After last week’s bowl game disaster, I mentioned to my wife that for those young Dogs fans who haven’t been able to afford the “buy-in” level of contribution to get season tickets, this might be the year to make the move. It seemed likely there would be more nonrenewals of season tickets than usual and the cut-off point probably will continue dropping, as it has the past couple of seasons.
You’ll recall that when everyone was all excited about Georgia being a preseason No. 1, the annual cut-off level of cumulative Hartman Fund/Bulldog Club donations necessary to become a first-time UGA football season ticket holder soared from $1,991 in 2007 to a ridiculous $10,651 for 2008. The next year, however, it dropped off to $4,205, and last year to $1,550.
It’s a good bet that figure will drop even more this year, especially considering the way athletic director Greg McGarity was talking Thursday.
In reporting that fan feedback after the poor showing in the bowl has been about 50/50, McGarity noted that “You’ve got a certain faction of fans out there that are disappointed and if they don’t have change, then they’re going to drop out of the program.”
McGarity made the pitch for such folks to reconsider. “People are going to have to make decisions on do they want to hang in there with us or do they choose to do otherwise? But the way I look at it is that individuals and people that support our program, it’s really supporting our program. I know they’re frustrated with football right now but what is so important is the contributions go into funding every sport that we sponsor. So, in essence if you have some that are pulling out of the program … then they’re basically pulling out of making a contribution that helps us in every facet of our operation.”
McGarity added, “I understand it. I do understand the frustration, and the only thing we can do is to say we’re working as hard as we can to turn this ship around and after we get it going, then I think you’ll see a lot different reaction.”
Now, I’m about certainly not happy with Mark Richt and the Georgia football program right now, but I wouldn’t even consider dropping my season tickets in protest. I’ll admit I blanched a few years ago when my minimum required contribution to keep the seats I’ve had since 1975 doubled, but I never seriously considered giving them up.
At the time a friend in the same situation pondered dropping out of the Bulldog Club and simply buying tickets from scalpers on game day, figuring he could still save money even paying a big mark-up over face value. In the end, though, he renewed his season tickets as well.
And here’s the key difference: If he had dropped out and gone the scalper route, he still would have seen the games, but he wouldn’t have been supporting the athletic program with scholarship money. Which would hurt the basketball and baseball and gymnastics and other athletic programs at UGA, as McGarity pointed out.
So here’s my question to my fellow UGA football season ticket holders: Are you considering dropping your tickets for the coming season. If so, why? And you younger fans who’ve been wanting to get season tickets: Will you be put off by the declining fortunes of Richt’s Dogs, or do you see this as a golden opportunity?
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