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- 2012 - May - 21st -

Gator Bowl will increase team payout to $7 million

by David Chapman, Staff Writer

The Gator Bowl Association will increase its total team payout to $7 million, up from $5.4 million, in an attempt to land a more financially attractive team from the Southeastern Conference for its annual game.

Rick Catlett, association executive director and CEO, told members of the Tourist Development Council Thursday during its quarterly meeting that the decision will not result in the association seeking additional funds from the council.

“When we signed the deal with the SEC, they gave us a very good financial arrangement to get us in, but we had to agree to a low selection,” he said.

“We think that if we go from $5.4 (million) to $7 million, we can move up in the pecking order in the SEC,” Catlett said after the meeting.

Catlett said the additional funds for the team payouts would derive from an increase in ticket prices, additional local business support for the association and the title sponsor.

The TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl currently pits an SEC team against a team from the Big 10 Conference. As now structured, the association has the fourth selection from the Big 10, after the Bowl Championship Series selections, and the fifth selection from the SEC, after the BCS selections.

Catlett attended the meeting for a presentation to acquire two grants totaling $500,000 for the Jan. 1, 2013, game.

A $350,000 grant, at $10 per room night generated by the visitors renting lodging for the game, was for team payout. A $150,000 grant, at $4.29 a room night, was for the national TV package.

Both were approved.

During his presentation, Catlett also discussed the association’s monitoring of the college football postseason landscape in relation to the four-team playoff, or “event” as he called it, being discussed among college presidents.

The four teams would compete in semifinal matchups with the game potentially being bid to cities.

Though not finalized, Catlett said the platform is “done” and that the association would aggressively bid to host a game in Jacksonville.

The main cities in competition to host a semifinal game are Dallas, Atlanta, Orlando and Tampa, Catlett said after the meeting.

The Duval County Tourist Development Council is the governing body that oversees the collection and distribution of the local-option tourist development tax authorized to counties by Florida Statutes. It consists of nine members appointed by the Jacksonville City Council.

Visit Jacksonville is the marketing arm of the Tourist Development Council, which meets quarterly.

In other news from the meeting:

• Visit Jacksonville has found its new president, but won’t identify the person until the organization completes its contract renewal with the Tourist Development Council.

Visit Jacksonville serves as the city’s convention and visitors bureau and is funded by bed taxes. Its contract with the Tourist Development Council expires Sept. 30.

Former president Daniel O’Byrne left the position in December. Kerri Stewart, senior vice president at Infinity Global Solutions, has been serving as interim president.

After the meeting, Stewart said the person is not local and has more than 20 years of experience in the convention and visitors bureau field.

• A $90,000 grant was approved for the Georgia-Florida Football Classic Weekend 2012. City Special Events Manager Tonisha Landry-Gaines made a brief presentation on behalf of the event. The funds will be used for marketing, advertising, banners and a Student Sideline Safety Zone. The game is Oct. 27.

• Florida’s First Coast of Golf was approved for a $135,000 grant for leisure year-round golf marketing in Northeast Florida. The amount was lowered from the requested $139,014.

• Eleven smaller grants totaling $37,860 from the Convention & Visitors Bureau grant fund was approved. A total of 5,776 room nights was guaranteed.

dchapman@baileypub.com

356-2466

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