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FLORIDA-GEORGIA GAME

The Florida Georgia game is one of the nation's oldest and fiercest football rivalries; it is usually played on the last Saturday in October.  The rivalry began in 1915.

Since 1933, this football game has been played in Jacksonville.

It is currently played at TIAA Bank Field - home of the Jacksonville Jaguars of the NFL - on the banks of the St. Johns River.

It is a signature Florida event that has all the aspects of a festival.

The Gator mascot is Albert, a ferocious alligator.  Georgia's mascot is an equally ferocious bulldog named UGA (pronounced UGGA).

Like many NFL stadiums in America, the name of this stadium has changed over the years.

For eons the stadium was simply known as the Gator Bowl.  It was the city stadium where the annual Gator Bowl was played as well as the Florida-Georgia game.

Then it became AllTel and then Everbank,  and in 2018 it became known by the catchy name "TIAA Bank Field".  Commit it to your short term memory because, unlike Lambeau Field in Green Bay, it will probably be renamed again.

The Gator Bowl game, one of the leading Florida events each year, is still played here.

There is nothing I'd rather do on a fall weekend than go to the Florida-Georgia game.  I've been going to it off and on for more than 50 years, and the pageantry and rivalry is beyond anything else I've ever seen in college football or any other Florida event.

In my opinion, the Florida-Georgia game even tops the Florida-Florida State rivalry.

TIAA Bank Field on the St Johns River in JacksonvilleTIAA Bank Field on the St Johns River in Jacksonville

The events leading up to the game have been known for years as the "world's largest outdoor cocktail party". That designation has fallen out of favor with the officials, but there is still plenty of fun for drinkers and teetotalers alike.

For many years, an Amtrak train bedecked in Orange and Blue made the annual pilgrimage to Jax, picking up Gator faithful all the way from Tampa, Orlando, Miami and points in between. It was one of the traditional Florida events enjoyed by Gator fans for many years.

The train disgorged the mellow passengers at the Jax train station and buses carried the crowds the rest of the way to the stadium. That grand train trip is no more, in the dustbin of Florida events.

Of all Florida events, tickets to the Florida-Georgia game can be very hard to get.  I've been lucky some years just going up there and buying a ticket from somebody at the last minute.

I won't use the word scalper, because scalping is illegal at Florida events and many other places.

It's best to be in political office in Florida or Georgia. Elected officials always seem to be able to get tickets.

If you can't get a ticket, just drive up to Jax and soak up the fun at a local sports bar. You will soon get into the spirit of the rivalry and make it one of your favorite Florida events.

Disclosure:  The author of this article is a life member of the University of Florida Alumni Association.



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