From the stratospheric level of two years ago, the donation required to get new Georgia football season tickets has fallen to earth.
UGA said Friday that the minimum lifetime donation needed to qualify for the right to buy first-time season tickets this year is $1,550 –- down dramatically from $10,651 in 2008 and $4,205 in 2009.
As reported by the AJC last week, Georgia officials attribute the fall to two factors: the Bulldogs’ disappointing ‘09 season and the struggling economy.
The way the process works is that all of the previous year’s season-ticket holders retain the right to renew their seats if they make a prescribed annual donation to the UGA Athletic Association’s “Hartman Fund” -– a minimum of $250 per seat, more for prime locations. But becoming a first-time season-ticket buyer is costlier because new orders are filled from the limited supply of non-renewals on the basis of prospective buyers’ lifetime Hartman Fund donations, starting with the highest and continuing until no tickets remain.
The contribution level of the person getting the last available pair of adjacent season tickets becomes the cutoff — a closely watched figure among some Georgia fans.
In 2008, amid the hype of a preseason No. 1 ranking, there were only 804 non-renewals and so much demand for those seats that the contributions cutoff rose from $1,991 in 2007 to the much-talked-about $10,651. In 2009, the number of non-renewals increased to 1,560. This year, coming off an 8-5 season, there were 2,021 non-renewals.
Still, there weren’t enough vacated seats to fill all of the orders that were received before the March 31 deadline.
Season tickets again are sold out, and orders for first-time tickets from people with lifetime donations of less than $1,550 will be refunded.
Overall, contributions this year totaled $22.8 million, down from $23.3 million last year and a record $26.1 million in 2008.
Georgia athletics director Damon Evans said recently that it’s hard to quantify the relative impacts of the economy and the ‘09 season on this year’s decline in donations.
“Look back a couple of years ago. We were preseason No. 1 [and] had beaten Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl -– a big win and a great season -– and thing spiked up,” Evans said. “The support is still there, but I just think when people are excited and when people have a little bit more expendable income, they’ll put more toward their ticket priority. Right now, with the economy and so forth, people are a little bit more hesitant. But we’ll still be sold out.”
Also today: UGA reports nine secondary violations to NCAA.