Well, this is unexpected. Following continuing conversations around the Jacksonville Jaguars’ proposed renovations to TIAA Bank Field, the team have expressed interest in a surprising location as temporary home field: Daytona International Speedway.
As confirmed by the Speedway’s president, Frank Kelleher, representatives from NASCAR, Daytona, and the Jags are expected to meet soon to explore the prospective relocation of games to the renowned racecourse.
“Daytona International Speedway is a world-renowned sports and entertainment venue and hosts a full schedule of events each year. As good neighbours in the Florida sports community, DIS will be speaking with the Jacksonville Jaguars to see if we can assist them with their potential upcoming facility needs around our scheduled events.”Frank Kelleher, Daytona International Speedway president
The Jaguars’ TIAA Bank Field contract expires in 2029. According to reports, getting a new lease would require permission from the NFL and 75% of the league’s owners, as well as improvements or a new stadium. The Jags could spend up to two years without a home if proposed renovations are approved. If a four-year reconstruction schedule is agreed, instead, the Jaguars would be permitted to continue hosting home games at TIAA Bank Field but, according to reports, that idea would raise the project’s cost by an extra $190 million.
Where else but Daytona?
The University of Florida’s Ben Hill Gryphon Stadium or Orlando’s Camping World Stadium – most recently home of the XFL’s Orlando Guardians – are the most probable replacement venues, with the University of North Florida’s Hodges Stadium also being an option, according to Jaguars President Mark Lamping. Lamping first mentioned Daytona as a potential location on Friday night and did not do so to rule it out.
An Iconic Sporting Destination
More accustomed to yellow flags of a different sort, Daytona International Speedway is amongst the most famous motoring ovals in the world. Since opening in 1959, it has been the home of the Daytona 500, the most prestigious race in NASCAR as well as its season opening event.
Daytona International Speedway is approximately 90 miles from downtown Jacksonville and has a seating capacity of 101,500 for racing events. However, Kelleher suggested that this capability would likely be greatly decreased for football. “The number of seats in the grandstand with good visibility would probably be more in the 45,000 to 50,000 range,” he added.
The notion of football at Daytona is not without precedent. The International Speedway has hosted football games in the past. There were a few high school games played there in 1959, and Bethune-Cookman has participated in four games at the speedway, most notably a 6-0 victory over Florida A&M in front of an estimated 32,000 fans in 1974. Almost ten years ago, in 2014, Joie Chitwood, former track president, showed interest in again playing college football games there. This never came to fruition.
Would you like to see football played at Daytona? Where else would you prefer to see the Jags play? Orlando? London? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below and stay tuned to JEZ Sports for further updates.