Florida-Georgia rivalry to stay in Jacksonville through 2025 despite long-term questions

Jacksonville, Florida, will remain the host city for the annual Florida-Georgia football game for two more years, the schools announced Wednesday. The extension is to previous agreement reached in 2019 that he kept the series in Jacksonville until 2023.

TIAA Bank Field, the game’s host stadium and home to the Jacksonville Jaguars, is planning its first major renovation since opening in 1995, putting the game’s immediate future in doubt. However, Jaguars president Mark Lamping set the record straight earlier this month in The Florida Times-Union when he said any game-altering renovations wouldn’t start until 2026.

Most of the meetings between the two rivals have been held in Jacksonville since the series of rivalries began more than a century ago. The former Gator Bowl Stadium was the host site before TIAA Bank Field was built on the same property.

Although fans are set to see the Gators and Bulldogs battle in Jacksonville for at least three more seasons before any changes to the site happen, there are some questions about the long-term future of the game. At last year’s SEC Media Days, Georgia coach Kirby Smart advocated for the rivalry game to move on campus citing recruiting benefits.

“I’m competing against guys from all over the SEC who are hosting kids in their biggest game,” Smart told the SEC Network during the event in Nashville, Tennessee. “When Auburn plays Alabama, guess where the recruits are. They’re in Auburn. When they play LSU and Alabama, guess where the biggest recruits want to go. It’s an opportunity for us to bring these kids flying in from all over the country. What game do you want to watch? You’d like to see Georgia play Florida, but you can’t.”

Florida coach Billy Napier has taken a different stance. expressing his desire to keep the game in Jacksonville due to the financial implications. Factoring in gate fees, Georgia and Florida each grossed more than $4.5 million from the 2022 game. That number would drop to around $1.5 million if the game had a traditional home-and-home format, according to the Gainesville Sun. .

“The underlying issue here is the economy, right?” Napier said. “It’s very beneficial for both teams to play the game there. So, you know, we’ve got some things to figure out there, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

Georgia is seeking its third straight win over Florida and sixth in the last seven seasons. The winner has won the SEC East every year since 2015.