No change for Georgia-Florida ticket prices; big change for Sanford Stadium video board
(Updated 8 p.m.)
ATHENS — Ticket prices for the Georgia-Florida football game in Jacksonville will remain unchanged this year after UGA decided not to follow the Gators’ lead in raising them.
Florida’s athletics board voted in December to raise the prices by $10 per ticket, provided Georgia would go along. But Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity told the board of directors of the UGA Athletic Association at its winter meeting Thursday that he would not propose hiking prices for the 2011 game.
That means prices will remain the same as the past four years — $40 for regular seats and $70 for club seats.
“It takes two to tango, so to speak,” McGarity told the board, “and we’re not ready to make that move yet.”
McGarity said he would recommend, probably at the board’s May meeting, possible price increases for the game in 2012 and beyond.
“Sometimes it’s good timing for one school and bad timing for another school,” said McGarity, who worked at Florida for 18 years before becoming Georgia’s AD in August.
The timing for a price hike would be particularly bad for Georgia, coming off a 6-7 season and 18 losses in the past 21 games against the Gators. Georgia also won’t increase ticket prices for home games, McGarity said.
Several other matters were discussed and/or acted upon at Thursday’s meeting. Among them:
- The board of directors voted to spend about $1.4 million to improve the Sanford Stadium video board to “HD quality.” The structure will remain its current size — 52 feet high by 76 feet wide — but will be retrofitted so that the full screen can be used for video display when desired. Currently, video is limited to a 25 feet by 46 feet screen, with the rest of the board used for scores, statistics, animations, etc. The upgrade, McGarity said, “is something you probably need to do every five or six years” because of the “staggering” speed of improvement in video technology. He said the project will be completed by Georgia’s home opener against South Carolina on Sept. 10.
- The board approved issuing up to $69.5 million in bonds to restructure old debt and cover the $33 million cost of the recently completed expansion of Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall, Georgia’s football and athletic association headquarters building. Construction costs were paid from the association’s reserve funds, which will be replenished with bond proceeds. Board members attended a dedication ceremony for the expanded building after their meeting.
- In response to last season’s noticeable number of empty seats in the student sections at Sanford Stadium, the board approved a new system of dealing with the 18,000 seats that go to students for each football game. If students with tickets don’t attend a game or designate their seats for use by another student or for sale to the general public, they’ll receive a “strike.” Three strikes in a season will make a student ineligible for tickets to a bowl game and the following season’s games. The plan was supported by student leaders.
- UGA President Michael Adams told the board the athletics department soon will get an outside review of NCAA compliance issues, as SEC schools do on a rotating basis. “We have right now too much non-compliance in the SEC, and we have too many rumors of non-compliance,” Adams said. “As much as I hate to get beat, I would rather get beat and be in compliance. . . . To have an outside group come in and make sure we are doing everything we can to ensure [compliance] is something this board ought to be thankful for.”
- Faculty athletics representative David Shipley reported the grade point average of UGA men’s and women’s student-athletes declined in the fall semester from the previous spring. The women averaged 3.06 and the men 2.74 in the fall, both down .08 from the spring. “We are not happy with that slippage,” Shipley said.
– Tim Tucker, AJC