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COJ looking at buying $19,000 in Jaguars tickets, but who will foot the bill?

12:36 PM, Jun 25, 2012   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Will your tax dollars be paying for season tickets to Jaguars games?

An ordinance submitted to Jacksonville's City Council says yes, but a city councilman says no.

MORE: Jaguars meeting with city council members raises questions about Sunshine law violations

The ordinance 2012-380 was submitted during the Jacksonville City Council meeting on June 12.  It asks for $19,4456.80 to be used out of the Special Council Operating Contingency Fund to purchase 24-season tickets to one of the city's suites at Everbank field.

Chief Financial Officer Ronnie Belton says the money in the Special Council Operating Contingency Fund was general fund money that was set aside in 2008 to pay for statewide general ballots for the 2010 elections.  The ballots ended up not being needed, so Belton says the money has sat unused.

According to the city's lease agreement with the Jaguars, the city of Jacksonville has two suites set aside for them, but they have to purchase season tickets to use the suites.

For the past two years, Jacksonville has declined to buy the tickets.  During the 2011 season, the city told First Coast News the budget was too tight to pay for the tickets.  With money still tight this year, we asked city councilman Matt Schellenberg why he submitted the ordinance.

"I submitted this because I have a gentleman that is willing to pay the $19,000 some odd dollars to the city, so the city can buy the tickets. So there is no cost to the city," said Schellenberg.

Schellenberg says that gentleman is Harry Frisch with Beaver Street Fisheries.   First Coast news called Frisch to confirm the information and received a message back from his secretary saying the information we were told was incorrect.  This is the statement First Coast News received from Frisch:

"In an effort to support the Jacksonville Jaguars and at the same time, encourage growth and new relationships for the City of Jacksonville, Mr. Frisch agreed to call on other possible partners to contribute towards a Mayor's Suite at Everbank Field.  This would allow the Mayor the opportunity to meet with potential partners and visitors to the city in this venue, and forge new relationships for the growth and betterment of Jacksonville."

Ordinance 2012-380 currently mentions nothing about a private donor or donors, but Schellenberg said he is working on an amendment.

The city council has to tell the Jaguars by July 1st if they are going to be using their suites for this season or not.  We will keep you updated on what is decided. 

First Coast News

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