After canceling its home opener last Saturday due to Hurricane Irma, the Florida football team will host Tennessee this weekend as scheduled, the SEC announced on Tuesday.
Officials from Florida, Tennessee and the SEC agreed that the game, which will be played on Saturday at 3:30 p.m., won’t be impacted by any aftereffects from the storm.
“The University of Florida has been diligent in assessing the impact of Hurricane Irma on the Gainesville community and has made a thoughtful decision in moving forward with the game,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said in a release. “We appreciate the communication, coordination and cooperation among the many agencies and groups necessary to produce a game in a safe environment.”
Florida announced last Thursday that its game against Northern Colorado was canceled due to Hurricane Irma, citing safety concerns. After the hurricane had passed through Florida, questions arose about where and if Saturday’s game against Tennessee could be played, with multiple reports pointing to a possible matchup in Atlanta.
On Tuesday, Florida Athletic Director Scott Stricklin said officials assessed the damage from the storm and determined Saturday’s game can be safely played in Gainesville.
“There has been a tremendous amount of cooperation between local authorities, the Southeastern Conference and the Tennessee athletic program throughout this process and we are grateful for these strong partnerships,” Stricklin said in a statement.
Florida added that it expects storm cleanup to continue through the weekend, and that there will likely be increased traffic for Saturday’s game. To help, University of Tennessee campus police are expected to travel to Gainesville for the game, according to reports, and UF encouraged fans to arrive to the stadium 30 minutes earlier than normal.
According to the Gainesville Sun’s Kevin Brockway, Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell supports the game being played in Gainesville and will have officers available.
In addition, Florida announced on Monday that none of its student athletes were harmed by Hurricane Irma, and there was no major damages to any of its athletic facilities.
“While we know how important it is for this campus and the Gainesville community to host a game, our thoughts and prayers continue to be with those that have been impacted by the storm, and we are thankful for the support Floridians have received during this time,” Stricklin said.
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