Georgia and Florida would have expanded opportunities to market their annual football game, including the right to sell the name of the game to a corporate sponsor, under terms of a contract still being hammered out with the city of Jacksonville.
The schools decided last fall to keep the game in Jacksonville through 2016, and a formal contract has been in the works for months. Although it hasn’t been finalized, the most recent draft of a proposed contract was obtained today by the AJC under Georgia’s Open Records Act.
One reason the contract has taken so long to complete is that it covers a wide range of potential marketing rights not addressed in previous deals between the schools and Jacksonville.
According to the latest draft, dated May 21, the schools “shall exclusively own and control all worldwide rights for promotion, marketing, sponsorships, merchandising and ancillary events . . . including without limitation the rights to enter into a title sponsorship agreement for each … game.”
Georgia associate athletics director of external operations Alan Thomas said this morning that the schools don’t currently have any plans to sell naming rights to the game, but wanted their control of the issue clearly stated in such a long-term contract.
“It would be an option, but not an option we have explored at all in my six years here,” Thomas said. “But if that comes up, we want the ability for the schools to control that. . . . Because it’s mentioned [in the contract] doesn’t mean it’s being contemplated or negotiated.”
The previous deal between the schools and Jacksonville covers this year’s game, but the new contract, when signed, would replace the final year of the old deal and run six additional seasons. Georgia executive associate athletics director Frank Crumley expects the contract to be signed this summer. “We’re moving along very nicely,” he said recently. “We’ve got every hurdle worked out.”
The 45-page draft contains many provisions previously reported about the proposed deal, including Jacksonville’s offer to pay for the cost to fly Georgia’s team directly from Athens to St. Augustine on the day before the game and from Jacksonville to Athens afterward. Georgia athletics director Damon Evans had pushed for that provision in an attempt to level the logistical playing field.
According to the latest draft, Jacksonville would reimburse UGA for the cost of travel on three 50-passenger jets, up to a maximum of $300,000 this year and increasing 10 percent each year thereafter. That payment is in addition to $50,000 Jacksonville would pay each school to offset costs of lodging, meals and buses.
The draft also stipulates that the Greater Jacksonville Agricultural Fair cannot be held the same weekend as the game. Both were held on the same weekend in 2008, creating traffic and parking problems.
The Georgia-Florida game has been played in Jacksonville all but two years since 1933, and the city, according to the contract draft, would have “a right of first negotiation” to attempt to keep the game beyond 2016.