shad Khan tells council $63M EverBank improvement plan necessary

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Updated: 11/07/2013 6:27 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jaguars president Mark Lamping said today's football fans are changing.

"Fans expect more," he said.

He said it's too easy for them to watch the game from home, so the team and the city need to sweeten the stadium experience.

Lamping said, "If we do not adapt to the changing needs of customers, we will wake up one day wondering what happened to that very successful franchise."

The team is suggesting $63 million worth of improvements to EverBank Field.  They want to install the world's largest video scoreboards and build a party deck at the north end zone.  

Team owner Shad Khan said he'll even put up $20 million of his own cash to help pay for the project.

"This is very important," he said. "We've been working on it.  We're putting our money where our mouth is.  We have got to get this thing done."

He's asking the city to pay for the rest.  New legislation proposes the city take out a $43 million loan and pay it back using bed tax money from hotel stays.

The proposal is getting mixed reviews by the City Council.

Councilman Stephen Joost said, "Well my concerns are, of course, spending $43 million of taxpayer money.  And I want to know how the citizens are gonna get a rate of return in their money."

City Council President Bill Gulliford said, "I think it works. I don't think we take any money away from the community in terms of libraries, police officers and the like.  And so let's move ahead."

Moving ahead is exactly what Khan and Lamping have in mind.  They need to sell tickets. And if the players can't do it, they hope creating the ultimate football experience will.

"Nothing would solve some of our problems quicker than a better football team on the field.  We know that," said Lamping.

Action News also got some clarification on the stadium "swimming pools" that everyone has been talking about. They were part of the party deck proposal. We learned that they're not really swimming pools, but more like fountains. Water features to make the stadium more attractive.
 
Thursday's City Council meeting was called specially to speed through the committee process, by getting everyone together at the same time.

Some council members still have questions, though.  So the full council will meet again Tuesday afternoon before the regularly scheduled meeting.  Ideally, members would like to vote on the legislation Tuesday night.
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