Sam's Commentary

August 20, 2016 Commentary Archive

South End Zone Project: Khan Wants To Get It Right

by Sam Kouvaris
Posted August 20, 2016 ===========================================================================

In February of this year when the Jaguars made a big splash unveiling their Shipyards project vision; Jaguars Owner Shad Khan said a renovation of the South End Zone could be completed before the 2016 football season began.

While the project went through various design stages and permitting processes, that timeline got pushed back with Khan saying, "We're only going to build this once, so let's get it right."

Today's announcement of the project called "Daily's Place" as part of a multi-year naming rights agreement put the completion in March of 2017.

At the original announcement seven months ago, Khan told me he'd like to see the Jacksonville host the NFL Draft. He reiterated that today.

"It could be a great venue for the draft with all the amenities," Khan said. "We're going do our utmost."

Last year's draft was held in and around Grant Park near Chicago's waterfront. The NFL estimated 750,000 people made their way through the exhibits, displays and temporary amphitheater over four days.

All along Khan has said his vision was "iconic, a signature piece for Jacksonville." Today's renderings backed up his idea of more "Sydney opera house" than strip mall.

Here's how they describe the combination covered practice field and entertainment venue in today's press release:

Daily's Place will house the new 5,500-person capacity amphitheater and 94,000-square foot covered flex field, as well as a luxurious back-of-house artist building. The soon-to-be-iconic superstructure will reside underneath a roof that covers both venues. Fabric and steel comprise more than eighty percent of the design materials for the project. Polytetrafluoroethylene ("PTFE") fabric will be suspended from a series of steel trusses, each spanning 430 feet from the south end zone of the stadium to the southern fa├žade of the flex field.

Daily's Place will be fully integrated into EverBank Field, creating a cohesive environment for events and festivals to utilize the entire stadium premises. At the ground level, the new south end zone field super-tunnel will lead to a brand new central bar connected to the amphitheater entrance. The existing Bud Light Party Zone and Terrace Suite areas will now be linked to the amphitheater's elevated seating decks via access bridges at each level.

The covered flex field includes a regulation size football field with over 20 feet of auxiliary space around the artificial playing surface. At its highest point along the 50-yard-line, the roof rises nearly 80 feet. Flanked on the north and south side by massive hangar doors, the facility can be used independently or opened up to the amphitheater via a sliding door behind the stage that measures approximately 53 feet tall by 60 feet wide. Along the south side of the property are four more sliding doors of similar size that, when opened, create an open air experience measuring 222 feet wide. When the doors are closed to the flex field, the space is fully climate controlled.

With the inside of the stadium renovations completed, for now, Khan says the south end zone project will provide the impetus to get the entire Shipyards project going.

"What this means for the Shipyards is very good, because you have to have some inertia to get something going," Khan said. "We have now, across the highway, would be a great opportunity for a high-end hotel and convention center, which really this town needs. We'll try to work with the city and then as you move towards downtown, the city is wrestling with a lot of challenges environmentally. As that is addressed, then you can really have the growth. I think it's very good. It's embryonic, but important."

All along developers have known that the old Jacksonville Shipyards was an environmental challenge, costing upwards of $50 million to clean up before any construction can begin. The city, as well as Khan, is trying to engage the State of Florida and the federal government to participate in the cleanup.

Starting at the stadium and moving west, Khan wants to reshape downtown, saying a strong urban core is a vital part of any city's success. He originally wanted to buy the Jacksonville Suns franchise from the Bragan family as part of the project but the timing and the price at the time weren't right.

"These new facilities are part of our ambitious vision for the future of downtown Jacksonville as a world-class sports and entertainment destination," Khan said today. "The proximity of Daily's Place to the St. Johns River, EverBank Field and the Sports Complex will further shape the identity of Downtown Jacksonville as a cool place to be. And, we should expect all of this to serve as a catalyst for future development in the area. It's a great day for Jacksonville."

Commentary by Sam Kouvaris

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