ORLANDO, Fla., Nov. 18, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- The Florida Classic Consortium announced its roster of community partners ahead of the 2021 event. Anchored by returning partners Florida Blue and McDonald's, the partnerships for college football's preeminent HBCU rivalry have set the stage for its return following a one-year hiatus. Florida A&M University and Bethune-Cookman University square off for the 41st time in Florida Blue Florida Classic history and the first time as Southwest Athletic Conference members on Saturday, Nov. 20.
Florida Blue, the state's Blue Cross Blue Shield plan, returns for its 11th year as the Florida Classic title partner that includes sponsorship of the annual Kickoff Luncheon and Battle of the Bands events during Florida Classic weekend. When FAMU and B-CU opted out of competition in Fall 2020 due to the pandemic, Florida Blue remained the sponsor of "Virtual Florida Classic" events to continue its support of both universities.
Florida Blue is proud to have several initiatives with Florida's HBCUs, including aligning with FAMU and B-CU to strengthen and expand curricula and student learning opportunities. Florida Blue's goal is to build and support a more diverse and inclusive talent pipeline for hard-to-fill business, finance and health care roles to help facilitate health equity and social mobility amongst underserved communities.
The company also has a robust HBCU internship program that includes a rotating management training program that continues post-graduation upon joining the organization's workforce.
"The Florida Blue Florida Classic is a mainstay event that celebrates exciting football and the academic distinction of these two great educational institutions," said Tony Jenkins Central Florida market president for Florida Blue. "HBCUs have a legacy of being a vital part of society that serve as a pathway of upward mobility and prosperity for graduates as they go out into their communities and make lasting impacts and contributions, and Florida Blue is proud of our ongoing support of these institutions."
One of the Florida Blue Florida Classic's iconic traditions comes at intermission when Florida A&M's Marching 100 and Bethune-Cookman's Marching Wildcats highlight the McDonald's Halftime Show.
McDonald's has a long tradition of supporting HBCUs and enriching the student and alumni experience through scholarships and impactful partnerships. Through their support of the Florida Classic, they strive to shine a light on Black excellence and elevate HBCU students in their pursuit to achieve.
"McDonald's is honored to once again sponsor this year's Florida Classic," said Clint Gulley, Florida McDonald's Owner/Operator. "Through our Black & Positively Golden Movement, we are committed to feeding, fostering and celebrating the Black community, and this is underscored by our dedication to supporting HBCUs. We are proud to continue this tradition by supporting one of the largest HBCU Classic in the nation."
Joining Florida Blue and McDonald's as returning partners are the U.S Army, Ford, Tobacco Free Florida, Fifth Third Bank, the Florida Lottery, the Florida Department of Health, the City of Orlando and Orange County. New partners for 2021 include Visit Orlando, Pepsi, Academy Sports & Outdoors, the U.S. Air Force, Jack Daniel's and the AEA Foundation.
The 2021 Florida Blue Florida Classic will kick off at 3:30 p.m. E.T. on Saturday, Nov. 20, at Camping World Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN3. Tickets are available now on Ticketmaster.
In addition to gameday, the 2021 Florida Blue Florida Classic weekend will also feature a variety of events, including the Florida Classic Consortium Kickoff Luncheon presented by Florida Blue (Nov. 19, noon) and the popular Florida Blue Battle of the Bands at Amway Center (Nov. 19, 7 p.m.).
On the field, this year's game will be the 41st Wildcats-Rattlers matchup to be played under the "Florida Classic" title and marks the 75th overall meeting between the schools. B-CU enters 2021 with nine consecutive wins over the Rattlers. However, Florida A&M leads the all-time series 49-24-1. The teams did not compete in 2020, but Bethune-Cookman won the 2019 edition 31-27 in front of an announced crowd of 55,730.
Overall, more than 1.3 million fans have attended the Florida Blue Florida Classic since the game made Orlando its permanent home in 1997 — an average of nearly 60,000 spectators annually. The Classic also holds the Camping World Stadium football attendance record (73,358), set in 2003.
Additional information regarding the 2021 Florida Blue Florida Classic is available at FloridaClassic.org.
About Florida Citrus Sports
Florida Citrus Sports is a not-for-profit event management organization dedicated to positively impacting the Orlando region while enhancing the quality of life in Central Florida through world-class events, including the Vrbo Citrus Bowl, the Cheez-It Bowl, the Florida Blue Florida Classic, the Florida Cup and the Camping World Kickoff. For more information, visit FloridaCitrusSports.com.
About McDonald's USA
McDonald's serves a variety of menu options made with quality ingredients to more than 25 million customers every day. Ninety-five percent of McDonald's 14,000 U.S. restaurants are independently owned and operated by businessmen and women. For more information, visit www.mcdonalds.com, or follow us on Instagram at @WeAreGolden and Facebook www.facebook.com/mcdonalds. To learn more about the Black & Positively Golden initiative, visit www.mcdonalds.com.
About Florida Blue
Florida Blue, Florida's Blue Cross and Blue Shield company, has been providing health insurance to residents of Florida for more than 75 years. Driven by its mission of helping people and communities achieve better health, the company serves more than 5 million health care members across the state. In total, Florida Blue and its affiliated companies serve more than 28 million people in 45 states. Headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla., it is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
CONTACT: Sam Gardner (Florida Citrus Sports)
407.423.2476 ext. 117, [email protected]
SOURCE Florida Blue Florida Classic