A New Home?
By: Kipp Branch
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
It was announced this week that the Georgia/Florida football game will remain in Jacksonville through the 2025 football season.
The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party has been held in Jacksonville since 1933. The 1994 and 1995 contests were held in Gainesville and Athens due to Jacksonville being granted the Jaguars by the NFL in expansion. The old Gator Bowl was turned into what we now know as TIAA Bank Field.
Both universities released statements below regarding the agreement:
“We are pleased with the decision to exercise the option that will keep the game in Jacksonville for 2024 and 2025,” said UGA J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Josh Brooks, via a release from Georgia.
“We look forward to discussions that I’m sure will continue over the next couple years exploring all the options for 2026 and beyond. We continue to be appreciative of the working relationship we have with the University of Florida and the City of Jacksonville.”
“The City of Jacksonville has been a historic host for one of the greatest rivalry games in all of college football,” Florida Athletics Director Scott Stricklin said. “We are excited to have the game in Jacksonville for another two seasons.”
Where the game will be played beyond 2025 is still unknown. The City of Jacksonville recently announced that TIAA Bank Field will undergo major renovations in 2026 and 2027, which means the Jaguars will play their home games in another venue for those two seasons.
Do not panic Jaguars fans. You are not relocating to London.
Based on that the future beyond 2025 is up in the air. Florida is the designated home team in odd numbered years and will be the home team this season.
With this announcement we know officially that Georgia and Florida will be permanent opponents when the SEC expands in 2024 with the addition of Oklahoma and Texas.
It has pretty much been documented that that would be the case, but the new agreement cements that.
I’m a proponent of always keeping the UGA/UF game in Jacksonville. It is part of SEC tradition. There is a growing movement within the UGA fan base to move the game to a ‘home and home’.
I personally think it is driven by Atlanta metro area Dawg fans that don’t feel as strongly about the game staying in Jacksonville.
You see UGA fans in the Atlanta area can travel to Athens in usually under an hour on gameday, then go back home and sleep in their own beds at night after the contest.
You hear many in the Atlanta area say if not home and home then rotate between Jacksonville and Atlanta and let some of the revenue the game generates benefit the state of Georgia.
Well, the current location in Jacksonville benefits the Golden Isles of Georgia to the tune of $6-$8 million dollars annually for a 3-day weekend in late October. Atlanta already has the SEC Championship game.
South Georgia Dawg fans basically make a weekend of it in Athens for every home UGA game due to travel distance.
And many fans south of Macon are season ticket holders. Think about that for a second.
Economically the game in Jacksonville is a financial windfall for both schools. Playing the series home-and-home would net Florida and Georgia just $1.5 million annually according to The Gainesville Sun, a $3 million shortfall compared to playing in Jacksonville.
Each school would make about $3 million playing games at their respective stadiums, but that revenue would have to extend over a two-year period. Each school receives about $2.9 million dollars each annually by playing in Jacksonville.
Keep the game in Jacksonville. Kirby Smart is the king of college football currently. Recruiting rules can change if the king pushes that narrative so UGA can host recruits in Jacksonville.
There is no experience like the Cocktail Party in Jacksonville on the last weekend in October.
Due to stadium renovations, you could see the Gators in Athens in 2026.