Jacksonville leaders talk ‘$75-$80M’ economic impact of college football, military events


After a month defined by preparation for and recovery from Hurricane Matthew, Jacksonville could use some good news, positive economic activity, and a whole lotta fun.

City leaders say it’s coming later in October and early in November, via both sporting events (the 2016 Georgia vs. Florida game and the Navy vs. Notre Dame game) and military events, in the form of the Jacksonville Sea and Sky Air Show and Veterans Day Parade.

On Tuesday morning, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, JAXSPORTS Council’s Rick Catlett, and the city’s sports and entertainment czar Dave Herrell spoke at some length about the cumulative “$75 to $80 million economic impact” of this quartet of sports and military events.

Georgia/Florida on Oct. 29 and Navy/Notre Dame on Nov. 5 will generate the bulk of that impact, at $30 million each. The Sea and Sky Air Show on Nov. 5 and 6 and the Veterans Day parade on Nov. 11 will generate the rest.

Catlett and Curry lauded the unique synergy.

Catlett called it “an unprecedented time for our city as we prepare for the three most impactful back-to-back weekends in Jacksonville history.”

Curry appreciated the events as a “football fan and a son of a military veteran,” he said in the press release ahead of the presentation.

During the presentation, Curry noted this “solidifies what you’ve always known about Jacksonville,” as a leader in sports and entertainment, and as the “most military-friendly city in the United States.”

Curry spoke to the economic impact, from “heads in beds” to other drivers of “major economic impact.”

“We’ll continue to go on no sleep,” Curry said, “but for some fun reasons this time.”

Herrell noted “we are 10 days out from the Florida/Georgia game,” which officially kicks off with the opening of RV City, a “very fun atmosphere in the sports complex for all the folks that come in.”

On Oct. 26, a welcome center will open up in Metropolitan Park; that evening, there will be a Florida exhibition basketball game against Eckerd College.

On Oct. 28, the Florida/Georgia Hall of Fame luncheon and induction ceremony occurs, with former Jaguar Marcus Stroud on the list of inductees. Also on the induction list is sportscaster Verne Lundquist.

Among other events, the Avett Brothers will also be in town that Friday, and Herrell notes tickets are still available.

Catlett noted the synergy of two big rivalry games on back-to-back weekends, with ticket sales being “absolutely tremendous.”

There will, ahead of Navy/Notre Dame, be “all kinds of military assets across the city,” including the Navy band at ArtWalk, and the Chamber’s military appreciation luncheon (celebrating the billion-dollar economic impact of the military on Jacksonville).

“And you know how we love to blow things up,” said Catlett, “so there will probably be a fireworks show somewhere.”

From there, the gameday experience, including the ceremonial marching in of Navy Midshipmen into the stadium.

Sea and Sky, as is customary, will be at Jax Beach, feature the Blue Angels, and is expected to draw up to 150,000 spectators to what Herrell calls a “family-friendly event,” including live entertainment and a street festival.

The Veterans Day Parade, one of the largest in the Southeast, starts at EverBank Field and ends at Prime Osborn Convention Center, with 5,000 participants, Herrell said.

There will also be a Florida basketball doubleheader that Friday.

The women take on South Alabama; the men take on Florida Gulf Coast.

Florida will play Mercer on the 13th at the arena, and on that weekend, the Jaguars host Houston.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


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