The deadline passed at midnight Monday for University of Georgia fans to make their annual “Hartman Fund” contributions for the right to buy football season tickets. While a final tally won’t be determined for a week or two, UGA associate athletics director for external operations Alan Thomas said late Tuesday that he expects contributions to settle at about the same level as last year.
“It’s pretty fair to say the numbers are very, very similar to 2007 and 2009 [at this point],” Thomas said. “We’ll have much more specific numbers within two weeks.”
The number is fluid because, face it, contributions that arrive a few days after the “deadline” are not going to be turned down. And season-ticket holders who don’t make the minimum contributions necessary to keep their seats are contacted before their accounts are closed.
Thomas said that as of “right this moment,” about $20 million to $21 million in contributions have been booked. He said another $2 million to $3 million usually comes in after the deadline. On that basis, he said he expects the final tally to be about the same as last year’s $23 million, which was down from the record $26 million in 2008 but roughly the same as in 2007.
“We got a significant amount of mail today, and we’ll get a significant amount tomorrow,” Thomas said Tuesday. “We’re in the range of where we were [at this point last year].”
At its meeting on Feb. 3, the UGA Athletic Association’s board of directors was told that early Hartman Fund contributions were “tracking similar to 2009.” With the warning that “it is too early to predict the final numbers,” the board at that meeting was provided figures through Jan. 25. Contributions of $7,007,010 had been received from 4,040 donors as of Jan. 25, compared with contributions of $6,434,806 from 3,667 donors at a similar point in 2009. Not surprisingly, most contributions tend to come in at or near the deadline each year.
Among customers who have made contributions this year, a relatively small number –- 200 to 300 -– donated less than the minimum required to keep all of their seats, Thomas said Tuesday. That suggests those customers plan to retain a smaller number of season tickets than they had last year — perhaps reducing from six seats to four, for example.
Georgia, like many major-college football programs, requires donations from fans before allowing them to buy or renew season tickets. For existing season-ticket holders, a minimum contribution of $250 to $2,000 per seat per year -– the amount depends on seat location –- earns the right to buy the tickets for $40 per seat per game. Contributions above required minimums gain additional benefits, such as the right to buy road and bowl tickets.
On March 9, Georgia will send season-ticket order forms to donors.
After all renewals are processed, new orders will be filled on the basis of customers’ lifetime contributions until the supply of available seats is exhausted. Last year, lifetime contributions of $4,205 were required to become a first-time season-ticket buyer. This year’s cutoff probably won’t be calculated until early summer.
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