Let’s do a little experiment, very unscientific of course, to determine whether or not the Atlanta area is a college football town or a pro football town.
Last week I raised this issue in response to the Atlanta Falcons’ desire for a new open-air stadium to eventually replace the Georgia Dome. I wrote that while I greatly respected owner Arthur Blank and the Falcons organization, any decision regarding a future stadium must take into account the college events that are currently held at the Georgia Dome.
Specifically I was talking about the SEC championship game, the Chick-fil-A Bowl and Kickoff Classic, and the potential to host basketball events such as the NCAA Final Four, SEC and ACC tournaments. Lose the Dome (the city can’t afford to maintain two stadiums) and replace it with anything less than a facility with a retractable roof and you risk losing those events.
Then I wrote that, after all is said and done, Atlanta is a college football town. Always has been. Always will be.
Not all of you agreed.
**–“Just curious,” a gentle reader wrote. “How many SEC regular season games are played indoors?”
The answer is zero. The answer is also irrelevant. Regular season games are put on by the respective institutions. The SEC championship is put on by the conference and is a much more than just a football game. There is a lot of stuff going on with the SEC FanFare and other ancillary events. Would the SEC definitely leave Atlanta if it had to play outdoors? I can’t say that. But I can say that the fact that weather will not be a factor in the game is important to the SEC.
**–Another reader argued that Atlanta is not a college football town because Georgia Tech is not a national program and the University of Georgia way over there Athens. First of all, read your history about Georgia Tech. You’ll find that guys named Heisman, Alexander, and Dodd coached here and that the Georgia Institute of Technology is the defending ACC champions. Travel the country and you’ll find that Georgia Tech is indeed a national program.
Secondly, the next time you’re in a large gathering of people, ask everybody who attended an ACC, SEC, or Big Ten school—or calls themselves a fan of one–to raise their hands. You’ll be surprised at the number. Did you know there was a Big Ten Alumni Association in Atlanta? Did you know that on Saturdays during football season there are gatherings in this town for just about every Division I-A team you can name?
**–Consider this: Obviously the largest alumni group for every SEC school is located in that school’s home state. Last time I checked, the SECOND largest alumni group for every SEC school (except Arkansas and possibly LSU) is based in Atlanta (obviously, the largest for Georgia is here). How many Clemson, Duke, Florida State, and North Carolina alumni live in Atlanta? A bunch. All those alumni make Atlanta a college football town. I know they are here because every time I write something stupid about their team that they don’t like, I hear from them.
So here is today’s experiment: Say it was possible to choose, at random, 100,000 people in Atlanta who only identified themselves as sports fans—nothing else, just sports fans. Promise them a ticket to one of two sporting events:
**–A ticket to NFC championship game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Dallas Cowboys at the Georgia Dome. The winner goes to the Super Bowl.
**–A ticket to the SEC championship game between No. 1 Florida and No. 2 Alabama at the Georgia Dome. The winner goes to the BCS title game.
Which game would the most people choose?
Which game would you choose?
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PROGRAMMING NOTE: I will be sitting in for Brandon Adams today and Thursday on the “Brandon and Woolvey” Show on 790 The Zone from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Today we’ll be talking a lot about possible expansion and how it could impact Georgia and Georgia Tech. We also have some guest coaches in Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and North Carolina’s Butch Davis. I’m looking forward to working with Jeff Woolverton again. If you get a chance, please tune in.