Gator Bowl Stadium

Gator Bowl Stadium was an American football and soccer stadium in Jacksonville, Florida that was built in 1927. It was radically reconstructed and became Jacksonville Municipal Stadium, now EverBank Field, in 1994. It is most notable for hosting the football bowl game of the same name.

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 received national attention when it hosted the first Gator Bowl game. The stadium was expanded to 16,000 seats in 1948, and the structure was renamed the Gator Bowl Stadium. Prior to the 1949 game, the seating capacity was expanded to 36,058, at which it remained until 1957.

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 to 1982 and then a United States Football League team, the Jacksonville Bulls from 1984 to 1985. Most notably, it was the site of the annual college football Gator Bowl from 1949 to 1993. It also hosted the annual Georgia/ Florida college football game, which was called " The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party". The Gator Bowl hosted the 1968 and 1969 AFL All-Star Games.

The Beatles at the Gator Bowl
The Beatles played a concert at the Gator Bowl on their first American Tour on September 11, 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 segregation 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. The concert was also notable because it was held the day after Hurricane Dora struck St. Augustine and Jacksonville. Most of Jacksonville was without electricity and power was not restored for several days. Despite the hurricane, 23,000 fans attended, paying $4 and $5 for tickets. During the concert, Ringo Starr's drums were nailed to the stage because of 45 mph winds.

Near-total demolition
The historic structure was almost entirely razed in 1994, as part of a massive remodeling effort which essentially built a new stadium. The new stadium was re-christened Jacksonville Municipal Stadium (known as Alltel Stadium from 1997 through 2006, and EverBank Field since August 2010). Almost none of the original 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 Florida”“Georgia game alternated between the two schools' home stadiums, with Florida's Florida Field hosting in 1994 and Georgia's Sanford Stadium hosting in 1995. Florida Field also hosted the 1994 Gator Bowl. The game resumed the following year in Jacksonville.
 

Building Activity

  • padesign
    padesign updated a digital reference
    about 6 years ago via OpenBuildings.com
  • Georgi Sokolov
    Georgi Sokolov updated
    about 6 years ago via OpenBuildings.com
  • Galley Ghost
    Galley Ghost updated a digital reference
    about 6 years ago via OpenBuildings.com