UGA makes right move switching unused student tickets to young alums

Putting young alumni in some of the unused student seats in Sanford Stadium is a good idea. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Putting young alumni in some of the unused student seats in Sanford Stadium is a good idea. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

I already covered a couple of weeks ago why I thought Mark Richt deserved a raise, so I’m pleased the UGA athletic board acted Tuesday to up his compensation and add a year to his contract.

Something else the athletic board did Tuesday is also worthy of comment: They cut the student allotment of tickets in Sanford Stadium for football games by about 2,000 and instead will make those tickets available to young alumni.

There were 17,910 tickets reserved for students last year, but on average only 11,802 per game have been used since 2009, according to UGA’s ticket scans. The highest student attendance during that period was at the 2011 Auburn game, when 15,450 used their tickets — meaning nearly 3,000 students didn’t bother to show up for the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry!

It’s embarrassing to have viewers tuning in for a nationally or regionally televised game see all those empty seats. The “gaping hole in our stadium,” as athletic Greg McGarity referred to it, has been the subject of much consternation at the school, which has tried different strategies, with mostly middling results, to get more students to show up for the games.

“We need to fill the stadium,” McGarity said.

So, starting with this season, UGA will take a little more than 2,000 of those end-zone tickets and sell them to alumni who finished their undergraduate or graduate degrees in the past five years.

I think it’s an excellent idea. Students weren’t using those tickets anyway, and the young alums, many of whom can’t afford the minimum donation to the Hartman Fund necessary to buy season tickets, have been largely shut out.

Back when students could sell hard tickets, young alums just out of UGA were frequently the buyers. Coupled with the restrictions on North Campus tailgating, the tightening of the ticket supply by going to electronic tickets on a student ID hurt attendance by recent grads. And young alums is a constituency the school and its football program need to develop.

It’s a win-win situation. Whereas students were paying $8 apiece for the tickets they didn’t bother to use, young alumni will be able to buy them for $40 in the first year without having to make a contribution. So the school still will make more money off the seats, even without the Hartman Fund payment. In the second year the young alums will be required to donate $250 to retain the tickets and that amount will increase to the standard base-level donation of $500 in the third year, which sounds fair.

Ryan Scates, a student member of the athletic board, told me it’s also important to note that students will still have the same access to tickets, because “UGA will continue to honor the same amount of student ticket requests as in years past,” essentially overselling the section just like airlines do with flights, because they know everyone won’t show up. As Scates explained, “Data reaching back to 2009 shows that even at the highest recorded levels of attendance, we still can expect over 450 seats to go unfilled in the student section after the Young Alumni Program is implemented.”

So every student who buys a ticket and shows up should have a seat.

Scates, a law student, said he’s an enthusiastic supporter of the move because it “allows newly-minted UGA grads to continue the tradition of fall Saturdays in Athens after graduation. … And most importantly, they have crafted the program in a fashion that will preserve the status-quo in regards to student access to home football games.”

As Scates noted, “the seats in Sanford Stadium for home football games are some of the university’s most coveted resources. I commend Greg McGarity and the UGA Athletics staff for taking a hard look at the most effective way to be a steward of this resource, and to also ensure active alumni support of Georgia athletics for years to come.”

Spoken like a budding politician, but I think he’s right on the mark.

How about you?

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82 comments Add your comment

Flat Tire Doesnt Live in Delusionalville Ga.

February 13th, 2013
9:59 am

Why dont they just go back to the way it was and allow them to sell the tickets if they want. That way we have more fans that want to cheer and see our team win instead of all these corporate people who are at games for just a social event

HistoryofMatt

February 13th, 2013
10:02 am

Let’s just call this what it is: a band-aid over a bullet wound.

UGA continues to do everything but the RIGHT THING, to fix this problem.

GO BACK TO PAPER TICKETS!!!

UGA is being led around by the nose by StubHub. StubHub, a UGA partner, is the ONLY entity that is hurt from a student ticket “black market.”

So at the very same time StubHub become a UGA partner, UGA magically decided to do away with paper tickets from students.

My first two years at UGA, the student sections were ALWAYS full. Why? Because anyone and everyone had access to tickets, either through UGA or through buying tickets from those who couldn’t make it to the game.

This stupidity is allowed to continue, because StubHub, not UGA is calling the shots here.

2000 tickets to “young alumni” is not going to fix the problem.

The only thing that will actually fix the problem is returning to paper tickets for students. Then, everyone who actually wants to attend games WILL actually attend games.

McGarity and Adams and the AA are nothing but puppets of StubHub at this point.

Gary

February 13th, 2013
10:05 am

Oh boy. Wait until all those young alum tickets hit the market on StubHub and e-Bay. With no skin in the game for the young alum, and no student ID required for admission, the price for aftermarket tickets will bottom out next season. Why paid a boatload for season tix when you can get them for next to nothing on the open market. I think the law of unintended consequences is going to come into play here and the policy will change after this coming season. Their hearts are in the right place, but I don’t think this decision was thought through very carefully.

Flat Tire Doesnt Live in Delusionalville Ga.

February 13th, 2013
10:15 am

Since the coaches are getting raises are the fans going to get a reduction in the amount that they have to donate to get season tickets?

I think thats the right thing to do

ugaclass04'

February 13th, 2013
10:20 am

@Gary– I doubt 2000 young alum tickets will affect the secondary market. That’s not a flood of tickets and the price is enough where only serious fans will be buying them. They may flood the market on some of the non-major games, but South Carolina and LSU will be completely unaffected, IMO.

2nd point– they should award Hartman points for turning your anticipated unused tickets back in to the atheletic dept. Not sure exactly what classes of tickets you implement that in, but to me that’s a pretty good incentive.

ugaalumni2010

February 13th, 2013
10:35 am

Personallly, I love this new program! As a recent UGA alumni, I can not afford the donation plus the tickets. This is a good way for young alumni to gain the points and be able to support the dogs without having to scalp tickets for $100.

UGA Insider

February 13th, 2013
11:11 am

UGA fans have been sold down the river yet again. As popular as UGA football is in the state there is no excuse for any seat to be empty. Yet because of money and greed it is.

NCDawg

February 13th, 2013
11:14 am

LOL! Fans vs Stubhub! Isn’t someone going to step up and pull a Pearl Jam vs Ticketmaster?

Ron Roberts

February 13th, 2013
11:21 am

Great idea. Now, let’s fix the Stegeman Coliseum issue. Last night was EMBARRASSING. The “fat-cats” aren’t coming to most games, and the lower bowl’s half-full, at best. Put the students in the first four-five rows around the bowl. They’re difference-makers.

RiffRaff

February 13th, 2013
11:31 am

Mark Richt has lost control of his 1-year contract extension

Fridawg

February 13th, 2013
11:34 am

They basically had that program when I graduated in 2000, but it went away shortly after that. It’s a good idea to re-implement it.

Here’s my Q: Why does it say they’ll have to contribute $500 later? Is the minimum donation going up? My tickets only require a $250 donation in Sect. 119. I hope they don’t plan to double the entry price in 2 years. Perhaps the tickets they have set aside are just in a pricier section of the stadium.

Fridawg

February 13th, 2013
11:35 am

That’s per seat, btw…

Bill King

February 13th, 2013
11:44 am

Fridawg:
Required minimum donations for season tickets vary not only with location in the stadium but with how long you’ve had the tickets.

LawDawg

February 13th, 2013
11:44 am

The solution is embarrassingly simple: Just allow students to sell tickets like they did when I was a student. Is it perfect? No, but I do not ever remember holes in the student section other than noon 1-AA games.

Gene

February 13th, 2013
11:46 am

Since the arrival of Adams, there has been a financial motive behind his every action. There is one here somewhere. I was not aware that UGA had a relationship with Stub Hub.I wonder if Adams’ pal, Regent Leebern, has his fingers in Stub Hub?

Merle

February 13th, 2013
11:51 am

Maybe the tix could be made available to Tech and Ga. State students, maybe they’d show up to see a real game.

GTBob

February 13th, 2013
11:54 am

Maybe the tix could be made available to Tech and Ga. State students, maybe they’d show up to see a real game.

Tech fans didn’t even go to the UGA-GT game last year. You should probably take that as a sign that we aren’t interested in being around your fan base.

Flat Tire Doesnt Live in Delusionalville Ga.

February 13th, 2013
12:03 pm

Bob

Thats good no one wants to sit by obnoxious Tech fans

GTBob

February 13th, 2013
12:12 pm

Good point Flat Tire.

Bryan G.

February 13th, 2013
12:21 pm

@ GTBob – or you just didn’t want to watch your team get the crap beat out of it again.

Columbus Dawg

February 13th, 2013
12:21 pm

Does anyone know if the rumors about Yeldon are true?

GTBob

February 13th, 2013
12:25 pm

Thats good no one wants to sit by obnoxious Tech fans

Good. We can agree that our two fan bases are different types of people and shouldn’t really be around each other. Hopefully that fact will help in the effort to end the GT/UGA series completely.

robodawg

February 13th, 2013
12:28 pm

Don’t presell student tickets and don’t prioritize upperclassmen. Just make student tickets first come first served on the day of the game for general admission seating. Your card gets swiped and the price deducted from your account. That way the only reason a student wouldn’t get in who wanted to would be that they showed up late. As it is students can buy tickets and not use them while other students may not get tickets who would use them.

GTBob

February 13th, 2013
12:28 pm

@ GTBob – or you just didn’t want to watch your team get the crap beat out of it again.

We get the crap beat out of us by other teams too. Then we congratulate them and we all have a good time together. That just isn’t going to happen with UGA fans. There is no point in being around them at all.

whiskey breath

February 13th, 2013
12:47 pm

He is right about Stubb Hubb. Man I wish I could get a piece of that action.
I will give them credit, man they are one smart company. They have figured out how
to control the market and still be scalpers. Isn’t McGarity getting to be some kind of joke?
He likes to come across as a strong, iron hand ruling leader. But in reality, aren’t all his actions something you expected anyway? For example, the Richt raise. Gee big shocker after a year without a raise.
Has McGarity really done anything worth getting excited about?

long time ticket holder

February 13th, 2013
12:50 pm

What does giving “paper tickets” back to the students help? All that does is allow them to sell them. This new plan still allows students to attend games (if they wish), but fills the stadium with alumni that want to support the team at fair prices. It’s a win/win situation. Hopefully, they will look at other ideas to improve the ticket offfice ( transferable season tickets, longevity vs donated dollars policy, road game ticket access ).

Flat Tire Doesnt Live in Delusionalville Ga.

February 13th, 2013
12:58 pm

Bob

When Tech wins you guys act like a bunch of obnoxious nuts

I know Duke Clemson and FSU fans and they cant stand your fanbase especially when you win; you guys act like you never done it before

But I guess thats to be expected from a fanbase whose had nothing to cheer for since the 50’s

GTBob

February 13th, 2013
1:15 pm

I know Duke Clemson and FSU fans and they cant stand your fanbase especially when you win; you guys act like you never done it before

As someone who tailgates with Clemson fans from time to time and knows several fans from the other fan bases you mentioned, I will disagree. However, go on making up how everyone on earth hates us and wishes we would die if it makes you feel better.

WDE

February 13th, 2013
1:16 pm

whiskey breath please continue to type whatever drivel you wish its a free blog and country just please be aware that no one in the Bull Dog Nation give a rats ass what you thing about anything…have a nice day.

WDE

February 13th, 2013
1:16 pm

thing or think…you get the picture.

Matt321

February 13th, 2013
1:21 pm

Third attempt to post a comment! Basically, first two comments are spot on – just return to paper tickets. To understand why oversubscribing is a terrible idea, go to an airport sometime. Who wants to be the first one “bumped” from a game?

Flat Tire Doesnt Live in Delusionalville Ga.

February 13th, 2013
1:40 pm

Sure Bobby

I bet you have a Hollywood star on North Ave too; Entitled world greatest Tech fan

97 grad

February 13th, 2013
1:57 pm

stub hub is a joke, saw the comment above
its a racket…

this is a good start, but the problems for UGA gameday experience are WAY beyond seats. Parking, Traffic, too many parking decks, too many rules against having fun…etc.

They want the money, the people, but not the fun with it. The ath board is very concerned, trust me. Maybe now they will loosen things up. Money talks. Rightnow there is silence waiting on these donations.

I attend all the home games, BUT enjoy away games twice as much.

ACC

February 13th, 2013
1:59 pm

Where is GT?
In Georgia..?

Flat Tire Doesnt Live in Delusionalville Ga.

February 13th, 2013
2:02 pm

GT can easily be found, just look up highest crime neighborhood in America

Red & Black

February 13th, 2013
2:15 pm

Doubt it Flat tire. It is 2nd. The UGA locker room is 1st. Stealing from team…etc.

Red & Black

February 13th, 2013
2:17 pm

20,000 free student tickets, new graduates obviously not buying tix, guess the glamour is off??? Sure did not know that over 1/3 of the crowd in Athens was there on welfare.

Flat Tire Doesnt Live in Delusionalville Ga.

February 13th, 2013
2:20 pm

Red & Black

Nah its Tech; one of their football players was caught with 100lbs of dope in his car

BBB

February 13th, 2013
2:29 pm

Why just sell them to all the die hard football fans that can’t afford season tickets anymore because of price.

Denver Dawg

February 13th, 2013
2:47 pm

Not sure how they can “oversell the section” – general admission?

Otherwise, there’s always the chance two people show up for the same seat.

dawgfacedboy

February 13th, 2013
2:48 pm

“Tech fans didn’t even go to the UGA-GT game last year. You should probably take that as a sign that we aren’t interested in being around your fan base”

I take it as a sign that since you don’t really have a chance to beat UGA on any given year, therefore why go and have UGA fans haze you all day. If the series was more even your fanbase would be more inclined to go.

“Hopefully that fact will help in the effort to end the GT/UGA series completely”

I agree. I don’t know any UGA fans who actually look forward to the Tech game. Their attitude is “don’t let this year be the year we actually lose”.

“We get the crap beat out of us by other teams too. Then we congratulate them and we all have a good time together. That just isn’t going to happen with UGA fans. There is no point in being around them at all.”

Do you think Florida fans are kind to UGA fans when they win? Auburn/Alabam fans are nice to eachother and “good sports” when they win? Please. If your fanbase is going to continue to be obnoxious about how much smarter your school is then our fanbase is going to continue being obnoxious when beat you in football.

You are right about one thing; our fan bases are completely different. Our fanbase is stereotyped as low educated, drunk rednecks. Your fanbase is perceived as nose-in-the-air, think your better than us pocket protecting wearing nerds.

Flat Tire Doesnt Live in Delusionalville Ga.

February 13th, 2013
2:51 pm

Can someone tell me why Tech has an athletic program

The fans dont even care about sports and is why the athletic dept is floundering financially

Denver Dawg

February 13th, 2013
2:54 pm

Bill, I wasn’t aware donation level requirements changed based on how long you’ve had the seats – aren’t these amounts ($250 & up) clearly listed on the mailers they send out to everyone?

Alan

February 13th, 2013
2:56 pm

Tech has a football team?!?!

gbal

February 13th, 2013
3:07 pm

What does giving “paper tickets” back to the students help? All that does is allow them to sell them.

It insures that all the seats are filled. The students who have butdont use their tickets give or sell the so someone who does us them. Now if I have a tic and decide not to go, I cant give it away. Seat is empty.

coachx

February 13th, 2013
3:30 pm

Paper tickets if not the answer………of course its great for college kids who want to make a quick $100 for nothing.

If students demand doesn’t reach the supply then you cut down on the supply and let UGA (not 19 year old students) sale the tix and reap the profits.

This is not a charity……….its a business.

coachx

February 13th, 2013
3:32 pm

Denver Dawg,
You are correct…..the minimum donation to retain 1 season tix is $250……..though that is normally not enough to get you “in” as a first time season ticket holder.

FAN

February 13th, 2013
3:40 pm

dawgfacedboy just owned GTbob. OWNED!!!

Newman

February 13th, 2013
3:55 pm

This is nothing new. The “young alumni” program was in effect for many, many years until the Evans administration.

HistoryofMatt

February 13th, 2013
3:59 pm

Bill,

This is a question aimed squarely at you:

Why are you and everyone else ignoring the actual reason behind UGA’s attendance woes?

Why is everyone ignoring the story of greed of one of the most successful AA’s in the country and their “legitimate” scalpers sponsors as the actual reason?

Come on Bill… this problem didn’t exist until StubHub became a UGA partner. And what happened that very same year? UGA AA cancelled paper student tickets.

Why? I’m sure it’s just a coincidence, right?

I mean, for 50 years, UGA didn’t care about the student ticket secondary market, then a few years ago, we’re supposed to believe that NOW they care about the secondary market?

Why lies and bullcrap you allow to fester by just not stating the obvious and laying bare the greed of Adams and the AA.

They wanted the money a StubHub sponsorship brings. In order to get that money, Adams and the AA sold the students out. Sold us out.

And in doing so, they’ve reaped the embarrassment of empty seats in the stadium. Seats that used to be full even for Kentucky or Georgia Southern or Jax State.

Why are you scared to just state the actual reason Bill, and pretend that this latest b.s. move by the AA will be anything else but a failure?

There will STILL be empty seats. Noticeably empty seats.

So, UGA AA got their StubHub money, and that’s great, I’m not against capitalism. But let’s stop LYING about why the seats are empty.

StubHub told them what to do, and they did it. End of story. Let’s call a spade a spade here, and stop dancing around the truth, as you have the last few years about this issue.