After the pandemic-induced sports drought, fans have been mighty thirsty for fall college football. Here in northeast Florida, there’s no bigger college football game than the storied Southern rivalry between Florida and Georgia.
Normally each year when the big game between the Dawgs and Gators approaches, downtown Fernandina Beach and elsewhere around this barrier island is bustling with Georgia football fans. They arrive to enjoy local restaurants and bars, hit the beach and stay overnight for a few days at oceanfront condos, villas, and hotels. Or they stay at their second homes that many Georgians own on Amelia Island, FL.
During these pandemic days, however, things will no doubt be different. Just how different the Georgia fan flow will be on Amelia Island and in Jacksonville this year, remains to be seen. But it appears stadium capacity limits will mean far fewer fans will travel to northeast Florida for this fall game.
TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville, Florida
The game is scheduled to be played Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020 at its traditional venue in Jacksonville, FL, with the same kickoff time at 3:30 pm. It appears the Georgia Vs. Florida game will have about 17,000 fans at TIAA Bank Field. This number equates to 25% of total capacity. Scott Stricklin, UF’s athletic director, reportedly had indicated this intent (the same capacity limit for the NFL Jacksonville Jaguar games), according to The Florida Times-Union.
* UPDATE * An October 23, 2020 news release from the city of Jacksonville covering the Georgia-Florida game provided some updated information. Here’s a glance at game day rules for fans and stadium procedures “to ensure safety amongst all fans and attendees due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.”
- NO TAILGATING for the Georgia-Florida game in the stadium parking lots.
- Only game ticket holders will be allowed into the parking lots.
- There will be no “RV City” this year in 2020 and all ancillary event are not happening this year.
TIAA Bank Field Parking & Gates Opening Times
TIAA Bank Field stadium parking for the Georgia-Florida game will open at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, November 7th. All 88 gates at the stadium will open at 1:30 p.m. Face coverings are required while entering and inside the stadium (except when actively eating or drinking). There will be limited stadium capacity.
Concessions Inside Stadium
Payment for all concessions (including beer and wine) will be contact-less transactions (no cash will be accepted).
In the Sunshine State and neighboring Peach State, the Florida-Georgia game is always highly anticipated. But multiply the enthusiasm by ten here in northeast Florida where the game is traditionally played. It’s a huge event weekend that brings a big economic bang, as well.
Will Diehard Fans Show Up Anyway?
Will some diehard fans without Georgia-Florida tickets still come? The sojourn to Amelia Island and Jacksonville is an annual tradition for a lot of families and friend groups. For some it’s like a holiday gathering. Watching the game and festivities are a memory-making event. Some have taken this annual game trip with the same people for decades. While it’s more fun for one side — the fans and team that prevails — it’s an unforgettable experience for everyone, nevertheless.
Will groups decide to take their traditional long weekend getaway anyway? Hang out on Amelia Island and in JAX to watch the game? Or will the flow of fans this year be just a trickle, rather than the usual tidal wave?
The hard hit travel and hospitality industry could use the economic boost the big game weekend brings. Northeast Florida businesses were anticipating another boost that didn’t materialize in late August 2020, when the Republican National Convention was canceled due to July’s rising COVID-19 positive cases in Florida. Amelia Island resorts and hotels were hosting the GOP’s top donors, some events, and several delegations.
As we all know during COVID-19, changes can be fluid. Will the 2020 Georgia vs. Florida game actually kickoff as scheduled Nov. 7th? Time will tell, but fan fingers are crossed.
The Southeastern Conference’s official 10-game football schedule for fall 2020 is below, see game grid.
SEC 10-Game Official Schedule
Local High Schools Playing Football This Fall
In Fernandina Beach, the public school district’s high school football season kicks off under Friday night lights on September 4, 2020. The school district here in Nassau County, FL is limiting high school football game venue capacity to 50%. A local rivalry, the Fernandina Pirates will play on Yulee High School’s field against the Hornets.
Wishing all the high school and college football players and their families a good, healthy season of play.