Gator Bowl Stadium
was a football
and soccer stadium
in Jacksonville, Florida
that was built in 1949
. It was replaced by the Jacksonville Municipal Stadium
Jacksonville's first football venue was built in 1927-1928 with a seating capacity of 7,600. Its primary purpose was to serve as home field for Jacksonville's three new high schools - Lee
& Landon. At the opening of Fairfield Stadium
, Florida Governor John W. Martin
called the stadium "the best place in Florida to watch a football game!"
On January 1, 1946, the stadium leaped into the national spotlight with the first Gator Bowl game. The future postseason college football classic was so successful, the stadium was expanded in 1948 to 16,000 seats and renamed the Gator Bowl.
College and professional sports franchises that used the stadium
It was home to the World Football League
's Jacksonville Sharks
and the Jacksonville Express
. It was the home of a North American Soccer League
team, the Jacksonville Tea Men
and then a United States Football League
team, the Jacksonville Bulls
Most notably, it was the site of the annual Gator Bowl from 1949-1993.
It also hosted the annual Georgia/Florida college football game, which has come to be called "The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party", from 1949-1993.
The Beatles at the Gator Bowl
played a concert at the Gator Bowl on their first American Tour in 1964. It is notable because once the Beatles found out that the concert was going to be segregated, they refused to play there unless they allowed the audience to be desegregated. Paul McCartney
went on record about their disapproval of the situation and their lack of understanding of segragation in the first place.
said, "We never play to segregated audiences and we aren't going to start now. I'd sooner lose out appearance money". They did end up playing to a desegregated audience.
The stadium was largely demolished in 1994
so that Jacksonville Municipal Stadium
could be built on the site. Almost none of the surrounding infrastructure remains, except for the west upper deck (which was added in 1982
) and the ramping system. While Jacksonville Municipal Stadium was being constructed, the 1994 Gator Bowl game was held at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
in Gainesville, Florida. The game resumed the following year in Jacksonville.
Gator Bowl Official website