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City: Florida-Georgia Weekend Scored $35 Million In Economic Impact

Jacksonville’s Sports and Entertainment Office says the recent annual football game between the University of Florida and University of Georgia had a $35 million economic impact on the city.

But that number may be too optimistic.

The rivalry between the Georgia Bulldogs and Florida Gators has played out in Jacksonville for almost a century. City leaders have long extolled the game’s economic impact, and this year is no different.

“Certainly the results from this year we’re really proud to show that we’ve got a $35 million impact,” the sports office’s Dave Herrell says.

He says that number includes both direct and indirect impacts.

“From a direct economic impact, and that’s really your heads in beds, you’re looking at a $20 million economic impact," Herrell said.  “I think it’s hard to argue that the Florida-Georgia game doesn’t benefit our city.”

But the remaining $15 million in indirect effects is more of a best guess by tourism marketer Visit Jacksonville. The estimate also doesn’t take into account how much the city spent on the event for extra law enforcement, promotional costs and other expenses.

Still, Herrell says there’s no denying the game is good for Jacksonville.

“No it doesn’t factor in any of those details, but I will tell you this: The return on investment for Florida-Georgia in terms of what is spent on it to what it yields is certainly a great business deal for the city,” he says.

And one benefit that can’t be quantified, he says, is the game’s cultural contribution to the city’s character. 

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.