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bobliocatt

Skyline loses Jags mural!

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Blackout? No, it's a whiteout

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By CHARLIE PATTON

The Times-Union

With the Jacksonville Jaguars off to their best start since 1998, the city's most visible symbol of that early success began disappearing Tuesday.

First Team, the 96-foot-by-215-foot mural on the back of the downtown Ed Ball Building, is being covered with white paint, eradicating the images of five Jaguars players and former coach Tom Coughlin.

Looming over a six-story parking garage and over the site of the future Duval County courthouse, the mural began 50 feet in the air and was visible from Interstate 95, Broad Street and Forsyth Street.

Jennifer Perkins, the Jaguars director of creative services, said the mural was in deteriorating condition and that something needed to be done to prevent it from becoming an eyesore.

"The existing mural is in serious need of repair," she said. "It's got peeling paint all over it."

The original mural was commissioned by First Union bank, which owned the Ed Ball Building in 1998 when the mural was created. First Union no longer exists, having been absorbed in a merger by Wachovia.

Neither Wachovia, which plans to sell the building, nor the Jaguars were interested in paying the expense of a new mural, Perkins said.

"It's just something that's cost-prohibitive for us," she said.

So instead, the Jaguars and Wachovia are sharing the expense of covering the 6-year-old mural with white paint.

Anne Banas, the artist who designed the mural, said she was not aware the process of covering it had begun although she had been told about a month ago that it was being planned.

She said she told the Jaguars she thought it was a mistake to cover the mural.

"I told them, 'I'm really dumbfounded you're going to do it right before the Super Bowl,'" Banas said. "I said, 'I don't think you've got any clue what an icon it has become.'"

Several people interviewed Tuesday afternoon as they left downtown offices seemed to support that sentiment, expressing both surprise and disappointment.

"I think their timing is off," said Mike Koleniak, who works in the federal courthouse next to the Ed Ball Building. "We're supposed to be wrapped up in all this Super Bowl hoopla ... It's part of our skyline."

"I think it's become a landmark," said Juan K. Gonzalez, owner of Hemming Plaza Jewelers. "They need to scrape up some money to redo it. I'll donate the first $10."

"It seems to be somewhat of a downtown signature," said Mike Kember. "I think you've got enough interest that people would pitch in to help save it. I'm no artist but I'd pick up a paintbrush."

Banas, working with a team of 11 artists, created the mural over about six weeks from late May to early July 1998. Banas, who teaches at Florida Community College at Jacksonville's Kent Campus, also helped paint The Cat House mural on a building at Bay and Ocean streets.

Of the six figures on the First Team mural, only wide receiver Jimmy Smith is still a Jaguar. Ironically, Smith, who was on the far right side of the mural, was one of the first two figures to be covered. Kicker Mike Hollis, at the far left, also has been painted over. Hollis left the Jaguars after the 2001 season, signing with the Buffalo Bills. He is currently not on an NFL roster.

The others on the mural, still visible Tuesday afternoon, are wide receiver Keenan McCardell, who went to Tampa Bay after the 2001 season and is a holdout there; defensive end Renaldo Wynn, who went to the Washington Redskins after the 2001 season and remains on their roster; Joel Smeenge, who was released by the Jaguars after the 2000 season and retired a year later; and Coughlin, fired by the Jaguars after the 2002 season and ishead coach of the New York Giants.

charlie.pattonjacksonville.com, (904) 359-4413

This story can be found on Jacksonville.com at http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stor..._16767787.shtml.

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Was it really that bad? Even though everyone on the wall, except Jimmy Smith, has since moved on somewhere else, the mural still had become a major and distinctive feature in the skyline and even with chipped paint and all, it was still more eye catching and pleasing than the giant layer of white paint replacing it.

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I couldn't tell that the paint was peeling. Unless you get really close to it, you'd never notice. If they were going to remove it, why not wait until after February? Let's think about things from now on.....

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To say their timing is off is an understatement.

The Jags off to a great start, the superbowl coming up; let's just cover it up.

Also, isn't a big white rectangle just as much of a eyesore as peeling paint?

Hopefully the city will replace it with something by the time the superbowl comes around... It'd be a good place for a "welcome to Jacksonville" sign. I'm suprised Budweiser isn't sponsoring something Jags related to put there, but maybe that's not allowed.

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I have tried with the previous owners to help find and fund a new mural featuring local art. I thought at the time the jaguars might use the budget they had to cover it to help kick-start the funding of the new image.

The new owners should consider the aesthetic improvement and relative ease of sponsorship (hundreds of thousands pass this each day) and put something up soon.

When I have the artists permission I'll post what his firm rendered as a new image for the building.

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  I'm suprised Budweiser isn't sponsoring something Jags related to put there, but maybe that's not allowed.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

As I understand it, that would not be allowed. Jacksonville placed a moritorium on off-site advertising (ie billboards) in 1987. A Budweiser sign would classify as off-site advertising.

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I have tried with the previous owners to help find and fund a new mural featuring local art. I thought at the time the jaguars might use the budget they had to cover it to help kick-start the funding of the new image.

The new owners should consider the aesthetic improvement and relative ease of sponsorship (hundreds of thousands pass this each day) and put something up soon.

When I have the artists permission I'll post what his firm rendered as a new image for the building.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Now might be a good time to raise the issue again. Best of luck if you decide to broach the subject again. Like someone quoted in the article said, I'd chip in a few bucks for a new mural. I'm eager to see the rendering of the new image.

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I am kind of upset as well. I feel that the mural has really become part of our city and a unique image that no other city has. I am disappointed that a decision like this has come so close to the Super Bowl which is a chance for us to get "on the map".

PS- The picture of Keenan McCardell could be replaced by George Wrister the tight end. Same number, same build. Hey!

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