By Garry Smits, GateHouse Florida
JACKSONVILLE — Florida and Georgia will continue playing their annual football game at TIAA Bank Field through 2023, with an option through 2025, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry announced the agreement on his Twitter feed Friday.
And it means a big boost to the financial fortunes of the two teams.
Beginning in 2020, each team will get $1 million, according to the memo of understanding. It remains $1 million in 2021 and increases to $1.25 million in 2022 and 2023.
UF and UGA had been getting $250,000 each under the terms of the current contract, which was signed March 16, 2016 and ran through 2021.
The two teams split the gate, which comes to around $3.3 million each per year. That means by 2022, each team will receive more than $4.5 million. This year, each team gets about $3.55 million.
The two-year option must be picked up by May 15, 2022.
Florida will continued to get a travel allowance of $60,000 and Georgia gets $350,000, which covers air fare for the official party.
The city has estimated the economic impact of the Florida-Georgia game at $35 million per year.
The two teams play Nov. 2 (3:30 p.m., CBS).
“I’m excited about what this agreement means for our city,” Curry said. “This is more than a game. It’s a tradition.”
He said the contract will be completed “in the coming weeks,” and sent to the city council for approval.
But their two superiors issued statements in strong support of keeping the game in Jacksonville.
“We are excited to continue one of the great traditions in all of college football in having the Florida-Georgia game in Jacksonville,” said Florida athletics director Scott Stricklin. “The Florida-Georgia game is more than a football game, it is a week-long celebration of two storied programs meeting on a neutral field that has created generational memories for both fan bases. We are appreciative of the partnership we have with the city of Jacksonville and Mayor Lenny Curry to extend our agreement.”
Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity echoed those sentiments in his statement.
The teams have been playing in Jacksonville annually since 1933. The only interruption in the neutral-site series was in 1994 and 1995 when the game was played at the two campuses because of renovation to the stadium in preparation for the Jaguars beginning play.
It is one of three major neutral-site games played on an annual basis, in addition to Texas-Oklahoma in Dallas and Army-Navy, which rotates sites.