Major stadium renovations, if approved, will keep the Jacksonville Jaguars to play home games at TIAA Bank Field, and also to impact the site of the annual Georgia-Florida college football game
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Jacksonville Major Lenny Curry said in a radio interview Wednesday that the “best case scenario” is that the renovations would take more than two years and move the games from 2025-26.
University of Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin told The Athletic he believes the period is 2026-27 for the game called the world’s greatest outdoor cocktail party.
Regardless, the mayor’s comments emphasize the impact on football, the NFL and academia, in Jacksonville and potential venues in Florida and Georgia.
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“The goal would be to play somewhere in Jacksonville,” Curry said of the Jaguars‘ alternatives on 1010XL/92.5 FM, according to an article in the Florida Times-Union. “These discussions are happening, but two years is the target. … I know they are looking at some local venues that could accommodate them for at least two years.
With TIAA Bank Field unavailable, Jacksonville’s second-largest facility is at the University of North Florida, which does not field a football team. Hodges Stadium, which is used for football and athletics, is listed at 9,400 with an estimated capacity of 12,000.
THE jaguarswho regularly play home games in London and have two scheduled for 2023, may have other options outside of Jacksonville, such as large stadiums in Orlando, Gainesville and Tallahassee, Fla.
University programs in Georgia and Florida considered alternatives to Jacksonville as the contract went through terms, including moving games to campus.
The current contract expires after the upcoming season, with schools having the option to extend it through 2025. Jacksonville has hosted the game every year since 1933, except for 1994 (at Gainesville) and 1995 (Athens, Georgia) when the Gator Bowl was under renovation.
“We look forward to having conversations with the appropriate City of Jacksonville officials who will provide further information on the scope of construction, the project schedule and its impact on the future of our game against Florida,” said the University of Georgia Athletic. director Josh Brooks said in a statement.
Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart has been a proponent of the on-campus home-and-home option because of the advantages he sees in recruiting as well as an actual home game. But the neutral Jacksonville site has been lucrative for each team, with Georgia securing a guaranteed $1.25 million on top of ticket revenue for the 2023 game, a rate that rises to $1.5 million for next two years, according to the Athens Banner- Herald.
Schools also receive incentives such as funds for travel expenses and a percentage of in-stadium alcohol sales.
Rivalry play could also move to relatively neutral venues in Atlanta, Orlando and Tampa as Jacksonville Stadium is renovated.
THE jaguars lease the stadium owned by the city until the 2029 season
“When it’s done, you’ll think you’re in a whole new ballpark,” Curry, whose term ends in June, said during the radio interview without providing a cost forecast. “We’re basically renovating because the bones are good. It’s going to be a completely different facility. It’s going to be state-of-the-art. It’s going to be something that other cities will look at and say, ‘Wow, look at what Jacksonville just did. ‘ “