Since most folks can remember, the Florida Gators and Georgia Bulldogs have settled their football score on the fields in Jacksonville. Besides a brief two-year series in ‘94 & ‘95 held in Gainesville & Athens, the SEC rivals have faced off every season in J-Ville since 1933.
But the contract to play their series in northeast Florida expires next year. And some officials in Atlanta are snapping at the chance to host the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in their fair city.
Leon Stafford of the ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION reports that the Atlanta Sports Council has spurred talks about moving the UF-UGA game to Georgia soil - specifically, the Georgia Dome. Many Bulldogs fans have growled about the game always being held in Florida territory.
And since there’s a new four-year deal in the works, council president Gary Stokan would like Atlanta to grab a piece of valuable pigskin pie. But he isn’t trying to be greedy:
“We’re not asking to move half the games or all of the games to Atlanta,” Stokan said. “We respect tradition. We’re just looking for one of the four.”
Strangely, it’s University of Georgia officials that haven’t been so gung-ho about moving the Florida game to a locale 90 minutes away from campus. Georgia athletic director Damon Evans said the ASC has approached the school about playing in Atlanta, but there hasn’t been any further discussion:
“We haven’t talked about any specifics involving the game,” Evans said. “As always we’ll consider what’s best for Georgia and do what’s appropriate. But we’re not in talks with them right now. They just broached the subject to us, as they have before. But there’s not any ongoing dialogue going on about it right now.”
Not surprisingly, Florida A.D. Jeremy Foley is in no hurry to move the contest out of the Sunshine State. It’s all about tradition:
“Obviously, we have heard of these kind of discussions before,” Foley said. “We have been strong proponents of keeping the game in Jacksonville and that has not changed. I have a great deal of respect for Damon and I know that he must do what he thinks is best for the University of Georgia. We believe the Florida-Georgia game in Jacksonville is a great tradition and we look forward to maintaining that tradition.”
But Stokan does have a point. Would it kill the schools just to hold at least one game in Atlanta? Sure, the Georgia Dome holds 10,000 less than the Jacksonville stadium, but think of all the fun Florida fans could have visiting the World of Coca Cola or CNN Tower! What else is there to see or do in Jacksonville, besides get drunk & violent?
Then again, that’s your typical SEC fan experience, no matter where you are. To be fair, it isn’t much different for any college football fan anywhere.