For Jacksonville, this wasn’t how it was supposed to go.
But Hurricane Dorian forced an audible.
Jacksonville’s tradition of hosting neutral site, destination college football games was to continue Saturday, with an evening clash between Boise State and Florida State.
The battle between the perennial ACC power and the perpetual Mountain West Conference champions, alas, will not be in Jacksonville. Instead, it will be a Tallahassee home game for the Seminoles, with a bowling-shoe ugly noon kickoff time.
“After consulting with emergency responders, law enforcement and hurricane preparedness teams at the state and local level, moving the game is the best option given the information we have at this time,” Florida State athletics director David Coburn said.
The impact will be bowling-shoe ugly for Jacksonville also if a previous neutral-site matchup is any indication.
Outside of annual events such as the Florida-Georgia game, the last neutral site game was a 2016 tilt between Navy and Notre Dame. It was estimated to have a $30 million economic impact for the city.
The lost impact is unknown, Mayor Lenny Curry said.
“Tourism, bed tax, etc.,” Curry said. “But you can’t put a number on human life.”
People paid what was called “bowl game prices” for the FSU game. 45,000 seats sold, with 28,000 from out of town.
Now, it’s a home game for the Seminoles with $10 tickets.
“We regret having to move the venue in particular because of the tremendous work that the city of Jacksonville has invested,” Coburn said.
And another illustration of how planning has to adjust during hurricane season.
Weather in Jacksonville shouldn’t be too bad Saturday night: low 80s and a 20 percent chance of rain.
But the potential of a storm threatening required a decision, and that decision was made 48 hours before kickoff.
“It’s a tough decision, but the right decision,” Mayor Curry said, urging media to imagine the optics if football game on ESPN during evacuations.
Curry is not issuing evacuation orders; however, he urges “mandatory prayer.”
The latest forecast for Hurricane Dorian has shown the storm is strengthening and possibly becoming a Category 4 storm as it approaches Florida. The 11 a.m. advisory says winds could reach 130 mph when the hurricane is just off the South Florida coast on Sunday morning.
“The risk of devastating hurricane-force winds along the Florida east coast and peninsula late this weekend and early next week continues to increase, although it is too soon to determine where the strongest winds will occur,” the National Hurricane Center says in a discussion of the storm.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.