- 2013 - December - 12th -

Verlander going home to Gator Bowl

By David Chapman, Staff Writer

Alan Verlander says he is coming home.

The City's sports and entertainment director submitted his resignation Tuesday and was named the chief operating officer of the events division of Gator Bowl Sports on Wednesday. The organization is a wholly owned subsidiary of the former Gator Bowl Association, a place he interned at before serving as marketing director in the mid-'90s.

"This is a unique opportunity to come home," he said.

The expanded and rebranded Gator Bowl Sports has a mission of attracting a multitude of sports and other events to Jacksonville. Verlander's job is to be the point man in charge of making the city that destination.

"Personally, I think it fits my skill set really well," Verlander said. "It puts me back in a private nature, which is one of my strengths."

He served in the City capacity since April 2012 and before that was Jacksonville University's athletic director for several years. He begins his new job Jan. 2.

Verlander said he will spend the first three months creating a strategic plan to present to the Gator Bowl Sports' board and its president, Rick Catlett, before the start of the organization's April 1 fiscal year.

At that time, a budget and staffing needs also will be established, Catlett said.

Verlander said he'll also spend those months talking to current Gator Bowl Sports partners and discussing possibilities with companies he has relationships with but currently aren't on board.

The organization has 88 sponsorship partners that can it can draw from in its recruiting efforts.

Catlett said people should not expect the events Jacksonville will attract to be just football, baseball and basketball.

"I think there is absolutely a segment of business community that doesn't care one flip about football, but they care about lacrosse, they care about soccer," he said.

But it's football that could make the biggest news the soonest. Catlett said Wednesday that the organization, likely in January, will make an announcement on a major college football neutral-site game to be played in Jacksonville.



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