Georgia, Florida extend agreement with Jacksonville

The captains for the Florida Gators and the Georgia Bulldogs stand for the coin toss before their NCAA football game at TIAA Bank Field, Saturday, October 29, 2022, in Jacksonville, Florida. Georgia won 42-20. (Jason Getz /

Credit: Jason Getz /

Credit: Jason Getz /

The captains for the Florida Gators and the Georgia Bulldogs stand for the coin toss before their NCAA football game at TIAA Bank Field, Saturday, October 29, 2022, in Jacksonville, Florida. Georgia won 42-20. (Jason Getz /

ATHENS — The Georgia-Florida game will remain in Jacksonville at least for the next three years.

The schools announced Wednesday afternoon that they exercised the option to extend their current contract with the city to play the game at TIAA Bank Field through the 2024 and 2025 seasons. The previous deal was set to expire after this year’s game, set to be played in Jacksonville on Oct. 28. The schools had until June 30 to enact the extension, but chose to notify the city Wednesday.

The question now is whether the game will remain there beyond 2025. The Jacksonville Jaguars, who own TIAA Bank Field, are proposing a hundreds-of-millions-of-dollars renovation project that could render the stadium unusable for a two-year period starting in 2026. If that gets approved by the city and its taxpayers, Georgia and Florida may have to go to a temporary, two-year home-and-home setup or an alternate neutral-site arrangement.

“We look forward to discussions that I’m sure will continue over the next couple years exploring all the options for 2026 and beyond,” Georgia Athletic Director Josh Brooks said in a joint news release circulated by the schools Wednesday afternoon. “We continue to be appreciative of the working relationship we have with the University of Florida and the City of Jacksonville.”

Said Florida Athletic Director Scott Stricklin: “The City of Jacksonville has been an historic host for one of the great rivalry games in all of college football. We are excited to have the game in Jacksonville for another two seasons.”

He current contract with Jacksonville guarantees that both Georgia and Florida will receive $1.5 million in 2024 and ‘25 while paying for all travel and lodging expenses. That includes air travel for the Bulldogs and bus travel for the Gators, whose campus is 80 miles away. The teams also split ticket revenue, receive a $400,000 stipend for a reduced capacity seating arrangement and receive a percentage of alcohol sales. All told, each school will bank about $5 million annually, as opposed to clearing less than that every other year in a home-and-home arrangement.

The Georgia-Florida game has been played annually in Jacksonville since 1933, usually in late October. The exception was in the 1994 and 1995 seasons during the construction of the stadium currently known as TIAA Bank Field.

Jacksonville will swear in a new mayor July 1. Democrat Donna Deegan defeated Republican Daniel Davis in a runoff last week. Deegan is an FSU graduate but also is a fifth-generation Jacksonville resident who would like to accommodate the NFL franchise to whatever degree is reasonable.

As for the Jaguars, team president Mark Lamping told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last week that they also want to do everything possible to keep the Georgia-Florida game in their stadium. Their renovation plan, he said, has two schools’ fans in mind.

“From the first day that (owner) Shad Khan purchased the Jaguars, we made it very clear to the universities of Georgia and Florida and the Gator Bowl that our view of those games was 180 degrees different than the previous ownership of the Jaguars,” Lamping said. “The previous owners felt the Gator Bowl and the annual Georgia-Florida game was an inconvenience that the NFL team would just as soon not have to deal with. We said from the beginning we feel just the opposite. We know how important this game is. The single most important event that happens in Jacksonville each year is not a Jaguars game, it’s the Georgia-Florida game.”

The Jaguars also are considering plans that would halt construction during the football seasons and keep both their games and Georgia-Florida on-site. But that would extend the completion date by two years and cost $100 million or more to complete.

Khan already is building a Four Seasons Hotel, office and multi-use development in an area known as the Shipyards next to the stadium.