In a radio interview earlier this week, outgoing Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry told 1010XL that the “best case scenario” for the renovation of TIAA Bank Field in downtown Jacksonville would be a two-year renovation. in which the Jaguars “will have to play somewhere else.” .” But this doesn’t just affect the Jags, as the Florida-Georgia football rivalry game has been played in Jacksonville nearly every year since 1933.
“The goal would be [for the Jags] to play somewhere in Jacksonville,” Curry told 1010XL about the team’s plans as the stadium undergoes renovations. “Those discussions are happening, but the goal is two years.”
The rivalry game between Bulldogs and Gators is lucrative for both schools. One industry source estimated that they make more than $5 million each year for the game between payments, management fees, ticket sales and other income, which is the main reason they are likely to stay in Jacksonville for the long haul. despite Kirby Smart’s wish to change the arrangement due to the loss of recruiting weekend (NCAA rules prohibit recruits from attending a game at a neutral site). Alternating home and home play would be a hard sell for both administrations due to the loss of revenue for both sides over a two-year period, even if the SEC moves to a nine-game schedule.
But there could be a temporary shift, as happened in 1994 and 1995, when the original Gator Bowl stadium was almost completely rebuilt as the Jaguars established themselves as a franchise. The two teams played on each other’s campus for the first time since the ’31 and ’32 seasons. If and when the Jags or the rivalry game will actually be displaced, however, will be its own battle. Curry said renovations could begin during the 2025 and 2026 seasons. But Jaguars team president Mark Lamping said The Florida Times Union than any renewal it would not start until the 26th as soon. Florida and Georgia are in the last full year of their deal with the city of Jacksonville to play there, with an option for two more in ’24 and ’25. This is for the future mayor to decide with a runoff election next week, as Curry is currently a lame duck. One of the two candidates, Daniel Davis, has made his position clear:
These are going to be difficult negotiations, but the @jaguares playing out of town for two years is not a start for me.
—Daniel Davis (@DanielDavisFL) May 11, 2023
The team and the city could opt for a compromise to do the renovations like South Florida did in three different offseasons that didn’t keep Miami or the Dolphins from playing at Hard Rock Stadium.
If the Jaguars do move temporarily, that move may also involve the Gators, with Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville roughly a 90-minute drive from TIAA Bank Field. It is the closest stadium that has actual NFL capacity and premium seats.
“The Jaguars have shared with us their exciting vision for their stadium renovations and have also expressed interest in future conversations about where they would play during the renovation. Game hosting at The Swamp would be worth exploring. There are a lot of Jags fans in Gainesville given the proximity to Jacksonville,” Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin said in response to media inquiries.
While upgrading to The Swamp have been reported and rumored for yearstells a source with knowledge of the situation YEAH that potential stadium renovations are not in the design phase and that no architect has even been hired. Actual additional renovations to the 93-year-old stadium, such as more luxury boxes or all chair-back seats, are a long way off.
The relocation of an NFL team to a college stadium is also not without precedent. The Panthers played home games at Clemson while waiting for their home stadium to be built in the ’90s, as did the Titans at Vanderbilt before Nissan Stadium was built. The Bears also played Illinois while Soldier Field underwent renovations in the early 2000s. The Chargers recently spent two seasons playing in a football stadium while waiting for SoFI Stadium to be built. The Jags have contacted the nearby University of North Florida about using their small facility on campus, but would probably need some major temporary updates as it only has 12,000 seats. Other options could include Orlando’s Camping World Stadium, though the Orlando mayor’s office told Spectrum News They haven’t had discussions with the Jaguars..
The future of the Gator Bowl game may also have to be considered, and it’s not without precedent for playing it elsewhere either. The 1994 game between Tennessee and Virginia Tech was played in Gainesville.