Florida, Florida State baseball game in Jacksonville off until 2022

Before the 2020 season was wiped out by COVID-19, Florida and Florida State had played a neutral site game in Jacksonville every year since 2007.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Sunshine Showdown baseball game in Jacksonville between Florida and Florida State is off.

Just two days after it was announced, the JaxSports Council, along with the two programs, canceled the 2021 game. It was scheduled for March 30 at 121 Financial Ballpark. Before the 2020 season was wiped out by COVID-19, the teams had played a neutral site game in Jacksonville every year since 2007.

In a release, the Jax Sports Council said the game was canceled “as a result of the COVID-19 protocols and the financial obligations of the game agreement.”

Incoming Gator Bowl Sports president Greg McGarity said that with reduced attendance for coronavirus safety, it made holding the game this year a financial challenge for all parties involved.

“In our situation, it just came to where the attendance would be limited. certain restrictions regarding social distancing, which really reduced the crowd to probably 25% maximum,” McGarity said. “And with a financial model in place, it was really impossible to make things work for the benefit of everyone concern. So unfortunately, we had to cancel this year’s game. But we’re really looking forward to the game in 2022.

“We’re in an environment now where no one needs to be operating in the red. And that’s what would have happened if certain things had to come to play. But we appreciate the cooperation with Florida and Florida State. And they understand that it is just a situation that we’re all forced to deal with. And nobody likes it. But it’s the world we live in right now.”

Florida released its schedule on Tuesday and had the game in Jacksonville listed on its 2021 slate.

Instead, the Gators and Florida State will play two games against one another this season. The Seminoles host in Tallahassee on March, and the Gators hosting on April 13.

For McGarity, this would have been his first event after taking over Gator Bowl Sports. Now, he’ll have to wait until the Gator Bowl football game to get his first experience as the man in charge. He is replacing Rick Catlett in March. Catlett is retiring after 29 years of leading Gator Bowl Sports and serving in various capacities with the JaxSports Council and Gator Bowl Charities.

“The game was at the end of March and I take over on March 1. And so it would have been the first one. So, I was really looking forward to that rivalry,” he said.

“I know what it’s like being at University of Florida for 18 years. So I know how important that game is and it’s just unfortunate, but there’s so many things that are unfortunate this year that we deal with, and we just have learned to accept it and move forward.”

About the Authors:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.

Cole joined News4Jax full-time in January 2017, but he has been a part of the team since he began filling in as a sports anchor in 2005.