Dawgs and Gators in JAX until 2010

ATHENS - The University of Georgia Athletic Association board of directors addressed Friday what athletic director Damon Evans called "probably the hottest topic we've had on our plate since the new administration has taken over" and extended the term of the annual Georgia-Florida game in Jacksonville.

The new contract, which the board approved unanimously with no discussion, will keep the game in the northern Florida city through 2010. The current contract runs out after the 2006 game.

"We really went over this with a fine-tooth comb," Evans said. "We're not saying we're going to stay in Jacksonville forever. We will have to look at this issue closely (at the end of this deal)."

One of the contributing factors in the re-signing of the Jacksonville deal is the favorable terms Georgia and Florida were able to work out with the city. For starters, the annual rent that both teams pay for Alltel Stadium was reduced from $50,000 to $1. (The city said it had to charge some fee for legal reasons.)

Also, the school will no longer have to pay for parking spaces, and the schools will get all the revenue if the game ever adopts a title sponsor.

"We're not looking to put a sponsor on this game, but we were looking out for the future," Evans said.

Evans estimated Georgia's fan base is split 50-50,with half favoring keeping the game in Jacksonville and half favoring either putting it on campus sites or alternating between Jacksonville and the Georgia Dome every other year.

He added that the fact the Bulldogs have lost 11 of the last 13 games in Jacksonville was the driving force for most fans who want the game moved.

"I don't know if back when we were winning, people were talking about moving out of Florida," he said.

Approval by Georgia's board was the final hurdle for the new deal, which is expected to be finalized soon. The agreement means that the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party will survive for at least six more seasons.

"The students will be happy," UGA president Michael Adams said.

In other business, the board:

-- Reviewed plans for an addition to Stegeman Coliseum, which will include practice facilities and offices for the men's and women's basketball programs and the gymnastics program and is slated to open in June 2007.

-- Addressed traffic flow concerns in Sanford Stadium but made no decisions.

-- Announced plans to hire an associate athletic director in charge of development.

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