City and school officials announced at a press conference this morning in Jacksonville that the annual Georgia/Florida football game will remain in Duval County through at least 2021. The announcement does not necessarily come as a surprise. No one reasonably expected the game to be played anywhere else, and school officials have insisted for months that a deal would get done. It is worth noting however that negotiations appear to have been a bit more protracted and perhaps a little more hard-nosed this time around than in previous years. Past extensions have been completed more than a year prior to the last game of the existing contract. The current contract will expire after the upcoming World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party on October 29, 2016.
Part of the hold up this time around was the Jacksonville Jaguars' renovation of EverBank Field, where they play home NFL games. The Jaguars have begun work on the stadium which will reduce some seating in the east and west end zones, seats which have previously been designated for some of the Bulldogs' and Gators' most generous donors. Because the schools have remained adamant that they want the capacity of the stadium to stay as it is for their game, this will require temporary seating in those areas. Obviously, not just any temporary seating will do when people are paying the amount of money that top donors are paying for those particular seats to this big a game.
While full details of the agreement obviously will come out in due time, there are a couple of interesting new provisions in this agreement. First, each school will be paid $250,000 on top of a piece of the ticket sales, to which they have been entitled previously. Jacksonville mayor Lenny Curry noted at the press conference that this makes sense in light of the heightened economic impact which the game has. Also, the contract includes a renegotiation window which begins in two years. This may mean that negotiations in the future, no matter who is in charge, do not stretch out quite as far. I suppose it could also mean that if a deal is not going to be done the parties may know about it more quickly in the feature, but again, I have a hard time imagining this game being played anywhere else in the foreseeable future. Until later....