Time to answer some Junkyard Mail …
Heath Schoenfeld of Vero Beach, Fla., writes: Hey Bill, I’ve gone and done it. I have season tickets for the first time! I live in South Florida and I’ve been to a couple of games here and there since 1997, but now I’ve got 4 seats for each home game and I can’t wait. What would be the best game day routine for my family? Where should we be for the Dawg Walk, when should we get into the stadium, etc.? I am doing my best to make sure my 4-year-old twin sons are Dawgs. You see, my wife and her family are Gators. She went to UF, her sisters when to UF, her parents have season tickets, etc. But at least she’s pretty! Thanks for the great work.
Congratulations, Heath! And kudos for your determination not to let their mother’s blue-and-orange past scar your boys for life.
I don’t know whether you plan on staying in one of the hotels in downtown Athens, but if you do you can simply walk to the game. If not, parking is your first challenge. Most of the free public parking is available on East Campus around the Ramsey Center, off College Station Road. Shuttle bus service is provided from the Ramsey Center. UGA also offers paid parking at various decks and you can even buy a season pass for that. (They’ll go on sale “sometime in July” and while the price hasn’t been set yet, in the past it’s been $20 per game. You can contact Brenda Burke at 706-542-7305 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.)
There are several paid lots downtown and even a couple that offer tailgating options, and there are quite a few churches and schools along Lumpkin Street and Milledge Avenue that also sell parking by the season or by the game, with the rates ranging generally from $15 to $25 per game. Don’t plan on parking for free in the residential neighborhoods nearest to campus; you’ll get towed. And parking on campus sidewalks and grassy areas also will get you towed.
If you want to tailgate, the restrictions are pretty tight on the old North Campus quads (though they’ve been loosened a bit from last year), but you’re free to go whole-hog anywhere else. But you can’t set up until five hours before kickoff. Most of the younger tailgaters seem to be congregating in the Myers Hall quadrangle these days.
If you don’t want to tailgate, you can eat downtown or grab a burger or hot dog from the tent outside the UGA Bookstore if you don’t want to stand in long lines in the Tate Center cafe. Or you can wait to eat inside the stadium, which usually opens two hours before game time. The new Reed Plaza area offers lots of fast-food options, though the quality is pretty variable.
The Dawg Walk, which I think your kids will really enjoy (probably more so in a couple of years) also is usually around two hours before kickoff (though sometimes the team buses run a bit late). It gets kind of crowded down in the Tate Center parking lot off Lumpkin where the team enters, so if you want a really close-up view you better get there early. There are good vantage points from the Sanford Drive bridge, but again you have to get there early to get a spot where your boys will be able to see. You can also watch from up above on the outdoor plaza area of the new Tate II addition or the parking deck.
If you don’t want to enter the stadium immediately after the Dawg Walk, you can kill some time (and enjoy the air conditioning) watching football on the big screen in the Tate Center movie theater. It’s likely to really be hot as you await that 4:30 kickoff against the Gamecocks, so you might want to get the kids out of the sun until it’s time to go into the stadium.
I like to be at my seat in Sanford by about an hour before kickoff to watch the warm-ups and cheer the players as they walk toward the end zone while the Redcoats play the “Krypton Fanfare.” It’s a goosebump moment for many fans. You definitely want to be seated by at least 15 minutes before kickoff so you don’t miss the Larry Munson video on the scoreboard screen.
As for after the game, don’t be in a hurry to go anywhere (especially if it was a close one and everyone stayed until the end). When my son was young and we parked downtown, I always made a point of taking him by the Chapel to ring the bell. I think your boys would really get a kick out of that.
Game Saturdays in Athens are a lot of fun. Glad to know you’ll be among the 92,746 luckiest folks around come fall!
Anyone have any other game day tips for Heath?
Raildawg writes: Were you surprised Mark Richt didn’t sign on to Steve Spurrier’s proposal for the head coaches to share some of their wealth with their players? Considering how charitable he is, I thought he’d have been first in line to back a plan to provide money for his players.
No, I wasn’t really. I don’t know what Steve Spurrier’s true motivation was in launching that trial balloon. Maybe he really thinks the coaches paying the players $300 a game out of their own pockets is a good idea. Or perhaps he just wanted a bit of media spotlight or was looking to divert attention away from his giving Stephen Garcia his umpteenth second chance.
But the fact is it wasn’t a realistic proposal and I’m glad Mark Richt didn’t allow himself to be coerced by Spurrier into putting his name on a flashy idea that might have some appeal to the kids but was seriously flawed.
Georgia’s head coach did a pretty good job of explaining in a press release yesterday. “I am all for providing more financial help for our players,” he said. “I’d even go so far as to say I’d be willing to help fund it if there is a way that’s possible. I just don’t believe Coach Spurrier’s idea is feasible. If we’re going to do something like this, we have to do it for all 125 guys, not just 70. That would create all sorts of morale and chemistry problems. Doesn’t everyone practice? Can you imagine trying to decide a dress list knowing that you’d be cutting out 55 guys who are working just as hard every day? Also, if we do this for football, I believe you have to do it for every sport across the board at every level of the NCAA. This is much bigger than SEC football. I’d prefer spending time talking about ideas that have a legitimate chance of becoming reality.”
Well said, coach.
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