Some interesting tidbits came out of the UGA athletic board’s spring meeting this week, including athletic director Greg McGarity shooting down the likelihood of a matchup between Georgia and Florida State in the 2016 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta.
McGarity confirmed discussions have taken place but said: “I think that is a long, long shot.”
The problem, he said, is that playing a neutral site game like that means UGA doesn’t have seven home games. And while the payment from the Chick-fil-A game would make up “from a budget standpoint” what the athletic department would lose in revenue, McGarity said, it wouldn’t make up for the loss of revenue to the city of Athens.
We’re very sensitive to our role in the community,” he said, “and if it’s not the best thing for the community, (and) there’s no question it is not,” then he’s hesitant about going forth.
McGarity brought with him from Florida a scheduling sweet tooth (as in a fondness for cupcakes), so the emphasis on seven home games is to be expected. But this isn’t the first time the Athens native has mentioned his concerns about what’s good for the Classic City.
When the subject of holding concerts at Sanford Stadium like the recent Jason Aldean show came up, McGarity spoke of it as “a way of using your venue and creating events that generate revenue for the city and county and that are just good for the university community and the Athens community.”
As UGA associate athletics director Josh Brooks put it: “Greg McGarity is big about taking chances and doing things for the right reasons. Being an Athenian, he gets it. He knows what it means [economically] for the town to have another major event.”
Home football games mean a lot to Athens. Business of College Sports, a website that evaluates the legal and business aspects of collegiate sports, found that, for the 2011 season, each UGA home game brought in about $2.95 million to the surrounding community.
It even makes a difference what time kickoff is and the who the opponent is. With a noon game, people tend to arrive just in time for the game and head home right afterward, meaning they don’t patronize local businesses as much. With a 3:30 p.m or later kickoff, Athens merchants and restaurateurs not only get lots of pregame business, but more fans are likely to spend the night.
During the 2010 season, which saw a lackluster home schedule with lots of early games, local businesses howled about the loss of revenue.
Granted, the primary factors in Georgia’s football scheduling should be what’s best for the program and the school. But too often there’s a town and gown split in college towns that isn’t healthy for either side. As a fellow Athens native, I find it refreshing to see UGA’s athletic director keeping the interests of his hometown in mind.
TICKET SCANNING SET
Another item of business at the athletic board meeting was the approval of $1.25 million for tweaks at Sanford Stadium, including closed captioning boards on the inside north and south sides of the stadium, an upgrade to the Champions Club and ticket scanning equipment. A UGA news release confirmed that means ticket scanning will be implemented this fall for all ticket holders entering the stadium.
That will put the general ticketholders on the same page as students, whose tickets have been scanned since 2009. So athletic officials will know not just how many tickets they sold, but exactly how many folks actually showed up. It’ll be interesting to see whether they make the latter figures public in addition to announcing “paid attendance” (tickets sold).
LATEST PRESEASON RANKING
Athlon Sports has been releasing its 2013 preseason Top 25. As this is written, they haven’t yet revealed the top two (so we don’t know whether Alabama or Ohio State will be No. 1), but Georgia is ranked a lofty No. 4 and is picked to win the SEC East again. Athlon has South Carolina at 5, Clemson at 6, LSU 12th and Florida 13th.
Looks like they’re putting a lot of faith in Georgia’s offense and are figuring the youth and lack of experience on the rebuilding defense won’t be as much of an early-season factor as a lot of UGA fans fear.
What do you think? Is No. 4 too high for a team that lost as much talent on defense as Georgia did, or did Athlon get it about right?
NEW LOOK ONLINE
The UGA athletic department’s official Website, Georgiadogs.com, unveiled a new look this week that they’re touting as cleaner and easier to navigate.
One of the major changes is the main navigation bar, which has been moved to the very top of the page and will remain there throughout the site, no matter what page you’re on. Also, on the main page major areas of interest have been grouped under tabs at the top And elements that previously were presented using Flash media have been converted or are in the process of being converted to a more compliant system so that the full site will work better on mobile devices and for those fans who have opted not to install Flash.
It’s definitely a less cluttered look. Here’s an explanation of the new look and features.
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg