The rivalry formerly known as The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party will continue to be played in Jacksonville at EverBank Field through the 2021 season. Some could prefer the usual home and home series, including me in some cases as one of them, but hosting one of the biggest rivalries in the SEC in Jacksonville couldn’t be more special. Another thing that is making this more special than ever is two newer faces on the sidelines. Jim McElwain will be in his second season at Florida while Kirby Smart makes his debut for Georgia.
The most important aspect is that Jacksonville has hosted the rivalry since 1933, with the exception of 1994 and 1995 due to construction. Not only is it home to this SEC rivalry, but also home to the Jacksonville Jaguars and the TaxSlayer Bowl. One of the concerns was the renovations that were soon to take place would affect stadium capacity. While seating can be set to over 80,000, the Jaguars place a tarp on some seats to reduce capacity to around 65,000 per game, most due to poor attendance in recent years. The rivalry usually sells out every season and both schools were guaranteed to draw close to 90,000 after renovations were finished.
The game has been played on the exact same site where the original Gator Bowl Stadium once stood in 1949. Even with the lack of success with the Jaguars in recent years, the SEC and the TaxSlayer Bowl have helped keep football in Jacksonville. Although the city has to approve the deal, it is expected to go through. Turns out that the game is more than just a tradition, it’s pretty much an institution. If Jacksonville were to somehow lose the game, it would mean losing a lot of revenue. Jacksonville needs to keep the SEC in their city to keep on going.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Bryan Law