“Maybe If We Can Show As A State That We’re Committed To Him Staying” | Jackson City Officials Hustle for New Football Stadium To Keep Coach Prime At Jackson State

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The sudden rise of the Jackson State Tigers began when athletics director Ashley Robinson went against the grain and decided to court Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders for the head coaching position.

Sanders hit the road running in 2020, and even with COVID-19 forcing the postponement of the 2020 fall season to an abbreviated spring season, you could see what Sanders was about and what he wanted to accomplish.

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Fast-forward to 2021, and Sanders landed the 55th-ranked recruiting class, the highest-ever for an FCS program. A recruiting class that featured son Shedeur, a four-star recruit. In 2022, Sanders took it to another level, by out-recruiting Power Fives to land the nation’s top-ranked player, five-star Travis Hunter.

This doesn’t include all the other highly-rated recruits and transfers he’s secured. And to think he’s done this with limited resources and facilities that haven’t been significantly upgraded since his arrival. One major piece that is lacking as Jackson State football rises to national visibility is an on-campus stadium that Sanders and his Tigers can call home. That’s the type thing that sways recruits, and it’s vital in the cutthroat world of recruiting.

This week the Jackson City Council approved moving forward with plans to build a new stadium. It’s being done with the hope that Coach Prime will stay for the long term. He’s been getting the full court press from several Power Five programs ever since his Jackson State mission started to take off. 

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Georgia Tech, Arizona State, and even Auburn, which hasn’t relieved their current coach of his duties have been mentioned recently as schools looking to recruit Prime. Last season Sanders interviewed for two Power Five gigs while he was in the hospital recovering from toe/foot surgery. His name resonates the minute an opening comes available, and JSU is trying to be proactive.

In a presser, Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes had this to say.

“We’ve had so much success with our coach, Deion Sanders, Primetime, and it’s just the perfect time, if we’re going to get a new stadium, to start talking … and let’s try to make it a reality. We’re all hoping that Coach Prime stays in the city for a long period of time, but a lot of colleges and universities are trying to get his talents.”

Stokes added:

“Maybe if we can show, as a state, that we are committed to him staying, and to the new stadium, maybe it would encourage him to stay.”

Tigers Need A New On-Campus Facility: Sanders Mentioned That In February

The Tigers have played at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium since 1970, and while it holds over 60,000 fans, it’s outdated compared to today’s new state-of-the-art facilities. Plus it’s also a few miles away from campus, which in turn can hurt recruiting and fan support as it pertains to students.

In February, Sanders said he wanted a stadium built on campus and he wanted it to be built with state funds. That same month, Mississippi lawmakers approved $250K to begin the study of building a new stadium at JSU. 

In a statement, Sanders talked about the money the JSU program has made for the city and state.

“It is for the city. Our mayor is here. We are not paying for it. I’m letting you know. It’s going to be free because we made a lot of money for this city and we want some of it back,” Sanders said bluntly. 

Sanders Impact Has Been Huge For Revenue

Sanders’ arrival saw the city of Jackson’s football-related revenue double from 2020 to 2021. And those decision-makers want to continue to capitalize on his presence.

‘The City Has Seen About A $30 Million Revenue Increase’ | ‘Deion Sanders Effect’ Has Brought The Bag To Jackson Mississippi

Councilman Vernon Harley had this to say about it.

“We’re talking economic impact in the millions. If and when he decides to move on, it’s going to be a loss. We need to go ahead and take advantage of all these things we can do right now.”

While all that sounds good, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves isn’t too keen on building a stadium with state tax dollars. 

“I don’t even like the state building stadiums with general fund tax dollars,” he told reporters, while kind of dampening optimism of a stadium being built in that manner. “I’m not really excited about Jackson State building a football stadium.”