A look back on the impact of Super Bowl 39 in Jacksonville

Chase Gunnell

Photo by Mark Judson.

With Super Bowl 53 coming up this Sunday we take look back to Super Bowl 39 when the game took place right here in Jacksonville.

On February 6 2005, the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles met in the then named “Alltel Stadium” to decide the winner of the Super Bowl. The Patriots defeated the Eagles 24-21 in this game but the final result is not the part that affected the city. The Super Bowl becomes a week-long event that affects an entire city when it takes place there. From the very first day,“Opening Night”, has become a spectacle of its own allowing media to talk to players and coaches for the first time in the week. For the entire week leading up to the Super Bowl, there is a fan experience set up near the stadium that has shops, games, and immersive NFL experiences for the fans. This brings people that would not normally venture downtown or near the stadium to the heart of Jacksonville to experience the city.

The most impactful part of having the Super Bowl in Jacksonville is the week-long national media coverage that happens because of the event. Not only the clips and videos of the city people see on television, but the experience that the hundreds of media members have when they travel to the city. Almost every sports media outlet in the country travels to the location of the Super Bowl for a few days or even the entire week. Television sets are based in the city with backdrops of the city and the river. Radio crews and sets are placed in the city to do their daily and weekly broadcast from the city. Thousands of people flock to the city to experience the Super Bowl and in turn experience the magic of Jacksonville. So many people traveled to Jacksonville for the Super Bowl that the city had to bring in cruise ships because every hotel in the downtown and surrounding areas were completely booked up. In order to house people close to the stadium, cruise ships were brought to and docked downtown for the week to give more places to stay for people visiting the city for the Super Bowl.

The impacts directly on UNF were surprisingly small. This being said, it was significant that the Philadelphia Eagles practiced at the UNF soccer complex. Not only did a team playing at the Super Bowl practice at a UNF field, they also used the athletic facilities to weight lift and train throughout the week. Ken Hill, who is currently an Academic Advisor for the Sports Management department, recalls the Eagles practicing at UNF and that there was not much impact on the rest of the school. He was working in Alumni Services at the time and does not recall noticing anything out of the ordinary that week other than the plastic covers over the fences at the field to hide the Eagles practices. According to Hill, the only significant impact the Eagles practicing there had was field renovations. The field had drastic drainage issues and the NFL redid the soccer field in order to make it suitable for the Eagles to practice there. The University simply had to plant a number of trees at certain place on campus in return for the NFL redoing the field.

Overall, the Super Bowl in Jacksonville attracted many newcomers to Duval County and helped put a spotlight on the River City. 

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