by Mike Sharkey
This year’s Florida-Georgia Hall of Fame luncheon may be the biggest yet. It’s a milestone for the event — 10th anniversary — and there are a few special things on the agenda.
Besides inducting former Florida Gator quarterback Don Gaffney and current Athletic Director Jeremy Foley, and Cy Grant and Kevin McLee of Georgia, Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive will be on hand.
“He’s been to the game before, but never to the banquet,” said Mike Sullivan, director of the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission’s Sports & Entertainment Board.
Sullivan said Slive’s appearance at the banquet is thanks to a chance meeting earlier this year.
“I ran into him in Indianapolis at a meeting and asked him to attend,” said Sullivan. “He said he was in favor of it, but he’d have to check his schedule. When I told him we were inducting Jeremy this year, he said he’d make it work.
“It’ll be good to have him here. It will add a little prestige to the event and I hope he stays for the game.”
The Hall of Fame banquet is Oct. 28 at noon — the day before the game — in a huge tent outside Alltel Stadium. The corporate-heavy lunch is closed to the public. However, Sullivan said once the induction ceremony begins, the back of the tent will be opened up for anyone wishing to attend.
Another attraction will be comedian Jerry Farber from Atlanta. His Georgia ties may question his allegiance. Sullivan said Farber, who has performed at the luncheon before, has a Georgia skit he does, but “he will be perfectly neutral in this case.”
Another item that may make it on the agenda: the City and the two schools recently inked a contract extension that will keep the game in Jacksonville through at least 2010. The new contract also reduces the rent on Alltel the schools will pay from $50,000 annually to $1 per year and requires the City to help find a corporate sponsor for the game.
“Depending on who shows up, we may have an honorary signing of the new contract,” said Sullivan, who is expecting 400-500 to attend. “This should be the biggest of all. We have had so many requests for tickets. It has become quite a big deal.”
Ten years ago the banquet was held at the Osborn Center. As the years passed and the event grew, Sullivan and his staff moved it to the stadium. He said there has been thought to moving to one of downtown’s big hotels but he thinks many people appreciate and enjoy the atmosphere around the stadium, especially with kick off the next day.
Several Hall of Famers will be on hand including Matt Robinson and Vince Dooley of Georgia and Carlos Alvarez and others from Florida.
“We invite as many as we can, but it’s hard to track these guys down,” said Sullivan.