"As a football fan, I'm all for it," Mr. Reagan said, "but I had serious concerns about how we spend our money. We are, in effect, turning $121 million over to a private corporation and letting them do with it what they want."
The private ownership group, Touchdown Jacksonville! Ltd., will rebuild the Gator Bowl with the city's funds, but without any city restrictions, he said. There is no requirement for competitive bidding or minority business partnerships. "And there's no real expectation it can be built for $121 million," Mr. Reagan said.
Meanwhile, an expansion of the port of Jacksonville, which would add thousands of high-paying jobs, was delayed, Mr. Reagan says.
"I do think it's a questionable expenditure for cities," he said. "But I guess I can't blame the NFL if cities are willing to do it."
Mr. Herbert and other civic leaders say the benefits the team will bring the city are invaluable.
"What is the likelihood that you would have called me yesterday and talked to me about Jacksonville for half an hour if we hadn't got a team?" he asked a Sun reporter. "That kind of notice we couldn't buy."
"Jacksonville needed something to celebrate how great it is," Mr. Herbert said. And at City Hall, Mr. Delaney agreed: "This ain't such a small city after all."