‘Gator’ makes it back to the ‘Bowl’ in name change agreement

‘Gator’ makes it back to the ‘Bowl’ in name change agreement
JaxSports Council committee members Rich Thompson, Robert Dilts, Amanda Napolitano and John Duce with Alan Verlander, JaxSports Council, Jamie Shelton, 2018 game chairman, Rick Catlett, TaxSlayer Gator Bowl, Billy Catlin, committee member, and Josh Gaudin, TaxSlayer

College football’s sixth-oldest bowl game is getting its name back.

During a press event April 12 at bestbet Jacksonville, the Gator Bowl Sports Board of Trustees announced it will reinstitute “Gator” into the official title of Jacksonville’s bowl game. Beginning this year, the late December contest will now be known as the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl.

“I think it can only help the game,” said Josh Gaudin, TaxSlayer head of strategic partnerships. “The name has a history and it’s synonymous with the game. Calling it the Gator Bowl makes sense.”

The bowl has taken place annually since 1946 and was called the Gator Bowl until 2014 when TaxSlayer.com, an online tax preparation service based in Augusta, Georgia, became the game’s primary sponsor. Under a six-year deal reached with Gator Bowl Sports, the name was changed to TaxSlayer Bowl.

But a recent mutual agreement between the board and TaxSlayer restored “Gator” into the bowl’s moniker.

“If you grew up in Jacksonville like I did, you grew up with the Greater Jacksonville Open, Georgia-Florida and the Gator Bowl,” said Rick Catlett, CEO/president of Gator Bowl Sports. “To have TaxSlayer make this decision speaks to the history and tradition in this community and their respect for college football in general. We’ve married two great brands back together and I think it’s going to continue our major economic impact.”

Recent estimates peg that economic impact at between $14-16 million for Jacksonville and its surrounding communities. According to the Gator Bowl Sports Board of Trustees, more than $500,000 is donated annually to local charitable organizations.

“We love college football and what it means to the history of our city. TaxSlayer working with us to help preserve our heritage is nothing short of spectacular,” said Jamie Shelton, the new chairman of Gator Bowl Sports, and bestbet Jacksonville president.

In a statement, TaxSlayer CEO/President Brian Rhodes said the game “has a rich tradition and legacy in college football and we at TaxSlayer are extremely proud to be a part of such a dedicated and professional bowl family. We look forward to continuing to build on the Bowl’s historic foundation.”

The game, entering its 74th year in 2018, was played at Gator Bowl Stadium from 1946 through 1993. With renovations to the stadium under way, the 1994 game was played at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on the University of Florida campus in Gainesville. The bowl returned to its original site, now known as TIAA Bank Field (formerly Jacksonville Municipal Stadium and more recently EverBank Field), in January 1996.

This year’s game, which will once again be televised on one of the ESPN networks, will feature a team from the Southeastern Conference against an opponent from either the Big Ten Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference or the independent University of Notre Dame. An announcement about the date and time was expected in late April. In addition to Shelton’s new role presiding over all three Gator Bowl Sports entities, chairman-elect will be Rich Thompson, of The Adecco Group.

By Robert DeAngelo
Resident Community News

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