Platinum-selling country artist Cole Swindell will perform a free postgame concert following the 2018 Gator Bowl, which is scheduled to kickoff at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 31.
The TaxSlayer Gator Bowl New Year’s Eve Celebration will get started at 4:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve with Happy Hour at the TaxSlayer Tailgate at Daily’s Place. Then, “for the first time in over 25 years, the Gator Bowl will be a prime time ESPN 7:30 kickoff,” announced Jamie Shelton, this year’s chairman of the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl.
Cole Swindell has been named a top new country artist by Billboard, was nominated for a Country Music Awards best “New Artist of the Year” award, and was named Music Row’s Breakthrough Songwriter of the Year. The Savannah, Georgia, native is a four-time BMI award winner for No. 1 hits he wrote for Thomas Rhett, Luke Bryan and the Florida Georgia Line, as well as his own hit “Hope You Get Lonely Tonight.” Swindell’s third album, which was released in August, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Albums Chart and No. 7 on the Billboard Top 200.
“I tell you what, this is such a big deal to me to be here today,” Swindell told reporters at the Bank on Tuesday. “I always dreamed of playing in venues like this, but actually playing sports. I never knew I’d be singing my songs in ‘em.”
Mayor Lenny Curry also spoke, saying over its 74 year history, the Gator Bowl has had a huge economic impact in Northeast Florida.
“I think it’s important for people and taxpayers to know anytime we do these events, there is an economic impact,” Curry said. “There’s bed tax, there’s sales tax, there’s all the dollars and revenues that come back into the city that allow us to then invest those in city services.”
According to TaxSlayer, which bought the exclusive naming rights to the event in 2014, the Gator Bowl provides between $14 million and $16 million in economic impact to Northeast Florida annually, and it generates over $500,000 in charitable donations each year.
The Gator Bowl was founded in 1946 and has been in Jacksonville ever since. It’s one of the longest continually held college bowl games in the country, and it was the first bowl game to be nationally televised, according to TaxSlayer.
Tickets to the event can be bought at the Gator Bowl's website.