$2.75million+ gets Jacksonville a Florida/Georgia extension

A First Coast tradition is sticking around.

A five year extension of the Florida/Georgia contract has been agreed upon by the City, University of Florida, and University of Georgia. Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry signed a terms sheet Wednesday, although the overall contract is still subject to approval by the City Council.

This year’s game is the final one under the existing contract. As part of this new agreement, the Florida Gators and Georgia Bulldogs will each now get a $125,000 “signing bonus” for this year’s game, and $250,000 each year of the contract- a total of $2.75 million in incentives.

Curry says that money will be programmed in to the City's budget and believes it's a worthwhile return when you consider the estimated $35 million economic impact the game had in Jacksonville last year.

“It’s an important tradition for the fabric, the culture in the City of Jacksonville,” he says.

The City estimates around 127,000 visitors to the First Coast as a result of the game, and millions of television viewers.

In addition to that $2.75 million bill, the City will also pay each team $10,000 more as a travel stipend- now $60,000 each. The University of Georgia also gets air travel costs covered up to $350,000 under the new terms- comparable to what they receive under the current contract.

The terms that don’t change- the teams retain all of the ticket revenue and almost all of the sponsorship money, while not paying anything to use the stadium.

The City had been seeking a longer extension, but Curry says he's happy with what they reached. Contract extension negotiations start immediately after the 2018 game- two years in to the contract- and Curry says that will "mitigate" any uncertainty about the future.

He also credited the Jacksonville Jaguars, and their continued investment in EverBank Field and the surrounding area, which he calls a “big selling point”.

“Our ongoing investment in EverBank Field will ensure an unparalleled game day experience,” says Council President Greg Anderson.

Part of the ongoing renovations at the stadium include removing seats from the Club Level. The Florida/Georgia contract includes an obligation to provide a certain number of seats. Per the stadium renovation contract, the Jaguars and City will split the cost to temporarily construct those bleachers.

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That's in addition to the seats the City pays to build both as part of the initial agreement with the schools and, more recently, to supplement other renovations at the north and south end of the stadium which removed even more seats.

The terms sheet doesn’t indicate if the City will be obligated to provide the same number of seats overall, but indicates that the City is working on a “customized seating solution”.

The new terms also give each school rights to use a 16 ticket Luxury Suite at the Veterans Memorial Arena four times per year, on a first-come first-served basis and guarantee a designated number of tickets to any pregame concert or similar event the City sets up. The City is additionally bound to “use its best efforts” to create two permanent sign positions for the game at EverBank Field, starting with the 2017 game.

The full contract will be written by Jacksonville's General Counsel and must be approved by all parties by April 15th.

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