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Northeast Legislators Back Sales Tax Boost for Jaguars' Stadium

February 21, 2013 - 6:00pm

Unlike the funding method requested for the Miami Dolphins, an effort to direct tax dollars for upgrades at the home of the Jacksonville Jaguars has the support of the members of the legislative delegation in Northeast Florida.

A group of 16 legislators, comprising both parties, has announcedsupport for House Bill 721 and Senate Bill 922 that would double the amount of sales taxes that could be used by the city to pay for improvements to EverBank Field, which is home to the Jaguars and the annual University of Florida-University of Georgia football clash.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Travis Cummings, R-Orange Park, would provide the Jaguars with $2 million in sales tax rebates for 12 years on top of the $2 million the team and city have used since 1995.

After 12 years, when the original tax break expires, the new rebate would continue for another 18 years.

Weve got to take care of the stadium, Cummings told the Florida Times-Union. It helps us compete for BCS games, its a big deal for Florida-Georgia and helps put North Florida on the map.

While neither bill has cleared the first committee step, the proposal is one of a number seeking tax dollars to help for upgrades or construction.

The highest profile has been Senate Bill 316, that seeks to let Miami-Dade County officials approve an additional penny bed tax that would help cover the public portions of $400 million in renovations to the 25-year-old Sun Lite Stadium in Miami Gardens.

The bill, which has been backed by the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee, also provides the team --which must cover at least 51 percent of the upgrades --with $3 million in sales tax breaks for 30 years

But unlike Jaguars, the delegation from Miami-Dade failed to include the stadium among its priorities for 2013, the Miami Herald reported.

The Dolphins bill is one of many member bills that was not discussed," Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami, told the Herald. Not one legislator moved to make the Dolphins bill one of our priorities.

The Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee has also backed Senate Bill 358, which could help two Florida cities attract Major League Soccer by offering up to $2 million a year in local sales tax money for 30 years.

The Orlando City Lions, which is seeking to acquire a Major League Soccer franchise, is working with the city and county on plans for an 18,000-seat, $105 million stadium.

Reach Jim Turner at or at (772) 215-9889.

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