Jacksonville mayor suggests Georgia-Florida could go to home-home while stadium undergoes renovations

Georgia Bulldogs tight end Brock Bowers (19) runs after making a bobbled catch against Florida Gators linebacker Amari Burney (2) for a 73-yard touchdown during the second quarter in a NCAA football game at TIAA Bank Field, Saturday, October 29, 2022, in Jacksonville, Florida. Georgia won 42-20. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party may briefly be turning into a home-and-home. That’s according to Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, as the city of Jacksonville is in the midst of considering renovations to TIAA Bank Field.

Curry, while speaking on 1010 XL, was asked about how possible renovations to the Jacksonville Jaguars’ home field would impact the Georgia-Florida game. The Jacksonville Mayor expects that the stadium renovations would take two years to complete.

“Part of this deal does also take into consideration the Georgia-Florida, Florida-Georgia game,” Curry said. “My chief administrative officer right now is in regular communications and talks with both schools. So we’re still working the deal. Ideally, we’re in 2023 so maybe it’s a 2025-2026 renovation. That would be a good goal.

“And then both schools would in those two years get their home game. And then the goal is to have already negotiated a deal that they’re back in Jacksonville in the new stadium in ‘27 and beyond.”

Curry reiterated multiple times throughout the interview that the renovated stadium would be “state of the art” and that the Jaguars would hopefully play in Jacksonville. The Jaguars will play multiple games in London this year. There are no official plans yet for any renovations regarding the stadium.

As far as Georgia-Florida, the Bulldogs and Gators did have a home-and-home in 1994 and 1995 when Jacksonville’s stadium was getting upgrades. Florida won both of those games.

The current contract between Georgia, Florida and the city of Jacksonville runs through the 2023 season, with the option to extend the contract to 2025. Georgia has been the home team in even-numbered years.

Both schools put out a statement last October regarding the future of the game as it pertains to being played in Jacksonville.

“The annual game between our two universities is an important tradition,” the statement said. “At this time, both programs are focused on our current seasons. Typically both schools begin conversations regarding future games in the series as the last contracted game nears. We anticipate following that timeline. When those discussions take place, we will consider a multitude of factors including tradition, finances, future SEC scheduling models with the addition of Texas and Oklahoma, and what is best for both schools’ football programs overall.”

The SEC is weighing the decision of whether or not to have an 8-game schedule or a 9-game conference schedule. In either scenario, Florida is expected to be an annual opponent for the Bulldogs.

Head coach Kirby Smart has made the case for why a home-and-home would be appealing to a program like Georgia, even with the game being played in Jacksonville on an annual basis dating back to 1933. The only exception was the 1994 and 1995 seasons.

“When it comes down to it, there’s a very, very basic element of everything comes back to, number one money and number two, recruiting and getting good players,” Smart said in October. “I firmly believe that we’ll be able to sign better players by having it as a home-and-home because we’ll have more opportunities to get them to campus. But, I also think there’s a financial factor that factors into that, with having the game there, and being able to make more money for the university, possibly, there. You have to weigh both those and make really good decisions.”

Smart is 5-2 as a head coach against the Gators, with Georgia winning last year’s game 42-20.

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