The Florida Gators are set to play the Tennessee Volunteers in a huge game in the SEC East standings.
It’s no secret that the state of Florida has been ravaged by Hurricane Irma. The eye of the storm and the powerful eyewall passed right through Gainesville with hurricane force winds. Florida and Gainesville residents will spend the next several weeks, or longer in some spots, trying to recover from the destruction.
The University needs to make the decision to move this week’s football game despite the obvious urge to keep it in the Swamp.
Over six million Florida residents were ordered to evacuate last week prior to Irma’s arrival. More than ten million homes lost power during the storm according to several news outlets including USA Today. Floods are rampant across the state including Jacksonville and across North Central Florida.
Many people will attempt to get home in the coming days, from all over. But they will find empty gas stations throughout the state, including here in Gainesville.
All of that doesn’t even take into account where local and state law enforcement will need to focus their attention, which is not on a football game.
Florida State, Miami, UCF, and FIU have all cancelled their games this weekend. USF is in talks to play at Illinois instead of in Tampa. Florida needs to follow suit.
Then where to?
Atlanta has offered to host the game if it is unable to be played at UF. The Atlanta United Soccer Club plays at the new Mercedez-Benz Stadium at 4:00 PM, but Georgia State Stadium is available.
The Georgia State Panthers will be away at Penn State this weekend leaving GSU Stadium as a potential destination. Georgia State Stadium is formerly Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves. The state renovated the field and turned it into a state of the art football facility.
There are obviously other options, but Atlanta makes a lot of sense for both teams.
The University of Florida doesn’t want to lose a second home game because of weather. Understandably so. I don’t want to miss another opportunity to watch football at the Swamp myself. But I also wonder about the thousands upon thousands of fans who travel to Gainesville for home games each week. People who will return home not knowing if their house will even be there. The same people may not be able to get gas for the ride. There are things more important than a football game.
It’s unfair for the University to subject those people to a football game. The best option is to move it.
Besides, we saw last year that Florida comes up clutch in games that are moved because of weather issues.