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Gator Bowl Stadium

Gator Bowl Stadium

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.

Origins

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, Jackson & 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 in 1974 and the Jacksonville Express in 1975. It was the home of a North American Soccer League team, the Jacksonville Tea Men from 1981-1982 and then a United States Football League team, the Jacksonville Bulls from 1984-1985.

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

The Beatles 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. John Lennon 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.

Demolition

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.

References

External links

Gator Bowl Official website

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