Georgia and Florida will play for the 77th time in Jacksonville Saturday in their annual rivalry game, and the city is making it more attractive for the schools to return under a new six-year deal that will keep the game there through 2016.
The schools and the city of Jacksonville have reached a verbal agreement for the game, University of Georgia executive athletic director Frank Crumley said Tuesday, but final details of the contract still are being worked out.
The current four-year contract ends after the 2010 game.
Among changes in the new deal:
-- The city of Jacksonville will pay for travel for the Georgia football team to fly out of Athens into St. Augustine, Fla. - where the team hotel is located - and fly back from Jacksonville to Athens after the game. That's worth more than $100,000 per year. Florida is currently picking up half of Georgia's travel cost.
-- Each school will get an additional $50,000 to offset expenses, including hotel costs and meals.
-- The schools will be allotted an additional 500 parking spaces at lots around Jacksonville Municipal Stadium to give each 1,500 spaces to distribute.
-- Control of the marketing assets to the game go to the two schools instead of being split three ways with the city of Jacksonville. Georgia received about $80,000 from marketing of the game last year.
-- The city will provide more alcohol control at The Landing in Jacksonville and ensure that a fair near the stadium won't be held at the same time as the game to avoid additional traffic.
Georgia nets about $1.6 million annually for the Florida game, which has been played in Jacksonville since 1933 with the exception of 1994 and 1995 when it moved to the campuses while the stadium was renovated. A home game in Athens is worth about $2.8 million for Georgia, but the Bulldogs rotate home and away with their SEC opponents.
"Going down there was not about the money," Crumley said. "It's about the tradition of the game without a doubt. These are things they did just to show both schools they wanted both schools there."
Under the deal, Georgia and Florida have the opportunity to maximize marketing opportunities that surround the game, including the possibility of signing a title sponsor for the game.
"It gives the schools greater control over marketing assets and inventory," Georgia associate athletic director Alan Thomas said. "This game certainly has not done the same marketing things that a Red River rivalry could do (between Texas and Oklahoma). With the marketing assets we've put in place with this, it gives us that ability to maximize the best opportunity. That doesn't mean we will, but over a six-year deal who knows what's going to happen over the next six years. We want to put ourselves in the most favorable opportunity."