JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Florida-Georgia game will remain in Jacksonville after the schools agreed to terms with the City of Jacksonville.
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and City Council president Greg Anderson made the announcement Wednesday.
The new agreement, which has been signed by university officials, extends the contract for an additional five years; it was due to expire after the 2016 season.
“We could not be more excited about our continued partnership with two of the nation’s finest universities." Curry said at the announcement.
In a story we first told you about a few weeks ago, city officials originally lobbied for a ten-year contract extension, but University of Georgia officials sought a shorter term. The city then sought a seven-year extension, but ultimately settled for a five-year term.
“We are excited to continue the tradition of playing the Florida-Georgia game in Jacksonville,” said University of Florida Director of Athletics Jeremy Foley.
“As I’ve said a number of times over the years, the game belongs in Jacksonville. Thanks to the hard work and cooperation from the City of Jacksonville, the Jacksonville Jaguars and our counterparts at Georgia, it will continue to be in Jacksonville.”
Curry says the good news in the new deal is that the city and the two universities will open negotiations on an extension two years into the new agreement.
Curry signed the deal right after the announcement.
Each school will receive a $250,000 annual payment from the city as part of the new deal, in addition to ticket revenue the schools have been receiving. The City Council must approve the payment.
“The home of the Georgia-Florida game since 1933 has been Jacksonville and we are delighted to extend that tradition for five more years,” said University of Georgia Director of Athletics Greg McGarity. “We are extremely appreciative of the efforts of the City of Jacksonville, the Jacksonville Jaguars and the University of Florida for their cooperation in extending this agreement.
City Council president Greg Anderson, a Georgia graduate, says, "This is excellent news for both universities who will benefit from this enhanced contract.."
Some of the terms of the deal are:
- Each team will receive a $250,000 annual payment per game starting in 2017;
- City of Jacksonville will pay $125,000 per team for playing in the game during the 2016 season;
- If a sponsor is found for the game, the schools would get 90% of the sponsorship revenue. The city would receive 10%.
- The city will buy 1,000 tickets to the game.
- Jacksonville is responsible for creating a “customized seating solution if any club seats are removed for stadium club seat renovations” -- with the schools' approval; The Jaguars are a partner in this process. The Jaguars will selll luxury suites for the game.
- The schools receive use of EverBank Field rent free.
The previous contract, signed for seven years in 2009, paid the schools $50,000 to help offset the cost. The new agreement would run through the 2021 season. This would be the first contract to offer guaranteed payments.
"When we are talking about neutral site games, it’s a low amount for a neutral site game in general but it is more than either school has received for coming to Jacksonville before,” says sports business analyst Kristi Dosh. “It isn’t just Jacksonville that benefits from this game. The spiderweb of this game reaches from St. Augustine up to St. Simons Island. There is also a lot of emotional attachment to having the game in Jacksonville.”
Dosh says the deal the city is getting is a win for the city even with the low payouts per team. She says she isn’t surprised by the length of the five-year extension.
“It doesn’t surprise me either because college athletics is changing so incredibly quickly," Dosh says. "If you look at five years ago, neutral site games have exploded since then. I'm not suggesting the schools would leave Jacksonville but you want to keep your options open."
The Florida-Georgia game brings in more than $35 million for the City of Jacksonville and more than 138,000 out of town visitors every year. The University of Florida makes $3.4 million annually from the game.
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