Jacksonville Municipal Stadium: Wikis

  
  

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Jacksonville Municipal Stadium
Jacksonville Municipal Stadium.JPG
Former names Alltel Stadium (1997-2007)
Location 1 Stadium Place, Jacksonville, Florida 32202
Coordinates 30°19′26″N 81°38′15″W / 30.32389°N 81.6375°W / 30.32389; -81.6375Coordinates: 30°19′26″N 81°38′15″W / 30.32389°N 81.6375°W / 30.32389; -81.6375
Broke ground 1994
Opened August 18, 1995
Owner City of Jacksonville
Operator Spectacor Management Group
Surface Grass
Construction cost $121 million (1995 Renovation)
Architect Populous (1995 Renovation)
Structural engineer Bliss and Nyitray, Inc.
Capacity 76,867 (Current Permanent Seats Capacity)
73,000 (Opening Capacity)
67,164 (Jacksonville Jaguars games with tarps over 9,703 Seats)
84,000+ (College Football / Super Bowl / other Special Events with temporary End Zone Bleachers)
Tenants
Jacksonville Jaguars (NFL) (1995-present)
Gator Bowl (NCAA) (1996-present)
ACC Championship Game (NCAA) (2005-2007)
River City Showdown (NCAA) (2007-present)
Florida vs. Georgia Football Classic
(College Football) (1995-present)
Super Bowl XXXIX (2005)

Jacksonville Municipal Stadium is a football stadium located in downtown Jacksonville, Florida next to the St. Johns River. It is the home stadium facility of the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL franchise. The stadium sits on 10 acres (40,000 m²) of land, including portions of the original Gator Bowl Stadium; it had a capacity of 73,000 when re-opened and expansions over the past decade have since increased that to 76,867.

Municipal Stadium is used primarily as a professional football facility but does host other events including monster truck shows and concerts. It also hosts a number of annual college football games, including the Florida vs. Georgia Football Classic each year between The University of Florida and The University of Georgia, and a post-season bowl game, the Gator Bowl, which pits teams from either the Big East or Big 12 conferences against an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent. The stadium is also a former site of the Atlantic Coast Conference football championship game.

Contents

Construction

The stadium was built using portions of the historic Gator Bowl Stadium, itself dating from 1949. However, all of the elements included from the older stadium—the pedestrian ramp system and the more recent West Upper Deck section of the complex—dated back only to 1982. Construction started January 3, 1994 and the new stadium opened on August 18, 1995 with an exhibition game with the St. Louis Rams. Total construction time was under 20 months and total cost was $134 million – $60 million of which was provided by the city of Jacksonville.

Planning

In January 1993, representatives from the Universities of Florida and Georgia began negotiating with Jacksonville representatives to renew the contract to host the Florida vs. Georgia Football Classic, the annual rivalry football game between the two universities. The two teams' five-year contract with the Gator Bowl ended after the 1994 game, and the Citrus Bowl had offered Florida and Georgia a larger sum of money than the Gator Bowl for the right to host the game.[1]

To counter the Citrus Bowl's larger monetary offer, Jacksonville mayor Ed Austin proposed a $25 million renovation plan to Jacksonville's aging Gator Bowl Stadium, which had been built in 1949. Both teams had expressed concerns about the condition of the aging stadium, and renovations were considered key to enticing the teams to keep returning to Jacksonville, bringing tens of millions of dollars in consumer spending with them.[2] Despite the promise of renovations, Georgia athletic director Vince Dooley was unswayed,[3] so Austin widened the scope of the renovations, increasing their price tag to $49 million, and traveled to Athens, Georgia, to talk with Dooley in person.[4] Austin's campaigning was partially successful. On March 23, 1993, the two universities announced they had signed a five-year contract with the Gator Bowl, running from 1997 to 2002. The contract was contingent on Austin successfully passing the $49 million renovation bond issue through the Jacksonville City Council and the city completing the renovations by the 1996 game.[5] On Tuesday, May 11, the Jacksonville City Council approved a $219.5 million bond issue, including the $49 million for the renovation of the Gator Bowl.[6][7]

NFL expansion

Soon after the approval of the bond issue, investors interested in attracting a new National Football League team to Jacksonville requested that another $30 million be added to the $49 million renovations in order to make the stadium more attractive for a professional team.[8] That number climbed higher throughout the summer, and eventually the city reached an agreement with the leading group of investors hoping to attract an NFL team to Jacksonville. On July 1, the city and investors reached a lease agreement contingent on the city investing $112.3 million for improving the Gator Bowl.[9] The lease agreement later collapsed when the Jacksonville City Council voted to send the lease back to a committee for further study rather than approving it.[10] One month after the proposed deal fell through, city officials and investors tried again and were successful in negotiating a deal that included a pledge to spend $121 million on renovations to the Gator Bowl.[11] Due to the expanded renovations, it was announced that the 1994 Florida-Georgia game would have to be moved out of the Gator Bowl, as had the 1995 game, in order to provide time for the newly expanded renovation plan to be completed before 1996.[12] In the end, the expanded bond issue and renovation program proved to be successful, as Jacksonville was awarded the 30th NFL franchise—the Jacksonville Jaguars—on December 1, 1993.[13]

Almost as soon as the celebration surrounding Jacksonville's new NFL team died down, however, a renovation contractor's plan to give eight percent of the stadium work to minority-owned businesses drew criticism. The NAACP and another group said African-American businesses should have been awarded twice that amount of work.[14]

Current Stadium

Municipal Stadium's re-opening day was also the home debut of the Jaguars during the 1995 NFL season. It was the first time that an expansion NFL team had played its first game in a new facility. The Gator Bowl returned as a New Year's Day bowl game on January 1, 1996, following the 1995 NCAA season.

In 1997, the stadium changed its name to Alltel Stadium after naming rights were acquired by Alltel, a telecommunications company best known as a wireless carrier. The name Alltel Stadium stopped being used by the city after January 2007 when the contract expired.

2005–present

The escalators outside the stadium

In 2005, the stadium hosted Super Bowl XXXIX in which the New England Patriots defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 24–21 in front of 78,125, the largest Super Bowl in attendance since 1994. In 2003 and 2004, $47 million in improvements to the stadium were implemented to prepare for the Super Bowl. These improvements included the addition of a unique sports bar in the south end zone called the "Bud Zone," a larger and wider scoreboard display, escalators in the north and south end zone, and a new "terrace suite" right above the "Bud Zone" in the south endzone.

Before the 2005 season, mainly due to low attendance figures and looming blackouts, team officials installed a series of tarps to reduce the seating capacity for Jaguars games. The covers were placed to block out seven sections in the upper north endzone and four in each upper deck section, located on the corners of each. This puts 9,703 seats out of service, leaving the stadium with 67,164 seats per home game. Per NFL policy, the tarps have to stay on even during playoff games. Despite the changes, however, blackouts have still occurred, including two of their first three home games in 2007: against the Atlanta Falcons on September 16 and against the Houston Texans on October 14.[15][16] In 2009, nine of ten games were blacked out locally due to insufficent ticket sales, with only the final home engagement of the regular season, with the popular Indianapolis Colts, managing to sell out.

For the Super Bowl, Florida-Georgia game, and occasionally the Gator Bowl, temporary bleachers are put up in the south end zone and the tarps are removed, raising capacity to over 84,000.

The attendance record was set on September 29, 2007 when 85,412 watched Florida State defeat Alabama in what was dubbed the River City Showdown.[17] Each school received nearly 36,000 tickets, and the Gator Bowl Association was cajoled into adding 5,800 additional seats.[18]

On May 6, 2009 Jacksonville’s Economic Commission’s Sports Director said that WrestleMania may be hosted by the stadium in 2012 or 2014.[citation needed]

References

  1. ^ Snook, Jeff. "UF-Georgia negotiations start today", Palm Beach Post. January 12, 1993. Page C1.
  2. ^ Florida Sun-Sentinel staff reports. "College Football," South Florida Sun-Sentinel. January 22, 1993. Page C2.
  3. ^ Palm Beach Post staff reports. "Georgia may move '96 game to Athens", The Palm Beach Post. February 18, 1993. Page C8.
  4. ^ Sun-Sentinel staff and wire reports. "Sports in brief", South Florida Sun-Sentinel. March 4, 1993. Page C2.
  5. ^ Dame, Mike. "Florida-Georgia moving for '95", The Orlando Sentinel. March 23, 1993. Page D1.
  6. ^ The Associated Press. "Gator Bowl gets funds for repairs", St. Petersburg Times. May 12, 1993. Page C6.
  7. ^ Harry, Chris. "Gator Bowl plan OK'd to delight of UF, Georgia", The Tampa Tribune. May 12, 1993. Page Sports 5.
  8. ^ Tampa Tribune staff. "Pro football", Tampa Tribune. May 14, 1993. Page Sports 2.
  9. ^ Banks, Don. "NFL expansion a fleeting dream for Jacksonville", St. Petersburg Times. July 2, 1993. Page C1.
  10. ^ Tampa Tribune staff report. "TD Jax! pulls out of race", The Tampa Tribune. July 22, 1993. Page Sports 9.
  11. ^ Sun-Sentinel staff. "Jacksonville back in race", South Florida Sun-Sentinel. August 25, 1995. Page C6.
  12. ^ Snook, Jeff. "UF could host 1994 Georgia game", The Palm Beach Post. September 1, 1993. Page C9.
  13. ^ Browning, Michael. "Fantastic finish wins NFL team for Jacksonville", The Miami Herald. Dec. 1, 1993. Page A1.
  14. ^ The Associated Press. "Groups criticize contractor's plan", South Florida Sun-Sentinel. December 25, 1993. Page A26.
  15. ^ http://www.cbs47.com/news/local/story.aspx?content_id=88585f9c-7943-4f98-8b3f-05803c1c7506
  16. ^ http://www.cbs47.com/news/local/story.aspx?content_id=54c937b1-1074-4807-83f1-1728798e7662
  17. ^ ESPN - Lee comes off bench, rescues Florida State from Alabama - NCAA College Football Recap
  18. ^ Nolesports.com

External links

Preceded by
Inaugural venue
Home of the
Jacksonville Jaguars

1995 – present
Succeeded by
Current
Preceded by
Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
Host of the
Gator Bowl

1995 – present
Succeeded by
Current
Preceded by
Inaugural venue
Host of
ACC Championship Game

2005 – 2007
Succeeded by
Raymond James Stadium
Preceded by
Reliant Stadium
Host of the Super Bowl
2005 (XXXIX)
Succeeded by
Ford Field
Preceded by
Mile High Stadium
Host of AFC Championship Game
2000
Succeeded by
Oakland Coliseum







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