JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With the Florida-Georgia game kicking off this weekend, city officials, including representatives from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, Jacksonville Transportation Authority and more are advising fans to be safe and have fun this weekend downtown.
People began arriving in Jacksonville, preparing for Florida-Georgia week, as early as last Wednesday, 10 days before Saturday's kickoff.
What brings them back?
"Friendship, camaraderie at the game, Georgia-Florida the largest cocktail party," Georgia fan Henry Hinojosa said.
While the rivalry on the field is intense, partiers representing both schools can set that rivalry aside and enjoy the week.
"You just went and talked to the Georgia guy right there. He and I are friendly," Florida fan Michael McVeith said. "We both want to win the game, but we’re here to have a good time."
Fans on both sides said that JSO does a great job each year of keeping people safe. Some suggestions from the Sheriff’s Office to people heading Downtown Saturday include arriving at least five hours before the 3:30 p.m. kickoff.
New traffic patterns might confuse even those who make the annual trek to the game.
One of those changes involves the Overland Bridge Project along I-95. Heading northbound, drivers have to exit a mile and a half earlier, using the designated right lanes. But don't worry. If you miss that exit, you can still get off at Park Street on the other side of the St. Johns River, make a right and navigate downtown that way.
Stadium parking lots open at 9 a.m. and the stadium gates open at 1:30 p.m. Fans are asked to have their parking pass ready in the dash for police to see, follow sign boards, be aware of their surroundings and walk in groups.
"There’s a big police presence here," McVeith said. "We’ve been doing this a long time they’re great about being there if something gets out of hand."
The fewer cars downtown, the better, so fans are asked to carpool or used one of JTA’s many options. You can find those at JTAFLA.com or on their free My JTA app. The Skyway is free and offers extended hours on Friday until 1 a.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. until midnight. Kings Ave. and Convention center stops are shut down, but other six are open.
For fans heading into the stadium to watch the game, there are six locations downtown to find access to taxis, cellphone chargers, first aid, free water and more.
And don't forget to bring cash. You'll need it for parking or paying for other modes of transportation.
Other events this weekend
- Santana concert, Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Daily’s Place
- Kings of Leon concert, Wednesday night at 7 p.m. at Daily’s Place
- MercyMe concert, Thursday night at 7 p.m. at Daily’s Place
- Jacksonville Icemen vs Atlanta Gladiators Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena
- Brand New concert, Friday at 7 p.m. at Daily’s Place
For more traffic patterns, game day tips, etc., head to FLGAJAX.COM