SMG, Global Spectrum Battle Over Operation Of Jacksonville Venues
While SMG "has the backing" of the Jaguars and AFL Sharks to run seven major venues across Jacksonville, including EverBank Field, Comcast's Global Spectrum "says it can do a better job and it may have the backing of the city," according to Jamie Smith of WAWS-FOX. If the mayor and the Jaguars "take separate sides there will be a showdown that could affect the future of the football team." SMG and Global Spectrum "submitted very different proposals" for running the facilities. SMG has "dramatically slashed it's fee to the city" from $1.2M to $125,000. Global Spectrum "is offering a base management fee of $300,000, but promises to make a $1.5 million investment to improve the facilities." It "might not be a simple matter of money and could actually come down to relationships." Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown is a "close friend" of lobbyist William Gray, whose firm "spent more than $110,000 the first quarter of this year lobbying on behalf of the Comcast Corporation." Comcast-Spectacor President & COO Peter Luukko "concedes his company's relationship with Gray works in his company's favor." Luukko said, "He's a part of our team. Obviously, this is a political process and to be able to utilize different people in town to get through the process is important to us." SMG "issued a formal protest of the city's actions last week after a sub-committee of high ranking members of Mayor Brown's office recommended the city sign with Global Spectrum." Brown said, "We all have relationships. But at the end of the day, it's what's in the best interest of the city that's going to take this to the next level" (ACTIONNEWSJAX.com, 7/10).
TROUBLE WITH THE TARPS: In Jacksonville, Vito Stellino noted Jaguars officials are trying to "come up with new ideas to improve the fan experience at EverBank Field this season." Jaguars President Mark Lamping said that the team will "make an announcement in August before the first preseason game outlining all the new features, though the stadium's new video scoreboards might not be installed before 2014." He added that the team is "finding it difficult to implement one of their bigger ideas -- taking the tarps off the covered seats without increasing the size of the stadium." Lamping: "We'd like to get something done this year, but maybe we won't be able to. It needs to be done in a way to enhance the fan experience as opposed to an advertising panel." Owner Shahid Khan earlier this year said of removing the tarps, "To me, every day I look at the tarps, it is like underachieving, and I can't wait to be able to do that" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 7/9).