A tradition has been restored in Jacksonville, Florida. As reported by The Sporting News and other media outlets, The TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla., will be known as the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl beginning with the 2018 game, it was announced Thursday.
The Gator Bowl Sports Board of Trustees announced today the annual Jacksonville college football bowl game played at EverBank Field will reinstitute “Gator” into its name, becoming:
“TaxSlayer Gator Bowl”
The new name and logo were created to honor the longstanding tradition of this bowl. The event was founded in Jacksonville in 1946 as the Gator Bowl. Now in its 74th year, it is one of the longest-continually-held college bowl games in the U.S. and was the first ever nationally televised bowl. TaxSlayer, a leading online and professional tax and financial technology company, bought the exclusive naming rights to the event in 2014, and remains the title sponsor.
“The TaxSlayer Gator Bowl 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,” said TaxSlayer President and Chief Executive Officer Brian Rhodes.
It was also announced that this year’s TaxSlayer Gator Bowl will be televised on the ESPN family of networks. There is no time or date set for the bowl yet, but officials said the game will feature a team from the Southeastern Conference against a team from the Big Ten, ACC or the University of Notre Dame.
Last year, Mississippi State played Louisville. In 2016, Georgia Tech and Kentucky met at EverBank Field.
The Gator Bowl, officially the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl for sponsorship purposes, is an annual college football bowl game played at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. Originally named the Gator Bowl, it has been held continuously since 1946, making it the sixth oldest college bowl, as well as the first one ever televised nationally. TaxSlayer.com became the title sponsor in 2011.
According to writer Anthony C. DiMarco, Charles Hilty, Sr. first conceived of the event. Hilty, together with Ray McCarthy, Maurice Cherry, and W. C. Ivey, put up $10,000 to underwrite the first game, which was held at Jacksonville’s football stadium, Fairfield Stadium, on January 1, 1946. The first two years of the event did not sell out the small capacity stadium, drawing only 7,362 to the 1946 match when the Wake Forest Demon Deacons defeated the South Carolina Gamecocks, 26–14. The stadium was expanded in 1948 and renamed the Gator Bowl Stadium in honor of the event. However, it was not until the 1949 match-up between the Clemson Tigers and the Missouri Tigers that the future of the Gator Bowl was assured. The 1948 attendance of 16,666 for a 20–20 tie between Maryland and Georgia, was nearly doubled with 32,939 watching Clemson squeak by Missouri, 24–23, on a late field goal by Jack Miller. By the 1970s, the attendance regularly reached 60,000–70,000.
EverBank Field is now home to the Jacksonville Jaguars, but previous to the NFL franchise in 1995, the stadium was most known for hosting the annual Florida-Georgia game, which remains one of the biggest rivalries in college football.
“It is rare to find sponsoring companies that share the same values and goals, and we are fortunate to have found such a partner in TaxSlayer. Together, TaxSlayer and the Gator Bowl Sports Board of Trustees will enable the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl game to maintain its stature on the national level as one of the top tier bowl games in the country,” said Rick Catlett, Bowl President and Chief Executive Officer.