The proposal for a new Jacksonville Armada pro-soccer stadium could yield an additional economic benefit beyond soccer and other events, with corporate offices a crucial part of the plan.
Under owner Robert Palmer, the Armada is proposing the construction of a new stadium with upwards of 10,000 seats on five acres of land near the Downtown Sports Complex currently owned by the city. Construction of the stadium would be privately financed by Palmer, with the facility to serve as the anchor of a redevelopment initiative that includes as much as 175,000 square feet of commercial office space and 100-200 parking spaces.
For right now, Palmer and the city are awaiting Jacksonville City Council approval of a proposed option agreement, which would advance discussions between the two sides. While it will take time for any project to move forward together, one benefit that Armada officials are noting is the office component of the concept. Palmer is the founder and CEO of the Robert Palmer Companies, and the idea would be put some of his growing operations into the new office space. While Palmer has yet to announce which companies would set up shop at the stadium site, the potential to generate economic activity outside of soccer and other events at the venue is one benefit that Armada officials believe is notable. More from the Jacksonville Daily Record:
RP Funding opened in Baymeadows in 2016 and leases 26,500 square feet of office space at 8381 Dix Ellis Trail in Prominence office park. It has 175 employees.
Armada President and General Manager Nathan Walter said in an interview Friday that Palmer hopes to relocate Robert Palmer Companies operations from Baymeadows to the new stadium complex.
Walter said the announcement is expected within a year, but he could not confirm which companies will expand or how many jobs will be created.
“Robert has three or four companies in what we would call expansion mode right now. Part of this deal would be to bring those companies into that facility as well,” Walter said.
The next step will be the approval of the option agreement, though there are plenty of factors that will have to fall into place for the project to move forward. The site would have to be rezoned to accommodate a stadium, while the city needs a signoff from the University Athletic Association Inc. to leave the site off the list of available parking options for the annual Florida-Georgia college football game, and the Armada would have to conduct environmental testing on the property. The option would expire if no action is taken by January 31, 2023, while Palmer’s RP Sports would have to close by January 1, 2024 to avoid having the property revert to the city.
Should the concept move forward, the stadium would be located near a complex that features several professional sports venues, including TIAA Bank Field (home to the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars), Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville (MiLB’s Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp), and VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena (ECHL’s Jacksonville Icemen). It could also allow the Armada—a former NASL club that has been fielding a U-23 squad in the National Premier Soccer League—to move up to a higher level of soccer.
Rendering via Robert Palmer Facebook post.
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