City expects Florida-Georgia game to bring in just $700k in revenue

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Florida-Georgia game will kick off this Saturday. Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said the economic impact is at least $30 million dollars.

“It’s a tremendous value to the city of Jacksonville,” Curry said, during a news conference Monday.

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Action News Jax’s Meghan Moriarty followed up with the city and reviewed the contract between the two colleges and the City of Jacksonville, to see how much this game will cost the city versus how much the city makes from it.

A city spokesperson said the city expects about $700,000 in revenue from the event.

A 2019 event impact study of the Florida-Georgia game done by Visit Jacksonville showed an economic impact of $33 million. The game itself generated a little over $516,129 in local tax revenue. A city spokesperson said the City of Jacksonville makes $400,000 in parking, food and beverage sales.

Action News Jax first reported last week that the seating capacity at the game will be reduced by 5,600 as part of an agreement between the schools and the city. The 66-page document said as a result, the city will pay $400,000 to each school.

A spokesperson with the mayor’s office sent us a statement that read, “The city is required to spend this money either way, according to the existing contract. We either pay to erect the seats and then the schools recoup money from those ticket sales, or the money that was dedicated to building the seats goes to the schools.” Instead of the north end zone having bleacher seating, as it has in the past, the area will be open to fans, similar to how it is at Jaguars games.

Moriarty followed up to clarify that erecting the bleachers would cost $800,000. That number includes materials and labor. A city spokesperson said, “If you’ve never seen the bleachers before, they are massive and it’s not an easy task.”

Action News Jax spoke sent Kristi Sweeney the contract to review. She’s an associate professor at UNF with a Ph.D. in sports management.

“I do think the city is fair in always referencing economic impact, because that really becomes the — I wouldn’t call it revenue of the game — but becomes the impact of new dollars that come in from outside of Jacksonville,” Sweeney said. “I think if you look at the game itself, hosting the game, I would venture to say (it) costs the city money.”

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Sweeney adds that the two colleges benefit greatly from the game.

“All of the ticket revenue, which appears to me in terms to the contract including the sales tax, exclusively belongs to both schools,” Sweeney said. “All of the operating expenses and really, (the) costs of hosting the event, are undertaken by the City of Jacksonville.”

Sweeney said that there is an emotional connection to hosting the game, which some may argue outweighs the money — something that Mayor Curry echoed on Monday.

“The other part of this is the tradition, this year,” Mayor Curry said, “there’s an intangible that even far outweighs the economic impact.”

The city council will vote on a new contract on Tuesday that keeps the game in Jacksonville through 2025. The finance committee unanimously approved this agreement last week and it will be voted on as emergency legislation.