JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An agreement to keep the annual Georgia-Florida football game in Jacksonville through the 2021 game has not yet been finalized, just days before the final game on the previous contract.
The University of Florida and University of Georgia have agreed to extend their contract to play the rivalry game at EverBank Field for another five years. The current seven-year contract was set to expire after the 2016 game.
The mayor and other Jacksonville city officials announced the extension in March at City Hall.
The new agreement was approved by City Council but has not been finalized because it is still being reviewed by the attorneys for each school, a city of Jacksonville representative said. No timetable was given for the contract to be finalized.
Mayor Lenny Curry said in March that last year's game had a $35 million economic impact for Jacksonville.
"We got an additional $2 million in economic impact this year over the previous year, and I would say that if you look at other rivalry games, we have a good deal here," Curry said. "This was a win for the city, this was a win for the taxpayers, and this was a win for both schools."
The game features an annual sellout crowd of more than 83,000, and 5 million fans watched the game broadcast in 2015.
“Jacksonville is in fact a football town," Curry said.
He said that two years into the current contract, the teams and the school will renegotiate the deal, which will "mitigate any uncertainty in the years to come.”
Curry said that one of the biggest selling points in the new contract was that each university will now receive $250,000 per year from the city's general fund. He said this year, that number is half of that.
The annual rivalry game, which is known across the country for its raucous tailgate experience, has been played in Jacksonville since 1933.
“We could not be more excited about our continued partnership with two of the nation’s finest universities," Curry said in a news release. “Our new agreement further strengthens the Georgia-Florida tradition we have enjoyed here in Jacksonville for 83 years. The legendary rivalry continues and the best is yet to come.”
There was a strong push from fans last year leading up to the game to keep the game in Jacksonville, including "Keep the game in Jax" signs all over RV City.
Curry said that when he was elected last year, there were no negotiations going on between the city and the two schools. He said that the next morning, he made a call to the schools to get the ball rolling.
"They know that this is part of the fabric and the culture of people that live in Jacksonville and the fans for both universities that visit here and all the activities that go on in and around it," Curry said.
Curry said the city is working with the Jaguars to figure out how the new EverBank Field club section configurations, which are currently under construction, will affect the stadium's capacity for the game. The city is also working on figuring out the cost to install and remove more temporary seating at the stadium for the game.
"We are working in conjunction and partnership with the Jaguars to make sure that it will be a win for everyone," Curry said. "There's no issues or concerns there."