Some components of Jackson State University’s domed stadium proposal plan are still in development, but we can address many frequently asked questions. This stadium is not just for JSU; it will be available to the City of Jackson, the region and the entire State of Mississippi. All can participate with events in the domed stadium.
Why a domed stadium?
There is no facility in Jackson or the region that can accommodate a crowd of 10,000 or more for concerts, sporting activities, professional team exhibitions or special events while protecting spectators from inclement weather and summer heat. Jackson misses out on such major events because it currently has no venue. By working with SMG management group, which has relationships with 200 stadiums and arenas, Jackson State University will be able to route such events to the stadium. JSU will only use the facility up to 50 days a year so the space can be rented for numerous other events. The stadium is based on the concept of the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y., which serves Syracuse University and the community with about 220 events a year.
Why 50,000 seats for football?
The goals of this project were to “think big” and do something that changes the dynamics of JSU, the City of Jackson and the State of Mississippi. The dome will be that game changer.
The difference in cost to build 35,000 versus 50,000 seats is about $12 to 14 million. It is a better investment to build big now rather than to incur additional costs for future expansions. JSU’s enrollment plan calls for 15,000 students in a few years. As the student population grows, so will game attendance. If each student brought a friend to a football game, we could have 25,000 to 30,000 people in attendance. In the future, additional activities such as professional football team exhibitions, NBA exhibitions and/or games, Battle of the Bands events and more will need the large seating capacity.
Who will be the architect on the project?
George Heery, a principal with the Brookwood Group and former owner of Heery International, is the lead architect. Heery has been involved in more than 120 projects around the world. He designed the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y., which is the model for JSU’s project. Heery has a terrific record of minority participation as he worked with Andrew Young and Maynard Jackson on numerous projects in Atlanta and used those experiences in many of his projects around the country and world.
How much will the stadium cost?
The stadium will cost $200 million.
How will the stadium be funded?
Currently, there are 14 possible funding streams of various dollar amounts. They include personal seat licenses, box rentals, state of Mississippi contributions, city of Jackson TIF funding, Hinds County support, student fees, New Market Tax Credits, other tax credits, federal assistance, concession and beverage rights, naming rights, amusement taxes and stadium entrance fee taxes. Along with these funding streams, additional options are being explored.
Why is JSU asking the state of Mississippi for funding for the stadium?
Every publicly-funded university in Mississippi has a stadium on campus, except JSU. Each school initially received funding from the state to construct its stadium. Furthermore, JSU is a state entity and plays a vital role in the economic development of the city of Jackson, the region and the state.
How will the state help fund this project?
The state can issue general obligation bonds, which JSU is not required to pay back because the project is considered an investment in the state. The process of issuing bonds for investments in state entities has been in place for decades. As the bonds are paid off, new bonds can be used to maintain the debt ratio. It is projected that Mississippi’s 7 percent amusement tax, applied to every ticketed event in arenas, stadiums and theaters, will generate $80 million over the next 20 years. Half of that, $40 million, will go back to the state, which is an added benefit to the state’s contribution.
There are additional bonds known as revenue bonds that are tied to the repayment plans. For example, the other half of the Mississippi amusement tax ($40 million) can be used to create a revenue bond. This bond will be repaid from the tax revenues collected each year. Another example could be from sponsorships and naming rights. The revenues from sponsorships can be packaged to create a revenue bond for $30 million. It would be repaid from sponsorship proceeds.
Will student fees be used to pay for the stadium?
Modest student fees are one of the 14 options being explored to fund part of the stadium. Many universities across the nation have used this technique to enhance student unions, health centers, parking garages and athletic facilities. Students will be able to enter all JSU-sponsored events in the new stadium for free.
Will JSU own the stadium?
The stadium will be owned by a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC), which will be owned by the Jackson State University Development Foundation (JSUDF). The JSUDF exists solely to support JSU and is closely related to the university but legally separate.
Who will manage the stadium?
The JSUDF will enter into a contract with SMG, one of the largest and best stadium management companies in the world, to manage the facility and book additional activities in the stadium.
How often will JSU use the stadium?
JSU will use the stadium rent-free between 45 and 50 days per year for football and basketball games and other special events. The facility will be rented out for an additional 150 days a year.
What impact will the stadium have?
JSU envisions the stadium as more than just a university facility. The stadium is designed to support the city, county and state by providing a venue for conventions, conferences, concerts and other special events. Some consider the stadium a “game changer,” because Jackson would be able to draw major concerts that have previously passed the city by and be able to attract major high school to profession sporting events.
Where will the stadium be located?
Four locations near JSU’s main campus have been selected as possibilities. There is a preferred site, but a final decision has not been made as numerous factors must be considered. The stadium plans fit into each of the possible locations.
Will JSU use “quick take” to take properties?
No, there are currently no plans for “quick take” eminent domain takeovers.
Will there be enough parking?
Yes. The design includes 4,500 parking spaces, and 4,000 additional spaces exist on the JSU campus. Another 2,000 are located in garages downtown where shuttle buses can help on big game and event days.
Will there be tailgate and RV areas?
Yes, there are plans for a tailgate and RV area.
Why did JSU go public with the plans if they are not finalized yet?
JSU has not held a press conference or made a formal announcement about the final plans. We have held briefings with high-ranking state and local officials and legislators, some IHL board members, the Chamber of Commerce and the Jackson Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Board of Directors, Vision 2020’s Arena Committee, the JSU National Alumni Association Board and the Tiger Fund executive committee. We presented conceptual drawings and potential financial options. All documents were labeled “draft” as details continue to change.
Plans for the stadium were shared with the JSU campus at President Carolyn W. Meyers 2013 Spring Update. As they frequently do, local media covered the event and reported news about our stadium plans. We have yet to formally announce our final plans for the stadium.