During the Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency (IA) Board of Directors Meeting on Monday, the Board approved the$20 million request by Florida State University (FSU) to fund repairs and maintenance to Doak Campbell Stadium.
The item passed with a 5-2 vote by the county offical and a 3-2 vote by the city officials.
Those city officials supporting the investment were Mayor John Dailey, and City Commissioners Curtis Richardson and Dianne Williams-Cox. City Commissioners Jeremy Matlow and Jack Porter voted against the project.
On the county side, Commissioners Nick Maddox, Carolyn Cummings, Rick Minor, Jimbo Jackson, and Bill Proctor supported the funding. County Commissioners Kristin Dozier and Brian Welch voted against.
The request for funding was directed at the Office of Economic Vitality (OEV) which is charged with improving the local business climate with strategic investments. The OEV does not typically provide support for venue upgrades. However, it is acceptable if the project is deemed to improve the local economy.
Another complicating factor was the fact that only $20 million was available in bonding capacity via the Blueprint program managed by OEV.
The request by FSU is for financial assistance in addressing structural repairs to the stadium. A report prepared by EMI, a global architecture firm hired to provide assessment, identified 48 items requiring resolution to reach safe and accessible stadium usage.
The Center for Economic Forecasting and Analysis (CEFA) projected that the project would create 248 total jobs and $11.58 million in wages.
Currently, an FSU football season brings in more than $80.1 million in economic impact, $47.8 million is generated by direct spending from visiting fans. The expenditure by visiting fans supports 1,072 jobs and $24.5 million in wages.
As FSU adds enhancements to Doak Campbell Stadium and hosts additional events, an estimated $20.3 million will be added to the annual economic impact if the proposed stadium upgrades are completed.
Commissioner Rick Minor favored funding the project stating, FSU is “one of the biggest economic drivers in this community.” However, he said he was conflicted about having zero bonding capacity for future projects. Minor made a motion to approve the funding but to reduce the amount to $15 million. The motion eventually failed.
Commissioner Jeremy Matlow discounted what the funds would be used for and suggested the OEV “consider the funds a loan,” so the city and county could be reimbursed for their investment. Also, Matlow made a motion to approve $10 million in funding for FSU’s project. However, not to bond it and revisit the issue in February 2022 when the Board discusses the budget. This motion also eventually failed.
Both Commissioner Bill Proctor and Curtis Richardson ardently endorsed the funding. Richardson argued that FSU took over the financial responsibility of the Civic Center when it was “bleeding money” and the millage rate would have most surely gone up if they hadn’t done so. “Should we just forget that,” he added.
Proctor stated he didn’t understand why so many wanted to shut the project down and why they cite the southside community needs as one of the reasons to do so. Proctor said FSU and the stadium are open doors for people who live on the southside to enter a great institution and become young men and do great things.
Proctor voted no on the first two substitute motions and favored the original motion for a total of $20 million.