What happens to World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party during Jags’ stadium renovations?
Image via AP.

Florida Georgia football
The annual Florida-Georgia game could be played in 3 different locations over the course of 2026, 2027 and 2028.

If, as expected, the Jacksonville City Council approves the agreement to begin renovations on EverBank Stadium next week, the timeline for work and how it will impact the Jaguars and other events at the stadium will be fleshed out.

That will include the impact on the annual college football game between Florida and Georgia, known as the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. The game made Jacksonville its home in all but two years since 1933.

The likeliest scenario would have the Jaguars playing the 2026 season in a stadium with reduced capacity and vacating the stadium in 2027. That would force the Gators and Bulldogs to play elsewhere for two years.

“For the immediate, we’ve got to look at other options, whether that’s home-and-home, whether it’s neutral sites. So, we’re looking,” Georgia Athletic Director Josh Brooks said last month at the Georgia Athletics Association Board of Directors meeting. “We’re working with Florida to look at the options for those two years (2026 and 2027) and then beyond that.”

The stadium renovations in Jacksonville should eventually provide more premium seating and additional revenue opportunities that will make keeping the game in Jacksonville economically attractive, in addition to continuing one of the great traditions in college football.

“We’ve had some conversations. We have a general sense of the direction that might be heading,” said Scott Stricklin, Florida’s Athletic Director. “That would be the timeline. I think that’s going to be later this Summer. When the city approves formally the stadium work there in Jacksonville and then the NFL (approves).”

NFL owners will vote on the plan in October. To be successful, 24 of 32 owners must vote to approve the plan.

“Once that construction’s complete, we’re excited to go back there and see the potential and opportunities to make it a really special game with what they’re talking about doing there,” Brooks said. “It looks like it’s going to be an amazing project.”

When the renovations are complete, the capacity for NFL games would be around 63,000 seats, but that could be expanded to nearly 72,000 for the Georgia-Florida game.

In the meantime, the decision about whether to play the games on campus or in different neutral site cities is being pondered.

If the games are played on campus, it would be a return to the approach taken in 1994 and 1995, when the Gator Bowl was being renovated in advance of the Jaguars’ first season in the NFL.

Games could simply be played in Gainesville and Athens, which would be simple from an operations standpoint but would likely not be as lucrative as playing the games in, say, Atlanta, Orlando or Tampa.

As for the return to Jacksonville, the city has been working internally on a plan. But the schools and the city have not yet met to discuss what will happen in the future until after the stadium vote is taken.

Cole Pepper

Cole Pepper has covered professional, college and high school sports in Florida since 1996. Originally from the Kansas City area, Pepper came to Jacksonville to launch a sports radio station, the first step in a career that has included work in radio, television, and online reporting. He was the studio host for the Jaguars radio network for 15 seasons and now consults for JAX USL, the group bringing professional men's and women's soccer to northeast Florida. You can reach Cole at [email protected] or on Twitter @ColePepper


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