JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Rick Catlett oozes confidence when you talk with him just a few minutes about landing a Bowl Championship Series game in Jacksonville by the year 2020.
Jacksonville is currently a finalist for the 2016 and 2017 games. The city is competing with Arizona (Phoenix Stadium), New Orleans, and Tampa Bay for 2016 game. In 2017, Jacksonville is competing with those cities as well as Minneapolis, San Antonio, the San Francisco Bay area and South Florida (Miami).
Jacksonville already knows college football. The city hosts the Gator Bowl Game and the Florida-Georgia game is huge. Gator Bowl Executive Director Rick Catlett said that experience will be valuable in chasing the national title game.
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One big reason he is very confident Jacksonville will land the game is because the BCS has said it wants to go to 12 different communities in 12 years, and after the obvious frontrunners like Dallas, New Orleans, Miami and Phoenix, Jacksonville is not far behind.
"But in 12 years, we are going to be one of those cities. I think once they knock out New Orleans, and they knock out Dallas, they knock out Miami and they knock out Phoenix, we are as good as any of the cities left. And more importantly than that, we have the largest stadium in that group."
A total of 84,000 seats for a college game is thousands more than anyone can offer except Dallas, and that means big money for the BCS.
"The average ticket price is going to be $350 to $500, and we are going to have ten thousand more seats. That is $3.5 million dollars more than anyone else can give them."
And Catlett said the man running the BCS title game is Michael Kelly, who ran Jacksonville's Super Bowl and is very familiar with what the city has to offer.
Justin McCoy works at SportsMania at the Landing and said a BCS title game would be huge!
"That would be amazing, that would be awesome, that would probably be the biggest sporting event that would ever happen in Jacksonville."
The thought of the big game here has Fionn MacCool's restaurant manager Paul Glaser excited.
"It would be like a couple of St. Patty's Days all wrapped up in one! It's bigger alumni, it's people that follow those schools and they come from all over the country to come to this area to see our wonderful city. The college crowd is great, it would be phenomenal."
Catlett said a decision on the 2016 and 2017 games will be announced next month.
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"Reporters said to me, 'Rick why are you chasing the NFL, you'll never get it.' Well, I may not be here with the Gator Bowl when we get a BCS game, but it is coming soon."
Catlett is confident the city has a chance to get one of the two bids awarded next month. He was on a conference call with Kelly on Tuesday, and after he hung up he said, "We've got a chance." He said that because of the questions that were being asked about Jacksonville and the positive answers the city was able to provide."
One advantage the city has is it can hold many of the special events near the stadium along the river, because the city owns the Shipyards property, the ballpark and the arena. And the fairgrounds is right there as well. Catlett said the game organizers are impressed with that.
First Coast News