Jacksonville, FL — Tens of thousands of college football fans are ready to crowd Downtown Jacksonville for the annual Georgia/Florida game, and event organizers are pushing a few key messages, to ensure your experience is as enjoyable as possible.
Kickoff is at 3:30PM and will broadcast on CBS. The University of Georgia Bulldogs are the home team, sitting on the west side of the stadium. The University of Florida Gators are the visitors, and will be on the east side. In all, around 82,000 fans are expected at the game, which the City has hosted since 1933.
RV City opened Tuesday morning. City of Jacksonville Special Events Manager Brent Fine says they’re expecting around 100 RVs to occupy to lot leading up to the game Saturday.
There will be very limited cash lots available, so the City is calling on you to get a parking pass ahead of time. They want you parked by 10:30AM, about five hours before kickoff, to ensure you don’t get caught in traffic. Around 1:30PM- when gates to the stadium open- JSO says they will start favoring pedestrian traffic, so if you’re still trying to drive in the area, it could be very slow moving. You’re encouraged to take a picture of where you park, so you can get help finding your spot later.
JTA is running the Gameday Xpress shuttle service, beginning at 12:30PM and lasting through one hour after the game ends. You can park for free at several locations both in Downtown and other areas of the City, and then ride the bus to and from the game, for a small cost.
JTA's Skyway is operating for free, with all stops in service except the one at the Convention Center. A full list of the park-and-ride lots and Skyway schedule is on the event website.
You can also consider the River Taxi, which offers a $10 all day hop-on, hop-off pass. Stops include near the Jacksonville Landing, the Met Park Marina, the Lexington Hotel, and Friendship Fountain.
There will be a free Corey Smith concert Friday night at the Daily’s Place Flex Field adjacent to TIAA Bank Field, to formally kick off the weekend. Gates open at 6PM, and you will enter through the hangar doors off Gator Bowl Blvd.
Daily’s Place is hosting a “Fan Experience” Saturday from 9AM through the end of halftime. That will include giveaways, food, and more.
On Saturday, the Sports Complex is hosting both ESPN College GameDay and SEC Nation. ESPN College GameDay will be at Met Park, near the Fire Museum, from 9AM through noon. SEC Nation will be from 10AM through noon, at Lot P. Paul Finebaum will also host his show at that location on Friday from 3PM to 7PM.
It’s the first time both shows have broadcast from the same game, according to the City.
The University of Georgia Dawg Walk will take place around 1:15PM between gates 2 and 3. The University of Florida Gator Walk will be around gate 1, also around 1:15PM.
Gates open at 1:30PM at TIAA Bank Field, and the City’s event management company SMG says you should head to your seats early.
“The nation and the world are watching, and both the football teams of Georgia and Florida, they want the stadium rocking at kickoff,” says SMG General Manager Bill McConnell.
Just ahead of the game, there will be a flyover by the Blue Angels, who are in town to take part in the annual Air Show, which is being held the same weekend at NAS Jacksonville.
Safety and security
The standard clear bag policy will be in effect, prohibiting any purse that’s larger than 4.5”x6.5”. Clear totes are permissible, if they are not larger than 12”x6”x12”. Fans entering the stadium will also go through a metal detector, as part of normal safety procedures at the stadium.
While JSO always has a large footprint for this weekend, they are mobilizing more officers than prior years, because of last weekend’s shooting just before kickoff of the Jaguars v. Texans game, which hurt six people. In all, JSO says they will have around 650 officers out, both in uniform and plain clothes.
“That’s over a third of our sworn police officers on JSO. That’s how serious we take this event. We enjoy this event, we look forward to it, but there’s no expense that we’re not gunna spend, to take care of the fans, the players, and the patrons that are coming down here,” says JSO Chief of Special Events Andre Ayoub.
They are also adding more lights along A Philip Randolph Blvd and increasing the number of rapid response assets that are deployed.
If you need any kind of assistance- from medical needs to a charge for your cell phone to directions- there are six Sideline Safety Zones sponsored by UF Health.
As in prior years, anyone who seeks assistance in these Sideline Safety Zones for either themselves or their friends will not be subject to legal action, if there are alcohol issues involved. Aside from those Zones, though, JSO says they will be fully enforcing action against anyone drinking while underage. Fans of all ages are also reminded to prepare for a long day.
“We look at this through the lends of a marathon. It’s gunna be an early start, it’s gunna be a late night, so the safety message we like t o push out is stay hydrated,” says Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department Director and Fire Chief Kurt Wilson.
JSO is further encouraging you to stay with a buddy, and keep in mind that it will be dark as you leave the game.
You can also get help from the Welcome Center, which is open Wednesday through Saturday behind Lot K, at Met Park.
The City has a website dedicated to the game, to answer any additional questions.
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