An old tradition shared by two of the bitterest of rivals will remain intact for another five years.
A source has told In All Kinds Of Weather that the Florida-Georgia game will be played in Jacksonville through the 2021 season, and that the announcement from city officials will come “soon”. Unrelated sources told firstcoastnews.com the same thing. The rivalry has been played in the River City every year since 1933 with the exception of 1994 and 1995, but the current contract was set to expire after the 2016 game.
The holdup in the negotiations was apparently the same as it’s always been: Georgia simply doesn’t like playing Florida in the Gators’ backyard every year. They’d like to play on each others’ home field, or in their home turf of Atlanta. So the Dawgs’ camp really didn’t want to agree to play the game in Jacksonville for ten more years as FirstCoastNews reported that the city of Jacksonville wanted them to. But without a stadium of equal maximum capacity in Atlanta as of now, UGA eventually agreed to a five year contract.
Long term, I’m still not sure this game remains in Jacksonville. Georgia’s balking at the idea of a ten year contract, and successful attempt to shrink it in half is the first clue. EverBank Field is reducing its total capacity, adding luxury suites instead; EverBank’s 84,000 capacity over the Georgia Dome’s 74,000 was one of the big advantages the city of Jacksonville had over Atlanta, but now that advantage is being diminished. And with a brand, spanking new Mercedez-Benz Stadium set to open in Atlanta in 2017, I’m fearing the novelty of it might make it even harder for Florida to persuade Georgia to keep the game there.
But in any case, we’ve got six more Florida-Georgia games in Jacksonville. Let’s cherish them, because while I wouldn’t necessarily bet on it, there is a possibility that they will be the last.