Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mayor Allots $1 Million for Baseball, Soccer Switch; Costs Include Movable Mound, New Signs When Armada Plays Matches on Suns' Field

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mayor Allots $1 Million for Baseball, Soccer Switch; Costs Include Movable Mound, New Signs When Armada Plays Matches on Suns' Field

Article excerpt

Byline: Teresa Stepzinski

Mayor Alvin Brown earmarked up to $1 million in his proposed city budget to convert the Baseball Grounds into the home soccer field of the new Armada Football Club.

The North American Soccer League franchise has a tentative three-year deal to play at the city-owned Baseball Grounds, which also is the home of the Jacksonville Suns minor league baseball team.

Still, Brown's proposed outlay for the Baseball Grounds appears to be much larger than the initial payback.

Armada President Steve Livingstone told the Times-Union his team will pay a per-game rental fee to the city based on a sliding scale.

"The minimum rent we'll be paying is $5,000 per game," Livingstone said. "Depending on our success in getting more than 5,000 people in the stadium, the rent will increase. So potentially, we could be paying up to $10,000 per game for 20 games."

That works out to about $100,000 to $200,000 a year in rent, which in itself is a lot less than the taxpayers' proposed investment.

However, the Armada also is proposing to pay a city surcharge on each of the game tickets sold, much the same way that the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Suns do now, Livingstone said.

"So the investment that the city is putting in will actually be matched when you factor in the city surcharge on the tickets," Livingstone said.

The Jacksonville City Council must approve that agreement. The council also must approve the mayor's request to spend up to $700,000 next year to convert the baseball field into a soccer pitch. The city is working with the Armada to lower those costs. As proposed, any costs over that $700,000 to change out the field for soccer play would be covered by the soccer team.

Brown also proposes the city make about $300,000 in stadium upgrades, one-time investments for a new removable pitcher's mound, camera stands and new signs to accommodate the Armada.

The team would receive about 30 percent of the concession sales, which it would use to offset operating costs on game day such as fees for employees who park cars or serve as ushers and stewards, Livingstone said.

"Any of the operational costs on game day, we're responsible for those, and that is up to $25,000 to $30,000 per game," Livingstone said. "There is a significant cost to host these games, and we are not asking the city to cover any of those costs. We are going to be providing those costs."

Negotiations, however, are ongoing to determine how much rent the Armada will pay, and other financial details, said David DeCamp, the mayor's spokesman.

The city's investment in the soccer team will pay dividends by bringing in soccer fans who will spend money, he said, and by giving the city positive national and international exposure.

"We have an obligation in a city-owned facility to make sure that we maximize its use as a destination and an entertainment venue. We know that soccer can be a significant driver to get people downtown," said DeCamp, citing the popularity of recent exhibition games. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.