For over 80 years, the Georgia Bulldogs and Florida Gators have had to travel to face each other. With rare exceptions, Florida and Georgia have played their annual rivalry game in Jacksonville, Florida, since the 1930s. But why is this the case? What is the significance of the Gators and Bulldogs playing in Jacksonville? Both sides have given up significant advantages to have this game happen where it does. What is the purpose of this?
Why will Florida and Georgia meet in Jacksonville?
Train lines between the individual college cities and Jacksonville were widely accessible for supporters, according to Florida historian Norm Carlson. So, why not get together there? This long-running battle has been hosted in Jacksonville for decades, making the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party an unusual yearly event.
While there appears to be a general trend toward transferring college football games to neutral locations, just a few rivalry games are played at neutral sites annually. This rivalry has never been played on either team’s campus, and it doesn’t appear that it will be moved away from Jacksonville soon. It’s time for the Georgia Bulldogs to travel on the road to face an old foe.
Every year, the Bulldogs face the Florida Gators in their home state, not ours. Many Bulldog supporters believe that the games being played in Jacksonville are unjust. Nothing beats seeing a game in your own stadium, especially when you’re facing a competitor. Even yet, the Georgia Bulldogs and Florida Gators have had to travel for their annual football game for over 80 years.
The Bulldogs are based in Athens, while the Gators are based in Gainesville, Florida. When the two do meet, it will be on the seashore in Jacksonville. This is why. College football stadiums were not as large in the early 1900s as they are now. Loran Smith, a Georgia sports historian, said it was not uncommon for competitors to meet in neutral sites to lure a larger audience.
Fairfield Stadium in Jacksonville hosted two or three games every year for Florida. According to Bill Delaney, a historian and Jacksonville native, even as Georgia and Florida built larger stadiums for themselves, they recognized the advantage of playing in a larger city with possibly higher ticket prices. Jacksonville, on the train line, was a straightforward trip for fans of both clubs.
One game was canceled because of World War II. For two years, the stadium was closed for redevelopment. Otherwise, Georgia and Florida have played every year in Jacksonville since 1933. Over the years, there have been conversations about relocating it, but tradition has prevailed.
The two institutions agreed to extend their contracts in order to keep the game in Jacksonville until at least 2023 (and maybe until 2025 if everyone is pleased), but Georgia head coach Kirby Smart appears to be open to shifting the game. Florida head coach Dan Mullen seemed to be cool with the notion. And if you can get two competing head coaches to agree on something, things could change.
Here are some Facts about why Georgia and Florida play in Jacksonville
The two colleges dispute the start date of their rivalry. Georgia claims the tradition began in 1904 when the Bulldogs defeated the University of Florida at Lake City (one of the four forerunners of the contemporary university) 52-0.
Florida claims that the rivalry began in 1905 when the state government merged its public colleges to become the University of Florida in Gainesville. That means the rivalry began in 1915 when the two genuine universities first met. As a result, Georgia claims a 54-44-2 series lead, while Florida claims a 53-44-2 record.
Hall of Fame for Georgia-Florida
This rivalry is notable for having its own hall of fame. It was established in 1995 by the Jacksonville Sports and Entertainment Office “to recognize the many outstanding records, performances, career highlights, and outstanding memories that have made the Georgia-Florida game one of college football’s best traditions.”
Four players are inducted each year. Champ Bailey and John Little from Georgia, as well as Trey Burton and Andre “Bubba” Caldwell from Florida, are among this year’s class.
A Rivalry at its Pinnacle
Florida or Georgia has won the previous seven SEC East championships and eight of the last ten. While the Gators are struggling this season, this rivalry is at its peak.