What could make game day in Athens even better?

game day redcoatsJust a little over a week from now a large segment of the Bulldog Nation will reconvene in Athens to cheer the Dawgs on Between the Hedges. It’s a time of year when optimism runs high and fans eagerly look forward to the tailgating, Dawg Walk, ringing the chapel bell and all the other traditions that make up game day at UGA.

It’s hard to beat a fall day in the Classic City watching SEC football. As my friend Steve put it this week: “How do you improve what’s already the greatest place and college stadium in America?”

Other devotees of the red and black think there’s room for improvement and that UGA perhaps ought to be looking at what some of its SEC neighbors are doing to improve the game day experience for their fans.

They’ve noted that Auburn is adding wireless internet access in the stadium and will allow fans to bring in tablets or even laptops. AU is also doing stadium tours on Friday nights and even experimenting with serving dinner on the field to donors and eventually perhaps the general public.

Meanwhile, Bama is releasing an app that allows fans to see real-time stats. And Tennessee is instituting various fan-friendly improvements, including more flat-screen TVs around the stadium showing what’s on the Jumbotron, for when you’re away from your seat.

I asked Claude Felton, UGA’s longtime sports communications director, if there was anything new for UGA fans this season.

The main thing, he said, is that “while there are some guidelines, fans will now be able to bring trailers, cookers, etc. on campus from a tailgating standpoint.”

Of course, if the cooker or trailer takes up another parking space in a university-controlled lot in addition to the one your vehicle is in, you’ll have to pay for a second parking permit.

There’s also been some renovation inside Gate 10 (the main gate under the bridge where the team enters from the Dawg Walk), with new graphics highlighting the football team as well the 1996 Olympics torch that resides in the stadium.

Felton said there are also a couple of other things in the works that may be announced sometime in the next week.

Those are pretty modest changes, though the relaxing of the restriction on pull-behind cookers is likely to be very popular with the tailgaters who have griped about all the rules instituted a couple of years ago.

Still, there are other changes fans would like to see. One, of course, is fixing the student ticketing situation so there aren’t several thousand embarrassing empty seats in that section for most games.

This year, the 5,000 freshmen have been given higher priority in the allotment of the 18,000 student tickets in hopes they’ll be more enthusiastic about showing up for games (my daughter Olivia is excited she got tickets to all seven home games!), but I frankly don’t think that problem is going to be fixed until the athletic association bites the bullet and goes back to paper tickets, despite the fact they frequently will be resold.

Back when students could sell their tickets, young alums just out of UGA who can’t yet afford season tickets were frequently the buyers, and that’s a constituency UGA needs to give higher consideration.

Speaking of young alums, my son tells me that among their major complaints about game day is cellphone reception, which is usually pretty bad in the stadium, probably because the network is overloaded. So anything to address that would be appreciated.

Also mentioned is the idea of having a “team song” play on the P.A. system (a la the Soulja Boy number in 2007) that gets the players and stadium really excited. “Traditionalists won’t like it,” young Bill noted, “but it was pretty electric in 2007 when the whole place was into it and the team was jacked. The game is played by 18-22 year olds, so I think it’s alright to play something that gets them excited. Doesn’t hurt with recruits, either.”

Concession stands in Reed Plaza are an improvement over the older ones in the stadium. (University of Georgia)

Concession stands in Reed Plaza are an improvement over the older ones in the stadium. (University of Georgia)

In the Junkyard Mail I also got some suggestions for improving game day in Athens from a slightly older fan, 48-year-old Michael Scharff, who’s been going to home games in Athens since he was 5 years old.

Among the tweaks he’d like to see is a better shuttle system from the remote parking lots, better housekeeping in the restrooms, and more and better porta-potties. “There are now not enough porta-potties, and the ones they have are hot and smelly,” he said, adding that it’s not much better inside the stadium. “Having been to most other stadiums in the conference, I can honestly say that we still have terrible concession stands and restroom facilities.”

Of course, that’s not a problem in the entire stadium, as the concession stands and restrooms in the Reed Plaza area behind the north stands are pretty nice, as stadium facilities go.

Scharff isn’t alone in his complaints about the Sanford concessions and restrooms, though. I put the question about what could be improved on game days at Sanford Stadium to readers of the Blawg’s Facebook page this summer, and the state of the restrooms came up a few times. As Blake Halberg put it: “The men’s restrooms are a disgrace!”

Other suggestions were aimed more at getting the team and fans fired up. Mark Symms, aka “Cuz,” made the not-really-serious suggestion that the field have black turf with red end zones, and Mary E. Justice wants fans to show up earlier and stay on their feet. She added: “Our student section needs to be vocal.”

Jim Mansour said that UGA and the city of Athens “need to act as if they actually want fans in Athens and on campus, instead of acting like they want our $$$.” He also thinks more police officers should be deployed “helping traffic get out after games … if Auburn can figure out its game day traffic, why can’t UGA?”

What are your thoughts on game day in Athens? What parts do you like best? And what improvements would you like to see made?

Got something you want to discuss concerning UGA athletics or a question for the Junkyard Blawg? Send it to junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

144 comments Add your comment

Cuz

August 24th, 2012
10:35 am

Bryan G.

August 24th, 2012
10:37 am

A better home schedule than we have this year. And more places to tailgate.

hirejongruden

August 24th, 2012
10:38 am

Hire a football coach who puts football first.

Bryan G.

August 24th, 2012
10:41 am

Oh…and refuse to play any games before, say, 3:30.

Anna

August 24th, 2012
10:41 am

I agree with the students being able to sell student tickets again…as a relatively young alum (2004), it will be years before my husband and I can afford season tickets, so our game opportunities are limited!!

SSIgator

August 24th, 2012
10:44 am

” It’s a time of year when optimism runs high”
___________________

It’s called: UGA Pre-Season National Champions

gomdawg

August 24th, 2012
10:47 am

COOL WEATHER AND A DAWG WIN !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

harold

August 24th, 2012
10:47 am

Richt has to win A National Championship Championship.

Cuz

August 24th, 2012
10:48 am

Of course optimism runs high. We are all undefeated.

Okay the black field may be too hot during the September games. Do it for the November games.

Al

August 24th, 2012
10:51 am

Black turf is about the dumbest idea I have heard. Enough with the gimmicks. Just play football

gbal

August 24th, 2012
10:53 am

Eliminate assigned parking. Back in the day (70’s) large groups could get to a lot and tailgate together. Assigned parking ruined the tailgating experience in my opinion. Love the dawwgs but this is when most of my crowd slacked off in attending games.

claytondawg

August 24th, 2012
10:55 am

Cuz is right: WIN. “Win and they will come.” But, let me add something else…concerning the “cupcakes” : Take off at least one of those cupcakes and add a major power (even if it’s a home-home schedule). That in itself will add tremendous interest locally, regionally, and nationally.

gbal

August 24th, 2012
10:55 am

It was first come first serve everywhere!

Richard

August 24th, 2012
10:58 am

Adding concession ordering from your cell phone like they have at basketball games. Lines are huge around gate 6. The express lane that lets you order and pay from your phone would speed things up.

kingdaddy

August 24th, 2012
10:59 am

No gimmicks…

jablonski

August 24th, 2012
10:59 am

SSI Gator = LAME TROLL
You should focus more on your team and how bad they will be this year. I have read the practice notes, and it doesnt look good for you.

Get a life loser.

Fridawg

August 24th, 2012
11:00 am

Concessions are a complete mess. I think that is due in large part to having the volunteer groups running concessions. You miss about half a quarter if you go there in the game. I’m sure there is a way to streamline the process and get people served quickly. I just try to bring cash and get drinks from the vendors in the aisles. Maybe they could carry a greater variety (boiled peanuts, hot dogs, etc…)

Otto

August 24th, 2012
11:01 am

The student section needs to be at one end zone low in the stadium not split betwen the bridge end and near the band. My choice would be over the locker rooms. I like the idea of giving out paper tickets, even if sold. UT has a larger area where students can buy tickets as well as young alums, 3 game packages etc. They are the fans that will be loud. It’d be nice to have one end of the stadium other teams didn’t want to be in.

More freedom on tailgating would be nice, along with the dumpsters to clean it up.

The band could play more fun classic rock, 80s etc.

A better schedule, I like the model of 1 big OOC game even if it is a home and home deal where the big OOC game is away on some years.

Anthony

August 24th, 2012
11:05 am

Win another SEC East Championship!!!

And… Route the post-game traffic through mandatory one-way corridors that allow fans to get out of Athens safely and expeditiously. I park in the North Hull lot and it took me 90 minutes last season to get to 316 after a couple of games.

UGA Insider

August 24th, 2012
11:07 am

As Joe Biden said……. Unchaaaaiiiiin us!!

Let us park and tailgate where we damn well want. Adams azz is so tight he craps coal.

Frank Lane

August 24th, 2012
11:16 am

We should make use of “It’s time to let the DAWGS out,” which is a spectacular fire up people song.

Bulldawg fan in the 'Stan

August 24th, 2012
11:19 am

How about they just start selling student tickets on an individual game basis. You have to camp out to get tickets on Fridays and sell the tickets until 4 hour before the game, if there are any left, they are sold on a first come, first serve basis. Kinda makes sense to me.

Triple Lindy

August 24th, 2012
11:24 am

I’d like to see responsible fans who don’t trash the place.

Saldiven

August 24th, 2012
11:26 am

Anyone who feels the need to bring a tablet or laptop with internet connectivity to a stadium for a football game really just needs to stay home and watch it on TV. Obviously, for those people, the game taking place on the field isn’t their first priority.

Saldiven

August 24th, 2012
11:28 am

@UGA Insider: I have to wonder if you actually attended class at UGA. I was there from 1990 to 1995. I hated home football game days because of the absurd behavior of the tailgaters. They blocked all the side walks, left piles of trash everywhere, and were loud and obnoxious right under dormitory windows starting at 9:00 AM. I personally believe that one of the best things UGA ever did was start clamping down on the rude, inconsiderate, and obnoxious behavior of the pre-game tailgating crowds.

Frank Lane

August 24th, 2012
11:46 am

“Let the DAWGS out” during team warm-up. Fire up our fans and intimidate the other team and its fans.

Justin

August 24th, 2012
11:52 am

I think they should close a good bit of downtown to vechiles. Make it a huge block party. Let people walk around with open continers in this contolled downtown. The bars can set up like they do for Twilight and there will be more money for everyone. This would also add to the fun.

HUH?????

August 24th, 2012
11:52 am

“What could make game day in Athens even better?

1: A tour of the Clarke Co jail to see where UGA players of the future will end up.

2: A statue of red panties on the site where Damon Evans was arrested.

3: That German professor in drag.

daddo

August 24th, 2012
12:03 pm

Beat a ranked team. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…..

evillurks

August 24th, 2012
12:04 pm

First thing yall can do to make it better is to quit copying everyone else’s traditions (i.e. “mutt walk” stolen from Auburn’s Tiger Walk) and your fanbase actually learning your stupid school fight song (here’s a hint, it ain’t glory glory to old thuga).

Get some real tradition then you can hope to improve.

Dave

August 24th, 2012
12:09 pm

I like the idea of the Smart Phone app that enables us to see the game stats during the game. I never thought of that, but it would be GREAT! If the Barn can do it, why not us?

Dawg Haus

August 24th, 2012
12:15 pm

I like Auburn’s idea about Friday stadium tours, but bringing a laptop to the stadium? If you feel the need to check your email during a game, just stay home and watch it.

obama SIN LADEN

August 24th, 2012
12:25 pm

ATOMIC DOG !!! ATOMIC DOG!!! along with WHO LET THE DOGS OUT. Why these aren’t a staple I’ll never understand. This is cool ,old school music that gets everyones feet moving!!

obama SIN LADEN

August 24th, 2012
12:26 pm

Didn’t vd do the dog walk?

Joe

August 24th, 2012
12:28 pm

The pre game events should be more exciting and the videos should be changed each game and each year. The same thing over and over is boring. The trumpet solo just does not do anything for many of the fans. The boring repeated pregame presentations may be the reason some fans and students do not show up until kickoff or after. Some things are just not working. We need something that gets the players and fans going early in the game. That has a lot to do with the coaches and players. A good example was the Auburn game last year.

PMC

August 24th, 2012
12:35 pm

Smokewagon

August 24th, 2012
12:37 pm

Trade in your old and tired fanbase. Last couple of games that I have attended were like sitting in the preacher’s living room. When cheering on my Dawgs I was given strange looks like you are not supposed to do that in sacred Sanford stadium. No emotion whatsoever from the fans. Definitely not at 12 th man in Sanford.

UGA-Daddy

August 24th, 2012
12:38 pm

Love the stadium tours and app ideas. Also, better reception or wi-fi would be great. I love being able to check stats and what the bloggers/reporters are tweeting during the game, which is very difficult in the stadium. I’d also like to see our pre-game fanfare increased.

Sometimes I felt that there was no energy in the stadium leading up to kickoff last year. I like what the Redcoats did by telling people about the new/old tradition that will be sung before each home game (http://youtu.be/JzJ5V3UZ9YY). Also, it’s embarrassing when not everyone is into it and half of the students seats aren’t being used. That needs to be fixed ASAP.

Love the blawg. Thanks, Bill!

Overrated Dogs

August 24th, 2012
12:44 pm

If it were held outside of tht dive.

mad~catfish

August 24th, 2012
12:54 pm

the shuttles are horrible.. i remember a few years back they were not running the buses while they were parked ( saving gas ) so after the game the packed as many in as usual..then made us just sit there till the players were gone.. now it was sept 1st in ga and still 90 degrees… i almost passed out

mad~catfish

August 24th, 2012
12:56 pm

i always park at ramsey and usually have no issues at all with parking or tailgating for that matter…i agree that bathrooms could be better…i could do with out hearing teenage wasteland ever again..never really got where that fit in….and for god’s sake i know our hero munson is gone but if they take his montage down or try to replace it with some scott howard crap i swear to god i will riot!

No Bozos

August 24th, 2012
12:58 pm

yellow hammer

August 24th, 2012
12:58 pm

UGA could invite the HONEY BOO BOO child as honorary mascot for a day. seeing how shes a georgia girl

Top Dawg

August 24th, 2012
1:02 pm

Very frustrating when having to cut through the concession line to get to the smelly bathrooms….

Anyways, I just want to see my dawgs play!

DawgyDayCare

August 24th, 2012
1:03 pm

I would like to see emphasis on the little things that made Sanford Stadium special in the past. The Georgia “G” at the goal lines, the famous block letters in the endzone, etc. UGA has gone away from that the past couple seasons, rendering Sanford Stadium noticeably ordinary. Maybe they should make that happen for 2012.

I also like the idea of a “crunk” song. Being a young alum myself, I can say with absolute certainty, the one game I will always remember is the blackout game from 2007 vs. Auburn. Not only because of said blackout, but because of Soulja Boy. I’ve never been so amped up at a sporting event (Braves, Falcons, Hawks, Thrashers, etc.) in my short life.

Finally, lets talk ticketing… bring back the old system. That is all.

Go Dawgs!

Spike 80DF

August 24th, 2012
1:16 pm

how about the old farts on the alumni side quit saying “down in front” and actually get up off your @$$ and cheer for your team instead of sitting there with your arms crossed.

Sorry, but the restrooms start out clean and fresh...

August 24th, 2012
1:24 pm

…so it is not they that are a disgrace – it is the slobs who use them and leave them in disarray that are disgusting – and it is not just at UGA, it is true all over every stadium.

And, regardign porta-potties, what does on expect when you use them during hot and humid weather – there is really nothing that can be done to remedy this situation…

And, see item number 1, if you are tired of them being dirty…

dawgfan

August 24th, 2012
1:24 pm

I agree with Smokewagon. There are portions of the stadium that are like sitting in on a funeral. Its a bunch of old geezers that act like they’re watching a shuffle board match at the retirement home. They just sit there with very little reaction to anything. Maybe its a generation thing. I can’t imagine my generation being that boring when we get that old. Hopefully things will improve with time.

Why does anyone care...

August 24th, 2012
1:26 pm

…what the stats are during the game – as any coach will tell you, statistics are for losers…;

Hey, dawgfan...

August 24th, 2012
1:27 pm

…you are already that boring – just look at the crap you write on this blog and on Tech blog…