Arena Ads Violate City, State Laws

Signs plastered on  advertising a law firm violate both city code and state statute, at least in the opinion of the Jacksonville, Fla., city attorney.
The faces of attorneys at Hunt, Green & James in Jacksonville, Fla., adorn the front of Veterans Memorial Arena, in apparent violation of city and state statutes. 

It’s lawyer vs. lawyer as the firm being advertised claims the city breached confidentiality and other contract issues with Hunt, Green & James.

The law firm claims that not only should the signs be allowed to remain up – at no cost – until April 2016, but the city should reimburse its entire sponsorship of the arena. Jacksonville general counsel Jason Gabriel sent a legal memo to the city council saying the city’s charter does not permit the signs. At least two of the signs “violate a state law that requires commercial signs within 660 feet of the nearest edge of a federal-aid primary highway (the Hart Expressway) to be ‘directly related’ to the Arena’s activities, products or services,” according to Jacksonville’s WJXT-TV.

Another sign is allegedly in violation of state law because it is visible from Hart Bridge and has no permit from Florida’s Department of Transportation.

FDOT reportedly notified the city April 13 it had 30 days to either get the permit for the sign, remove it or provide documentation of an exemption. Hunt, Green & James said it would end its sponsorship agreement with the arena effective April 30 but wants its sponsorship money repaid and its signs to remain in place for another year without a fee for its trouble.

Gabriel reportedly said that the sponsorship agreement did not include the massive signage on several surfaces of the building’s exterior, and the city would have to amend its code in order to allow it. But, even in that case, city code modifications have no bearing on state law, leaving at least two of the signs in violation.

As a result of the dispute, Jackson’s city council on May 12 voted to require all future exterior signage on the Veterans Memorial Arena be approved by a review board, including those promoting events such as the NCAA basketball tournament. Councilman Bill Bishop, who authored the plan, told the Florida Times-Union that event organizers would need to plan ahead of time to comply.