What could make a day Between the Hedges even better for UGA fans?

What could make game day in Athens even better for the Dawgs and their fans? (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

What could make game day in Athens even better for the Dawgs and their fans? (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Mid-June generally would be considered the summer doldrums for college football, but there was a surprising amount of news for Bulldog fans this week, both good and bad.

On the plus side, after getting the recruitniks all worked up with its ultra slow start, UGA’s football recruiting for 2014 finally got into high gear this week, with five commitments, including quarterback Jacob Park, two-way player (and likely cornerback) Malkom Parrish (who chose the Dawgs over Tech) and Nick Chubb, the top-rated running back in the state.

Of course, since it’s Father’s Day weekend, I’ll play the dad here and point out that nowadays in college football a verbal commitment doesn’t mean a whole lot, so when I see headlines like “Nick Chubb Is a Dawg,” I shake my head. Remember Derrick Henry? Still, it’s awfully encouraging to see that kind of talent expressing a desire to play in Athens. I hope they all end up signing next February.

On the down side for the week, promising freshman defensive back Reggie Wilkerson tore his knee up in voluntary pass drills and will have to take a medical redshirt year to recover from surgery. Good thing Todd Grantham has some more young defensive secondary talent coming in August.

Meanwhile, with just 11 Saturdays left until the 2013 season starts, a lot of us are already thinking about the next time we’ll get to sit inside Sanford Stadium, which recently was tapped by Athlon Sports as the second-best stadium in the SEC, ranking behind only LSU’s Tiger Stadium, legendary for its deafening crowd and intimidating atmosphere.

Said Athlon of Sanford: “It may not be the SEC’s biggest or loudest stadium, but it is the most beautiful. Named for late former university president Dr. Stedman Vincent Sanford, the Bulldogs’ home stadium is located in the heart of the plush greenery of the gorgeous Athens campus. The famed privet hedges line the field and separate the Georgia fans and the action on the field with style that matches the dolled-up student section. Sanford’s Southwest corner is also home to a canine marble mausoleum in which the first eight generations of Bulldog mascots have been laid to rest. Uga IX currently resides in a permanent on-field, air-conditioned doghouse near the cheerleaders’ platform on Saturdays. Mark Richt is 63-13 ‘Between the Hedges’ and has his team poised for another perfect home slate in 2013.”

They definitely got it right in picking Sanford as the prettiest setting for a football game in the SEC.

Some more of this intensity on the fans' part would make playing Between the Hedges more intimidating for opponents. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Some more of this intensity on the fans' part would make playing Between the Hedges more intimidating for opponents. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

But there’s always room for improvement, and as veteran attendees of Georgia home games know, even a packed Sanford Stadium doesn’t always offer the most intense game day atmosphere. Whether it’s students showing up late (if at all) or many alums sitting on their hands, it seems to take a visit by a longtime rival or a really close game to get the Athens crowd up on its feet and making some real noise.

What else would make UGA’s stadium a better place to see a game?

Some folks would like to see the stadium expanded to add maybe another 20,000 seats. I’m not sure that’s even on the distant radar, but if it were, it would raise a bunch of concerns. Where would all those additional people park and eat and go to the restroom? At the very least, any major expansion of Sanford would require the addition of more Reed Plaza type areas — and I’m not certain that’s even physically possible within the stadium’s existing footprint.

One of the biggest complaints I hear from Georgia fans about game day in Athens concerns the restrictions on tailgating put in place a few seasons ago after university officials got tired of the trashing of North Campus. Last season, the rules on being able to bring trailers, cookers, etc. on campus for tailgating were relaxed a bit, but this is an issue that still needs to be worked out for the long haul.

As for the tight parking situation around campus on game days, I know a lot of folks look back fondly on the days when you could stick your car just about anywhere, including on sidewalks, but that was a dangerous situation that needed rectifying and I don’t see UGA officials changing their minds about that. So if, like some folks who voted in our poll this week on reasons for not attending games, you find dealing with parking too much of a hassle, well, you’re probably better off investing in a large-screen HDTV and watching from home.

For those of us who think it’s worth the hassle to be watching the Dawgs Between the Hedges in person, though, the loosening up of SEC rules about replays and showing highlights from other games last year was a big plus, but there are still things that could be improved at Sanford. The issue that’s brought up the most (especially by younger alums) is the need for WiFi capability inside the stadium. Fans would like to be able to text and tweet and follow game stats like they can at home. That seems like a problem that ought to be fixable.

Depending on where you sit, concessions and restrooms still might be a problem, too. Things are much better on the North side in that regard since the Reed Plaza expansion a couple of seasons ago, but there are other sections of the stadium where you risk missing most of a quarter of the game if you want to go get something to drink or visit a restroom. And a lot of fans gripe about the state of the older restrooms, too.

I also hear complaints from those students who do bother to show up for the games about the way seating is handled, especially in the most desirable section next to the band. The wristband set-up doesn’t seem to work too well, especially with some of the Greek organizations allowed to reserve entire rows. Whatever happened to first come, first served?

A lot of fans also complain about not being able to hear the Redcoat Band. My daughter Olivia says it’s difficult to hear them even in the student sections closest where the band sits. Last year, the conference changed its rules to allow the bands at games to be amplified and the Redcoats were talking about doing that but never could get the logistics worked out. Let’s hope they haven’t given up on that.

I’ve also heard from other fans who agree with my son that having some sort of “team song” played on the PA system that the students and players could relate to, as with the Soulja Boy number a few years back, would be a big plus. As young Bill noted last year, “Traditionalists won’t like it, 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.”

So what would you like to see changed or improved at Sanford Stadium? What could UGA do so that in the future rankings like Athlon’s might see the Bulldogs’ stadium ranked No. 1?

Got something you want to discuss concerning the upcoming football season or UGA athletics? Or a question you want the Junkyard Blawg to tackle? Email me at  junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

142 comments Add your comment

Music City Dawg

June 15th, 2013
10:37 am

I’d like to see more variety in the food that is served at the concessions. Seems like B’cue chicken on-a-stick and other kabob type foods, brats, full-fledged tacos (not just cheese sauce on chips), and ice cream and frozen pops would be great. These are foods that should be easily available from from whoever sources the concessions for the stadium so that it is easy for the groups who man the concessions to serve up the food in a timely manner. And they should be available at all concession stands and not just the big one at the north end.

Lady Dawg

June 15th, 2013
11:32 am

My family has season tickets, and we attend EVERY game. I like your suggestions for amplifying the band and addressing the food and restroom issues. We sit on the south end, and it takes way too long to get food and/or use the restroom. I’m not sure what the answer is, maybe the young alumni program, but the student section needs fixing. It should be packed and loud. Would it help to put students that scan in before kickoff in a drawing for a picture with Uga or CMR? I like the idea of having a modern song the players and other students can relate to. You are right about that getting the crowd electrified. I miss seeing the stadium that way. What about adding some fireworks when the team scores? I’ve seen that at other stadiums.

ARdawg

June 15th, 2013
11:49 am

I want to see another national championship banner hanging up there

Gary Taylor

June 15th, 2013
12:01 pm

A lot of the concession issue is with the quality of service provided by those working the concession stands. They are very slow and most have a bad attitude.

Bulldawg35

June 15th, 2013
12:20 pm

Beating SC would make Sanford stadium better….have a black out for that game. Who cares about chips and ice cream….they should serve healthier food damn it. Some of you shouldn’t be eating that junk.

1969 Graduate

June 15th, 2013
12:27 pm

I agree: A National Championship.

Go, Dawgs.

HillDawg

June 15th, 2013
12:51 pm

I see you bought into the old ” Its too dangerous to park on the sidewalk/ curb” lie that was used to get the then empty parking garages over a half mile away fill at $20 per car and starting this year $30 per car. Tailgated on Cedar Street South of the stadium for 43 years. Never saw an accident. No trip and falls, no car collisions. Nothing! Saw fire trucks drive by with no difficuty. Saw police drive by regularly. Even had National Guardsmen assigned there for the day. Don’t buy that ”Its about safety” bull. Its not about safety or little children or the poor or the elderly. It is about money! ….As for stadium improvements, nothing has been done on the original Southside since the old wooden seats were replaced with aluminium seats and th ladies restrooms were enlarged. Men’s restroom is like it was 40+ year ago. Too small, two sinks and no paper towels by half time. Food service still sucks with poorly trained, very slow employees and long, long lines…… The dicision makers don’t tailgate or sit in the Southside lower section. How would they know how to improve game attendance? Oh…. I forgot. A louder PA system will really draw a crowd!……… Does anybody watch the football game?

Bulldawg35

June 15th, 2013
1:01 pm

I’m not sold on Jacob park….he reminds me of Logan Gray.
0-2 a coming
Clemson by 10
SC by 17

Bulldawg35

June 15th, 2013
1:05 pm

I just wonder how many yards tech will have rushing on us this year…we cannot stop that triple option……our defense is just to damn soft

Bulldawg34

June 15th, 2013
1:13 pm

Don’t be afraid of Tech’s triple option offense, we’ll pull the win out. Our defense will perform a lot better than a lot of people think.

Bulldawg34

June 15th, 2013
1:18 pm

Georgia will have a 4-0 start by the end of September, Clemson, South Carolina, North Texas, and LSU will be tough games for our young D. But we will pull out the wins tough. I bleed red & black until the day I die!

Hershel/Gurshall-34!

Bulldawg34

June 15th, 2013
1:22 pm

Everybody ignore bull-dawg-35, he is Hershel Walker’s evil twin brother. More like, my evil twin brother. He was jealous of me when we were young kids & never did his daily workouts like I did.

ME

June 15th, 2013
1:32 pm

Hate to be the source of this news, BUT EVERYBODY who feels TAILGATING is important need to look at the MASTER PLAN. The following ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT CONTROLLED LOTS are GONNA BE REPLACED BY ACADEMIC /DORM/DINING HALL BUILDINGS: The Tate Center Deck, Legion Field Pool Lot, The Lumpkin/Baxter St Lot, The Hull Street Lots (All of them except the deck), The Oglethorpe House Area Lots, The Church & Hill Dorm Lots, The Clarke Howell Hall Lot, and more. These folks who donate $2500/year to park here are gonna be moved farther away. How far AWAY WILL THE REST OF US HAVE TO TAILGATE? Inside the stadium, commercial breaks & delays and bathroom access is the big problem.

Bulldawg35

June 15th, 2013
1:34 pm

Bulldawg34… You are insane….4-0 I don’t think so….I do more workouts big boy…I bet you my body fat percentage is less than yours and most people on here…Tia

ScoutDawg

June 15th, 2013
1:58 pm

I would like to see about 10 mil of that war chest invested in the stadium. 92 k seats is cool with me, but how about updating concessions, restrooms, wi-fi; just like you said. Also, by ALL means amp the damn band!

ScoutDawg

June 15th, 2013
2:00 pm

What the heck r you idiot$ arguing about? NERDS.

Bulldawg34

June 15th, 2013
2:02 pm

Bulldawg35… You are ignorant…. believe in the G no matter what happens, you have no heart or passion for your own team. Gurshall-34 will lead Georgia to a national championship season and a 14-0 season. Mark Richt has been having interviews with people talking about Georgia having a quick & fast start this upcoming season due to the tougher schedule. The 32-28 loss to Alabama last season will motivate the entire team bulldog team to make a return appearance to the SEC title game and shock the college football world. It’s going to be a magical season to never forget. You 35, is a disgrace to the legendary 34 of UGA.

Bulldawg34

June 15th, 2013
2:07 pm

With a younger and hungrier UGA defense this upcoming season, it could be better this year than last. We have a lot, lot lot of speed on the field. Which goes a long ways. The ingredients are there. This will be the year for Ray Drew to step up. I think they’ll be better against the run than pass this year because of the different qualities of the new personnel. Maybe not top 10 in the country, but possibly in the top 15-20 type defense. UGA’s defense will be better than last season’s people

Bulldawg35

June 15th, 2013
3:28 pm

34….ray drew….hahaha….he is not even going to start….he can’t even beat out a bust sterling bailey!! I’m sick and tired of Grantham! Our secondary is going to be young and thin….definitely wont finish 7th in the nation in pass defense in 2014…..sorry

Skokie Dog

June 15th, 2013
4:43 pm

Confine the greek kids to the west end zone seats. (They can keep their entire row arrangement thtere.)
And have the ‘Dogs win the games played against the highly ranked teams.

dawgfan

June 15th, 2013
4:49 pm

No one over the age of 55 allowed in the stadium under any circumstances. No exceptions.

Women over the age of 30 are not allowed in the stadium unless they can name a minimum of 15 past or present UGA football players.

These are just a couple of measures that I can think of off the top of my head that would improve the game day experience for SERIOUS fans.

Thanks.

gsuga

June 15th, 2013
5:13 pm

Move on, too much living in the past with the same pregame videos each week. Step up with some more recent game footage. Start some new update traditions and presentation.

HistoryofMatt

June 15th, 2013
5:46 pm

The issue with noise is easy-enough fixed, but don’t expect McGarity to do anything about it, as cheap as he is (when Kentucky… KENTUCKY spends more money per year on their teams than UGA, you know your Athletic Department is never going to do right and spend the money needed to win).

You put an aluminum roof, like what Bama has, over the stands to reflect the noise back to the field.

You put it up, from the South upper-upper-deck, around the east endzone, and then you even have a roof jut-out from on top the skyboxes.

You angle the roof about 30 or 45 degrees, and al the noise that goes up and out (because Sanford’s upper decks are not steep enough) now will bounce back to the field.

Problem solved. Easy peasy.

baddawg

June 15th, 2013
6:34 pm

Man am I juiced for this season! When we win out we will get all the recruits we need jump ship to UGA…Bank on it, Bubba…

ROCK DAWG

June 15th, 2013
9:02 pm

Time to expand the seating capacity to add another 10-15,000 seats . If you add the seats , they will come !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

RED DOG 77

June 15th, 2013
11:57 pm

Has Everyone forgotten about Kolton Houston?………….Kid did nothing but have his shoulder worked on by his highschool team doctor…………doc popped him with a dose of hgh for healing [Houston was unaware]…………….Now poor Kolton is going into his Junior season and has yet to be allowed to play a down of football in college…………..NCAA is screwing the boy…………..come on BULLDOG NATION………..Make some noise about this injustice………….We are a joke if we can’t stand behind our own………………….RED

banders1

June 16th, 2013
5:45 am

Stop giving away entire rows in the student section to Greeks who don’t show up until halftime.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

June 16th, 2013
6:53 am

Bulldawg34

A national title???

Keep dreaming,

we’ve had too much talent for way to many years and all we get is 2 or more losses every season with nothing but coaching raises and gimmick phrases (Dream Team, Knocking on the Door To Greatness, etc) every pre-season to get fans like you settled down and back to dreamland so that you can avoid reality which has been staring everyone in the face for years

The quicker you realize 10 wins and losses to top 15 teams all the time is all we are going to get until things change from the top down the better you will enjoy being at Sanford stadium enjoying the scenery and a nice $5 hotdog and $5 Coke ;)

billdawg

June 16th, 2013
7:19 am

I’m a 40 year season ticket hold (post grad school & military). My biggest complaint is the constant erosion from a fan friendly environment to a money grabbing machine. I love my Dawgs, but the hassle, or near impossibility of tailgating has significantly damaged the capability to reunite with my college friends. Also, the cost of games, my 4 tickets and contributions, nearing $2,500 per year, has also removed many alumni from attending the games. I’m close to giving up my 40 yard line seats and sitting at home behind the big screen!! If I do go, it’s cheaper to go to stubb hub for the SEC games that matter.

billdawg

June 16th, 2013
7:29 am

“dawgfan” needs a reality check. Wants to ban all fans 55 and older from the games. Where does he think the big bucks come from that support the team. Suggest he walk around the stadium and take a look at how many of the “hardcore” Dawg fans are in his “exclude” category. Personally, I’ve missed 3 home games in 46 years of attending as a student and an alumni. Match that loyalty “dawgfan”!

ksleezy

June 16th, 2013
8:03 am

What could make a day Between the Hedges even better for UGA fans? a Widespread Panic concert at halftime is what would be AWESOME!! Go DAWGS!! Is it August 31st yet?!?!?!?!?

Tom

June 16th, 2013
8:15 am

Topless chicks and free drinks!

DogBark

June 16th, 2013
9:26 am

The dogs have more talent than anyone on their schedule—the only team close is florida and their offense will be down again–dogs beat them by 10+. This is the year of the dog! Dogs beat alabama for the SEC title!!!!

Dawgmeat

June 16th, 2013
9:36 am

Agree with Me’s comments completely. Been in Hull street
Many years and depending on where we get moved a lot of us may not send that $3,500 anymore to get moved into a deck.

fan

June 16th, 2013
9:41 am

As a visitor, I liked the old type atmosphere. The rr tressle, and the iffy seats in the end zone. Too much money is needed for Title IX. Generations change and it is apparently more fun to watch on the tube with a floozy on your lap than spend the day in Athens.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

June 16th, 2013
9:54 am

DogBark

Please tell your owner to put water in your bowl and not kool-aide

Dont you know kool-aide makes you delusional

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

June 16th, 2013
9:56 am

this is the year of the dog???? LOL, no its just another year of 2 or more losses and embarrassments against top 15 opponents

Skokie Dog

June 16th, 2013
10:22 am

Flat Tire: Watch out. Someone on here will be calling you “energy vampire” before long.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

June 16th, 2013
10:31 am

Skokie

Yea true you forgot to mention “Society of the Miserable”

dawgfan

June 16th, 2013
11:39 am

billdawg, thanks for all your support of the program, but the question was how to make Sanford a more intimidating environment instead of the freaking library that it usually is on game days. Eliminating the old foggies who do nothing but sit on their rears and look bored would go a long way. That’s all I’m saying. The problem with UGA game days is that too many “fans” view it as a social engagement instead of a big time college football game.

Thanks.

Skokie Dog

June 16th, 2013
1:43 pm

fan wrote: “Generations change and it is apparently more fun to watch on the tube with a floozy on your lap than spend the day in Athens.” That’s probably correct. Back in the day, before all the TV contracts, it was more fun to watch the game in Sanford Stadium with a floozy on your lap, right?

Mr. P

June 16th, 2013
2:24 pm

Better cell service in the stadium. My brother and I have seats in section 318 and have little to no cell service. He has AT&T and I have Verizon. Also, I agree that student should be able to see their tickets. Having their tickets all on a scanable card will always ensure empty seats.

Bulldawg35

June 16th, 2013
8:05 pm

Flat tire is right….we will defintley lose our usual 2 games this year….how many total games we lose this year is a toss up

Matt321

June 16th, 2013
8:52 pm

Bill, it’s sad to see you dogging on the students this way. I was a student when Student Government at the time decided that students selling tickets was a terrible problem and paper tickets had to go. I predicted then that they would kill the second hand market which acted as the only sorting mechanism to get tickets from the hands of students who did not want them into the hands of people who did want them. This is clearly what happened.

Georgia has 30,000+ students (is it more accurate to say almost 40,000 now)? There are plenty to fill up the student section, if they could get tickets . Georgia should either a) go back to paper tickets, which would make the most sense, or b) let all students in free to the student section, first come first serve (as they do at many colleges), or c) stop the lottery right-to-buy system they use now, and instead just open the box office for student ticket sales 1-2 hours before kick-off – general admission, first come, first serve.

Scott B in DC

June 16th, 2013
9:56 pm

I don’t live in Athens or where I can get to the games easily, but when I went to homecoming last year, I was worn out by the beginning of the 3rd quarter. Why? The games are too long and there is too much time between possession changes because of television. Television is making the games longer and too boring, especially when the opponent is weak, because of the hurry up and wait. I know the networks have to make their money, but there has to be a better way than lengthening the game. If this persists, I will never go to a game. I could put my time during the commercials to better use than sitting in the stadium and waiting.

If I go to a game, I want to see a game. I do not want wait for CBS or ESPN to sell their wares. Otherwise, the folks in Sanford Stadium better come up with new ways to entertain us.

RED DOG 77

June 16th, 2013
10:27 pm

What a bunch of whining crybabies………..Put yourself in Kolton Houstons place for a moment………………and to think the young man is taking it like a man………..no squealing, pouting or crying like most of you goofballs posting above………………GEORGIA it’s time to support this kid…………….Let’s get with it……………….RED

Randy Ellison

June 16th, 2013
11:03 pm

-Very Simple..we need a better game announcer that gets the fans excited just before the game and then continues thru the game!…It’s OUR home field and we should be getting LOUD like at other SEC fields…a good stadium announcer with spirit would make a big difference!!

Bulldawg35

June 17th, 2013
7:54 am

I don’t support Houston…he is hooked on steroids!!! If not he would be playing

AltamahaDawg

June 17th, 2013
7:57 am

The new alum program just went a long way to amping up the stadium. They need to keep adjusting that till they find the right mix of grads and student. I assume they will end up back at where they were before they added several thousand student tickets a few years ago.

AltamahaDawg

June 17th, 2013
8:12 am

Matt, here is my problem with the logic of the paper ticket excuse.

simply put:

Don’t the freshman already HAVE a ticket to North Texas? who would you sell it to?
It’s not like there is a bunch of tickets going to waste for LSU.

Not to mention that everybody can turn them back in (if getting them into somebody hands that will use it is really a concern) very late in the game week.

The electronic system might not be dialed in exactly on the number right now, but it will even out eventually. And they aren’t going to revert back to outdated technology. They certainly aren’t going to have a free for all battle for tickets on the bridge 2 hours before the game