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EXCLUSIVE: WLBT obtains JSU Stadium Feasibility Study showing top picks for new stadium site

Published: Apr. 20, 2022 at 8:39 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - More state lawmakers are speaking out about a failed bill that would have allocated $40 million to Jackson State to build a new stadium.

Tuesday, we told you a senate bill died in committee due to a location dispute.

While just about about everyone agrees that the Jackson State Tigers need a new stadium, where to put it has been up for debate.

A recent disagreement over the location was a main cause for the funding bill to die. 3 On Your Side recently obtained the JSU Stadium Feasibility Study the state paid a quarter-million-dollars for to find out the results.

Four locations were identified and examined: Three in the downtown area and the other near the western edge of the central business district.

According to the recent study, the riverfront location near the Pearl River and Jefferson Street came in as the number two pick for a future stadium site.

Some of the reasons include: the convenience, direct visibility from Interstate 55, and it is a gateway into the downtown area and Jackson State University.  

The research shows that additional funding will be needed to connect the site through downtown into the JSU campus, and there could possible be land acquisition and environmental challenges.

“From what I understand, it has some history of flooding, it’s in a flood zone, and also some environmental issues from what I understand talking with someone that previously worked with the city,” Sen. Sollie B. Norwood.

Norwood and Sen. Hillman Frazier say some lawmakers are pushing for a downtown stadium.

“They might want to make sure the stadium is on the river so they can see it going gone back and forth on the highway, and some have a vested interest in the One Lake Project,” said Sen. Fraizer

The study shows an on-campus stadium was the number one pick for several reasons: a convenient location, no cost displacement and JSU owns the land near John R. Lynch Street and Dr. Robert Smith Sr. Parkway.

The on-campus location could also provide a variety of spaces for tailgating and RV parking. There is also great potential for both student and community-targeted commercial development in the area.

The senators agree and also support an on-campus stadium.

“The general population of students can walk here. If there is any costs for transportation, it won’t be nowhere close to with the university is paying now,” Sen. Norwood said.

“We spent $250,000 of state tax dollars for this feasibility study. We might as well follow the recommendation of the president because it was his charge and he did the job. Now, it’s time for legislators to do our job and come up with the funding for it,” said Sen. Fraizer.

Representative Chris Bell weighed in about a future location.

“I understand Jackson State is in a unique position because it is in the city of Jackson, which is the largest city in the state. Rightfully so, there should be some consideration to have something downtown, but if the university is set on having a university on their campus, which they own 24 or more acres of land that is free and clear of having a purchase land from any other individual or entity, I think it is right,” he said.

The third site under consideration is a portion of the existing Mississippi Fairgrounds in Jackson.

The study says the Fairgrounds site offers many of the same benefits and challenges as the Riverfront site. The report says existing parking at the fairgrounds can reduce the amount of new parking to be constructed.

Also, since the property is already owned by the state, the property acquisition phase could be greatly reduced.

The study point out that a new facility on this site could function as a gateway to downtown and the campus in a similar way, although student pedestrian traffic would also be difficult due to the distance from campus.

According to the study, the Jackson Downtown Site near the Jackson Convention Complex scored low enough on the feasibility matrix to warrant its elimination from the sites under consideration by this feasibility study.

The price tag for the new stadium is $120 million.

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