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Florida-Georgia Games To Continue In Jacksonville At Least Five More Years

Ryan Benk

The University of Florida and University of Georgia’s football rivalry will stay in Jacksonville for at least another five years, city officials announced Wednesday.

Mayor Lenny Curry says a deal to extend the city’s contract to host the Florida-Georgia game was on life support before his election.

“What my team did on this issue is what my team has done on every issue since we’ve taken office: We got to work on it. So many people in this room that immediately jumped on the case — we are about solving problems, creating opportunities and getting things done.”

Nearly every announcing a new business partnership — like Google Fiber in October or Ernst & Young’s expansion earlier this month — Curry’s hinted at his predecessor, Alvin Brown’s inability to close a deal.

Under the sports new contract, the universities will continue to rake in a percentage of ticket sales, and they’ll also score an annual $250,000 incentive to sweeten the deal.

According to Jacksonville's sports office, the 2015 Florida-Georgia weekend had a $35 million economic impact, though only $20 million could be directly traced to the game. The remaining $15 million is a projection using a Visit Jacksonville tourism calculator. That estimate also doesn't include how much the city spends on extra law enforcement, promotional material and other expenses.

The city had hoped for a longer contract, but Curry says after two years, Jacksonville can renegotiate.

Ryan Benk is a former WJCT News reporter who joined the station in 2015 after working as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU in Tallahassee.