The “world’s largest outdoor cocktail party” will remain in Jacksonville: The Georgia-Florida rivalry game will remain in Jacksonville until 2023, according to the University of Georgia Athletic Department.
— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 27, 2018
The game will continue to be held at TIAA Bank Field in downtown Jacksonville until then, with an option to extend the contract until 2025.
Weighing the Pros and Cons
Some argue that the game should be moved from neutral territory to a typical home game. Coach Kirby Smart acknowledged that it can be difficult for recruiting, saying, “You see more and more kids committing on these official visit weekends when they go to a home game and they’re really important weekends. We just have one less shot at those, that’s the toughest thing.”
Smart also explained that the guaranteed away game against Florida makes it more difficult when scheduling future non-conference games, giving the team even fewer opportunities to play at home in some instances.
But Smart said he supports the administration’s decision to extend the contract and believes the longstanding tradition of holding the game in Jacksonville and financial incentives from the city played into the decision.
UGA Athletic Director Greg McGarity confirmed this in a statement, saying, “the extension ensures the historical preservation of the game in Jacksonville which has been part of the national college football landscape since 1933. The City of Jacksonville has once again demonstrated its commitment to this game through significant financial considerations to each school.”
Media reports said the new contract gives the schools millions of dollars in guarantees to keep the game in Jacksonville.
The partnership brought in $30 million to Jacksonville in 2018 and routinely hosts a sellout crowd of 83,000 in the stadium.
My team and I have reached an agreement. The Florida-Georgia game has been extended through 2023 with an option to extend to 2025. See details here. @UF @GatorsFB @FloridaGators @FLvsGA @UGAAthletic pic.twitter.com/hacVXgbm5T
— Lenny Curry (@lennycurry) October 25, 2019
Students flocking to St. Simon’s and other nearby islands also bring in money for coastal Georgia. Rep. Buddy Carter applauded the decision, saying it brings in tourists and “as much as $6 million in economic impacts to our area.”
The Georgia-Florida rivalry is almost a century old, starting with their first match up in Jacksonville in 1933.
Since then, the every game has been played there, with the exception of the 1994 and 1995 seasons while the stadium was being remodeled.
The Georgia-Florida game is one of few college football games played at a neutral site each year, among them are also rivalry games like Army vs. Navy and Texas vs. Oklahoma.
According to UGA Athletics, the game can be a good indicator of which team will advance to the SEC Championship. In 27 SEC Championship games, Georgia or Florida have represented the SEC East 19 times and the winner of the Georgia-Florida matchup has advanced to the championship game 16 times.
Bailey Walker is a senior majoring in journalism and political science with a certificate in applied politics.
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