A tale of two fan-friendly experiences

I’m sure I’m opening myself up for a fair amount of grief for what I’m about to post, but I hope you’ll bear with me as I make my point.

You see, I’m about to compare my two days as a sports fan this weekend, one spent at G-Day and the other at the Masters.  I’m not going to make a statement about which is a better spectator sport, to compare what’s expected in the way of fan behavior, or anything similar.  What I am going to discuss is which venue provides a more enjoyable setting to be a fan.

Maybe you don’t think that’s a fair comparison for some reason, but I do.  Both are sources for my attention and for my entertainment dollars.  Both face similar issues in balancing fan attendance and the broadcast audience (although The Masters is less frantic about that concern than Georgia, the SEC and big time college football are).  And both are commercial enterprises seeking to separate me from the contents of my wallet.  But for all the similarities, the treatment I receive in each arena is quite different.

Start with what I got out of G-Day.  Now, that’s a spring game, so the economics are different from what I’m subjected to once Labor Day rolls around.  There’s no parking charge (no game charge, for that matter), the stadium isn’t full and you don’t pull your hair over the traffic snarls.  The in-season experience, as we all know, is quite different.  The only place you can stop your vehicle without an assessment is at a red light.  Entry into Sanford Stadium is a fairly clogged routine.  Tailgating has been pushed and prodded into a diminished state.  Inside the stadium, you’re constantly reminded that many areas aren’t suited for a capacity of 96,000 souls.  Concessions can be a fight to get served and the prices can make you blanch.  Bathrooms are less than pleasant experiences at peak times.  Traffic after the game has been a sadly mismanaged affair for some time now.

Compare that to arriving at The Masters.  Traffic is carefully directed, all the way to your parking space, which is free.  Entering the club is smooth, too, even with similar concerns about security.  Once inside, getting around is a breeze.  Everything is clearly marked and accessible.  The efficiency at which you can maneuver through the restrooms and concessions areas is startling, despite the crowds.  (I managed to pick up three sandwiches, chips and beer and pay for them, all in less than two minutes.)  Even the gift store’s legendary crowds don’t get in the way of an efficient shopping experience – and, believe me, that is one crazed place.  The grounds are as immaculate as the course.

Trust me, it’s a jarring comparison to take in on back-to-back days.

Now, I’ll admit it’s not a totally fair comparison to make in certain ways.  For one, Augusta is a bigger town than Athens and the event it hosts draws a smaller crowd, so no doubt the logistics are easier.  For another, there are differences in what’s expected from the crowds (although it should be pointed out that I saw a lot of Georgia fans yesterday).

Here’s the thing, though.  It’s not that unfair.  No one has forced the university administration to expand the stadium capacity to a point where it’s stretched the resources of both the school and the town to handle in comfort.  And, again, these are both sporting events that are commercial operations.  With that comes a responsibility to treat the people they attract in a way that makes them appreciate the experience.

If anything, that should matter more in Athens than it does in Augusta.  The Masters is an exclusive brand and event that has proven to be remarkably immune from outside pressure.  College football, however, is in the throes of dealing with a public that finds watching a television broadcast of the event in comfort a more attractive option to attending the game live than ever.  And yet it’s the golf event that serves itself up to its visitors better.

There’s a pretty basic trick behind the magic.  The Masters simply floods the place with personnel.  It hires an army of local kids, trains them well and deploys them everywhere from the parking lots to the gift store to the restrooms.  The grounds are constantly maintained (everywhere I turned you could see people discreetly removing garbage).  Sure, that costs money, but it’s spent in a way that you can’t help but appreciate and admire.  It also has the benefit of making sales more efficient, which means opportunity to make more sales.

It’s not like money is a problem in Athens.  It’s just that there seems to be little thought to spending it in a way that makes the fan base content.  I think back to the shameful way North Campus was treated before Michael Adams had his hissy fit and essentially shut down the tailgate experience; much of that could have been resolved with better security, more restroom facilities and a reasonable amount of attention paid to trash removal.  None of that is exactly back-breaking from a financial standpoint for a school with Georgia’s resources.  It’s just that no one in a position to improve things could be bothered with it.  And that’s a story you could repeat in many other ways.

Instead, we’re offered enhanced wi-fi, ever more intrusive piped in music and goofy sideshows like yesterday’s mascot abomination as a solution.  But I don’t weigh the prospect of live attendance on the basis of my short-term attention span.  The home experience is about greater comfort and convenience.  I don’t wait to go to the kitchen for a drink, my bathroom smells nice and I can always find a place to park.  This is the lesson I’m afraid McGarity and his AD peers are missing.  I want what I got yesterday – a feeling that the money I’m shelling out is somehow being spent to benefit my experience in a way that gives me what I have at home, while making me feel glad I came.  Athens and Augusta may be different in some ways, but my wish to be appreciated is exactly the same.

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105 Comments

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105 responses to “A tale of two fan-friendly experiences

  1. You said it yourself to me on Friday. Athens views us as wallets. Augusta views us as patrons. There’s your difference in service.

    • Yet I still wind up spending a similar amount of money. What does that say?

      • The suits at Augusta National have decided not to monetize their event to the maximum or CBS/ESPN pays the National a truckload of money. I think they probably have decided they want the event to be the best spectator event in sports, and they have executed on that vision to a T.

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        FWIW this is your most insightful post in years, Senator. I agree 100%. P.S. I was at the Masters, too.

    • David

      I bought a bbq sammich, chips, drink and a snickers bar and it was around $5 back in 1997.(Don’t think the prices have changed much) No other sporting event, fair or amusement park I have been too even comes close to this. Read in the Augusta Chronicle years ago that Hootie and the Master’s did not want to rip anybody off once they were inside.

  2. SCDawg

    Very intersting comparison. I will say Augusta is about the height of fan experience for any sport. No other golf tournaments treat you that way. $3 beers and $1.50 sandwiches. Clothing, umbrellas, etc very affordable.

    I attended the PGA at Kiawah. It was over 90 with little shade, and you were allowed to bring one bottle of water in, provided it was Dasani (got to get your sponsor on). Water was $3-$4 a bottle inside the event, with no water fountains to refill anywhere. Also, no real bathrooms, just trailers. Tickets were, however very easy to get.

    I have entered the raffle to get Master’s practice round tickets for as long as I can remember, and for regular tournament tickets since they opened that up. I got practice round tickets in 2010 for monday. Never gotten them before or since., although I was there in 1986 to see Jack win on Sunday. But those were my Dad’s company’s tickets, and he stopped working there in 1987.

    • Man, I wouldn’t describe clothing there as affordable. But I will say it isn’t cheaply made, either.

      What they sell in the gift store comes at a premium, but it’s not junky.

      • That’s true, but people are willing to pay a premium for items with the Masters/Augusta National logo on it. It’s expensive but you can’t buy it anywhere else.

        • I agree. But the point is at least they’re considerate enough to make sure that what they’re selling isn’t pure crap. If I’m going to spend quality money, give me a quality experience.

          • Absolutely – I love a visit to Augusta National and don’t fret about the money I spend in the merchandise area. It’s a quality experience and worth every dime I spend. Give me a Monday at Augusta National over a cupcake non-conference game against the Coastal Carolinas or Charleston Southerns any day for value.

            • That is a fabulous point. If you’re gonna play a cupcake opponent, shouldn’t you make the attending experience as good as it can be so fans feel like they’re getting their money’s worth?

              • Absolutely – take a cupcake game and don’t pre-sell parking passes for that game. Lift the tailgating restrictions for that game. Reduce the price for concessions. These things aren’t 4 tickets, 4 hot dogs, and 4 Cokes gimmicks. The 600 level is typically pretty empty for these games. Allow people to show up day of the game with 10 pounds of canned goods for the NE Georgia Food Bank and give them two tickets in the 600 level for good publicity. This stuff is easy to figure out. Get some smart people in a conference room in B-M to brainstorm on it.

        • Dubyadee

          Actually, the Augusta National doesn’t permit a logo mark-up. The price is the same as the suggested retail for any item without the logo. So, for example, the price for a Polo shirt is the same as the price at Macy’s.

      • SCDawg

        Well, I thought the PGA gouged you for crap. For example, the junky shirt I bought for probably $20 more than a comparable Masters shirt was falling apart when I tried wear it this weekend. I’ve worn it maybe 3-time. Whereas the Masters visors I had a friend get me years ago are still trucking.

        • Mayor of Dawgtown

          +1. Do not confuse the Masters with the PGA Tour. The Tour is as bad about gouging as any entity in sports.

  3. chefboyardee

    Senator,
    I’ve followed you for years and normally your posts are so well-argued that even if I disagree I can see your point … but this is the most apples and oranges comparison I’ve ever heard you make. Comparing a spring practice at UGA to the Masters is like comparing your kid’s field day to the Olympics. Maybe the fan experience can be better in Athens, but I don’t see how this anecdote proves anything.

    • DawgPhan

      Do you suspect that the fan experience will be much improved for the Clemson game? I am going to go out on a limb and say that the experience will be much the same.

      Besides the awesome piped in music, that is.

    • Maybe the fan experience can be better in Athens…

      That’s my point. I don’t expect an identical experience, but greater commitment to making for a quality fan experience is something UGA is more than capable of achieving.

      • GaskillDawg

        “but greater commitment to making for a quality fan experience is something UGA is more than capable of achieving.”

        UGA isn’t capable of achieving a quality fan experience because its decision makers do not have the culture to accomplish that goal. If I understand correctly the UGA AA isn’t investing in the infrastructure to create better wi-fi access; instead it is pressuring the providers to do so. Likewise the UGA AA isn’t spending any money on recorded music.

        Instead the Butts-Mehre culture is to figure out something that it can SELL to fans to improve the game day experience. Parking on the campus? Used to park for free in campus parking lots. Last 15 years? Sell those suckers. If you don’t want to pay UGAA then walk your ass from Prince Avenue.

        The UGA AA uses the Wal-Mart customer relations policy. Wal-Marts usually are the only general retailer in smaller cites and towns. It treats customers as criminal suspects, searching bags for receipts when exiting, having few salespeople on the floor to help customers find products, and having far too few cash registers open. It knows that there is no where else for folks to shop and it treats customers accordingly.

        UGA AA for so long thought that buying a ticket was the only way to gt a good view. Then 27 inch crt color television gave ay to 60′ HD home theaters and the Butts-Mehre suits haven’t yet figured out how to compete without creating something to sell. .

        • 81Dog

          This.

          The brain trust in Athens has been trying to find ways to squeeze the fans who come to the games since at least the dawn of the Adams era. As long they kept squeezing, and everyone kept paying, they figured they hadn’t hit us hard enough and kept squeezing harder.

          The gentlemen who run Augusta National aren’t altruists by any means, but they have always, always, always, taken great pains to ensure that the patrons who care enough to come to the tournament are treated like guests, not ATMs with feet. Does CBS throw bucketloads of money at them for the privilege of televising the event? Absolutely. Does Augusta National let CBS dictate weird starting times, sponsors, signage, or anything that would impair the experience at the tournament for the patrons? Absolutely not. Could they make more money if they did? Sure. Could Augusta National “create new revenue streams” by “monetizing” parking, concessions, “branded sportswear” and accessories, and most of all, jacking up ticket prices to the level of NY Yankees box seats, or selling “personal badge licenses”? Duh.

          It would be nice if the folks who run UGA figured out that the world isn’t going to end if they allow the people who care enough to come to the games to feel like honored guests, or family, instead of suckers to be cash vacuumed into submission. It would be especially nice if they figured that out before those of us getting cash vacuumed realize we have a superior viewing experience in front of our HD Dolby stereo tv, where the line to the bathroom is non-existant, the food is plentiful and inexpensive, and the drinks are cold and can be consumed without dodging law enforcement.

          The ADs, presidents, etc, may think they have a captive audience and there’s no limit to the amount of abuse fans will take, but once things hit the tipping point, there may be no going back. It happens all the time. Market created, providers ride the wave up, and mistakenly assume it will never peak, and then suddenly they’re riding it straight down.

          • +1. Sometimes I really worry about our leadership, i.e., and you have to wonder about who’s doing the thinking over there.

            In a way, I wish people would stay home in droves this year, sending a clear message about the stadium atmosphere and the gameday experience.

            But I don’t want to see the program hurt. So I guess I’ll just watch, as the country’s best gameday experience just a decade ago, continues its downward slide into the toilet.

            I wish we could go back 10 years, to the end of the Dooley era, and start over again with some solid leadership. Adjustments have to be made as circumstances change, of course. We’ve just made a mess of it.
            ~~~

            • Ivey, I still get chills when I enter Sanford on the home opener Saturday whether we play a directional school cupcake or Clemson/South Carolina. It’s the same feeling I get the years I am fortunate enough to find a ticket to enter the gates of Augusta National. I wish our administration from the President down to McGarity understood that most of our fan base feels the same way.

              When I come out of southwest entry to go to my seats in the lower deck, I know I’m where I’m supposed to be when I see the hedges for the 1st time of the season. I can only hope that my first-born daughter feels the same way after she starts at UGA in the fall.

              • I still get chills when I enter Sanford …. I can only hope that my first-born daughter feels the same way after she starts at UGA in the fall.

                I hope so too.

                I know the feeling you describe all too well. It happens every time I approach the stadium, whether from North Campus, the old alumni lot from Lumpkin to the West, or most often, Sanford Drive to the South.

                It’s the same feeling I had the first time I saw Sanford, having just turned 8 years old, already in love with football, and full of romantic stories I’d heard of Trippi, Sinkwich, Rauch, and others. That day, I was also thinking of the Dye brothers, Britt, Tarkenton, and the recent Tech hero, Theron Sapp (and we beat a good Tech team that afternoon, 16-3).

                I think of all the great games and the great players who’ve played there, all the great teams (opponents too), just the history of the place. And that romanticism with the college game just permeates the whole atmosphere.

                Or at least it used to. For me, the changes in the gameday experience of the last 10 years have gradually eaten that away. I’ve always had a similar feeling when I first view the field, once inside. I still remember vividly the first time I saw that picture, in 1958. I can still see it. There were only the North and South stands then, which held 36,000. But I had never seen anything so glorious.

                Now, my ears are assaulted with all kinds of foreign racket, sometimes before that moment even arrives, and the atmosphere is lost. I hope that’s not true for you, your daughter, and others. But there is nothing I can do about it.

                I, too, suspect there’s a lot more Dawgs like us than leadership thinks. But it doesn’t matter. The toothpaste is out of the tube, and there is neither the vision, nor the courage, to do anything about it.
                ~~~

      • I wholeheartedly agree. The fan experience of a game day Saturday and Masters Saturday/Sunday should be completely different. I understand the need to maximize revenue because there are only 6 or 7 days to do it, but there are a lot of things that would make the UGA gameday experience better. I don’t tailgate any more because it’s easier in my situation to eat and have a beer downtown before the game, but easing tailgating restrictions would be a good thing. The game takes too long now with all of the TV timeouts. In early September and late November, the TV timeouts make cupcake games difficult to attend with young kids which used to be a great way to introduce them to the game. The constant ads and the music take away from the game experience. Maybe I’m just getting old.

    • GaskillDawg

      Using the spring game experience to contrast with the Masters is the more favorable comparison for UGA. The inconvenience in entering into Athens, parking in Athens, ingress and egress, concessions, and restrooms for a regular season game is a far less favorable example with which to compare.

  4. DawgPhan

    Yeah nothing about a trip to Athens suggests a premium experience unless you are spending the dough on a luxury box. So much of the experience at UGA is allowed to happen. Someone’s charity or club wants to volunteer to do something so they let them do it. No training, no thought to the fans experience, just let’s let the local YMCA run a ultra high volume concession stand, what could go wrong?

    • 79dawg

      Great point – perhaps the lines for the concession stands wouldn’t entirely block the concourses if they had professionals running them; if we want to help out these nonprofit groups, why not just give them the damn money left over after after we pay Aramark…

  5. GaskillDawg

    “No one has forced the university administration to expand the stadium capacity to a point where it’s stretched the resources of both the school and the town to handle in comfort.”

    True dat.

    UGA’s Sanford Stadium expansion approach was “how many more seats can we sell” without any regard for whether the stadium, campus and city infrastructure could handle the additional cars and fans. It mirrors the current Division I college culture of viewing everything related to a game, including the local radio broadcast signal, for pete’s sake, as a profit potential.

    Players organizing to bargain for better concussion awareness and prevention isn’t what is going to ruin college sports. The ruin has already begun at the hands of the bean counters.

  6. Newt

    I had the exact same thought while in Augusta over the weekend, and not just in comparing it to Athens, but any other major event. If any event could infringe on the fan experience and get away with it, it’s The Masters. But they do the exact opposite. True, they get you in the merchandise stores, but they could easily soak people for another $50+/day on food, beverage and parking if they wanted to and very few people would complain about it. And it’s more than just the money, it’s the way fans (patrons) are treated, both as individuals and as a whole. But as someone said above, The Masters is unique to even golf in that way. It’s the gold standard for fan experience at a sporting event.

    • Sh3rl0ck

      No to mention that they could charge market rates for badges. The face value for a 4-day badge is $250. The price on the secondary market was an unusually low ~$4500.

  7. BulldogyJay

    I too was able to experience the Masters and G Day last week. I agree that both experiences are vastly different. But eethomaswfnc makes a great point, the Masters does not try to monetize this event. I believe their goal is to run the world’s finest golf tournament. They could charge more for tickets, souvenirs and concessions but they choose not to do that. They also could allow more patrons but they don’t. I think the clothing is a fair price and comparable to prices at any pro shop but probably much less than at other majors. The first time I attended the Masters I assumed that concession prices would be similar to movie theater prices and was shocked at how affordable they were.
    Bottom line, Augusta National/Masters want to run the world’s finest golf tournament, UGAA wants to make all the money the can. McGarity would do well to learn from them and try to balance these two interests rather than being so one-sided.

    • Debby Balcer

      And when the practice rounds had to many fans show up they recognized the problem and fixed it. Augusta is my hometown and they do it right. They treat you as honored guests.

  8. Joe Schmoe

    The comment about North Campus is spot on. I always said that UGA complaining about the condition of North Campus after a game would be like me inviting 300 hundred people to my house for a party, providing no accommodation for parking, locking the bathrooms (which is what UGA started doing), and having one kitchen-sized trash can and then complaining about the mess. They invited us for the party and failed to take any steps to provide adequate infrastructure to keep it in hand. There response was then to treat all tailgaters like felons as opposed to rectifying the true problems.

    • GaskillDawg

      Hell, UGA doesn’t invite me to its party, it charges me a whole tot of money to attend its party.

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      Mike Adams. He’s the guy who did this ^^ and everybody needs to understand that.

      • ripjdj

        This is not rocket science. Other schools in the SEC have figured out that people will work on Saturday and keep the campus trash cans emptied and some security presence during the game. We should be able to leave table /chairs and coolers in place for the post game. Ala/Auburn and Old Miss pull this off why can’t we? Because as properly pointed out above Micheal Adams didn’t like football or Frats because he was too wimpy and nerdy to be part of either in his youth. And what do we have now?…. President ,Adam’s yes man…. I bet Morehead was not a Fraternity man and I know Ga State had no football when he went there. . Our president doesn’t have to be a Georgia man but it wouldn’t hurt and someone familiar with the SEC experience would at least not be an adversary to athletics. Joel Eaves is spinning in his grave. Mark Richt has lost control of the University.

        • 79dawg

          Morehead was actually the factuality sponsor for FIJI for many years….
          The way in which the Law School actually seems to take pride in excluding football fans (even graduates and Bar members), while still allowing the homeless to watch porn all day long on the computers in the Law Library, tells you about all you need to know about our “leadership”…

  9. PTC DAWG

    Man I have to find a way to get on he grounds for the Masters…I have tried entering lotteries to no avail….everyone I talk to about likens it to a Religious experience…..maybe one day they’ll pick me out of the lottery.

    Comparing it to Athens just seems unfair.

    • I am not in the golf world at all. Never played a round of 18 holes, maybe been to a driving range 5 times in my life, never had any real appreciation for the game prior to going to Augusta. Then about 12 years ago I was offered a ticket to one of the practice rounds, and I almost turned it down, but literally had nothing else to do that day, so ended up going just because a few of my buddies were going and I figured at least I’d have fun hanging out with them. You would have never caught me watching golf on tv prior to that time.

      It was easily one of the best times I’ve ever had. Just walking around the grounds is amazing. I was trying to describe it to my girlfriend yesterday, how as beautiful as it is on tv, you literally can’t imagine how much better it is in person. Totally changed my appreciation for the game. I still don’t play, but do enjoy watching on tv, especially the majors. And when I lived down in Jacksonville, FL, I went to the TPC just about every year, which I never would have done had Augusta not turned me into a bit of a fan.

      The TPC is a pretty course too, but not in the same stratosphere.

    • I used to go to Augusta on Mondays when you could show up with a $10 bill and walk in. It was typically the first day of spring quarter at UGA, so we would just blow off classes. I went for the Saturday round in 2010 and it blew me away.

      Here’s how considerate the patrons are. I saw Matthew Stafford with his girlfriend in the merchandise area, and no one went up to him and bothered him while he enjoyed his day at Augusta. One of the guys (not a UGA fan) I was with said, “Isn’t that Stafford? You’re a UGA grad. Go up and talk to him.” I said, “No way. He’s enjoying his day just like we are. It’s cool just seeing him here.”

      Whether you play or not or even if you’re not a golf fan, every sports fan should experience a day at Augusta.

  10. reipar

    Dang man I do not know why you go to the games. That sounds miserable. I would not go if I experienced what you do Senator. Guess I am just lucky that the only complaint I have is the line at the concession stands.

  11. I had the Masters v. Sanford discussion with UGAAA Staff during my time on the athletic board and was laughed out of the room (which was adorned with an oil painting of Augusta National).

    The wallets vs. patron mindset is dead on. It will not change until the board and/or AD decide to apply pressure to the sports marketing majors in the black box.

  12. Jack Klompus

    At first I agreed with you when I read this, but as I started thinking about it, I think you have a hole in your argument. UGA is a University, not a venue designed to cater to it’s members. It’s purpose is to educate. Augusta National is a Country Club with the sole purpose of catering to it’s members and anyone who visits. There is a big difference there.

    I think they could do more at UGA to be more patron friendly, but IMO they could never have the same budget per patron as the Masters does and therefore could never have the same experience.

    • Jack Klompus

      BTW- That wasn’t meant to sound as altruistic as it reads. I get the dynamics of 2014 and the role that College Football plays at the University and the money that it brings in.

    • Exactly how does UGA educate me and the thousands (many of whom did not attend) who shell out money to attend the games?

      UGA is a university with an academic mission. UGAA has a mission, too. A different mission.

      • I think the biggest driver in the difference of the mindsets of the two is one needs the money, the other doesn’t. I mean, Augusta National was willing to forego all advertising revenue for two years, their need for money is obviously much lower. When you don’t need the money, it’s easier to be fan focused. The UGAA has to stretch their dollars across all sports, only two of which contribute positively, not just one event. If The Masters was having to subsidize 20 other golf tournaments a year that were money losers, my guess is that those sandwiches would cost a good bit more, among other ways they’d be trying to squeeze extra money out of your wallet.

        All that being said, there’s no reason UGA can’t do at least a little more than they do. I’m just saying that it’s easier to be fan focused when you’re planning the Masters from a budgetary standpoint.

        • When you don’t need the money, it’s easier to be fan focused.

          Really? I’d argue the opposite.

          • I see your viewpoint, if you don’t need the money, then what does it matter if the fans come, have fun, want to come back, etc or not?

            Let me re-word it, it’s easier to have a goal of providing a world class fan experience if money is not an issue. Not that every organization would make that their goal even if money weren’t an issue for them, but it’s easier to make that your goal if you’re in Augusta National’s position than compared to a University’s AA that has to worry about a lot of things other than just the football games.

            But again, I would agree that UGA could make it their goal to at least make things a little better, even if it’s not feasible to provide a world class fan experience.

            • I think the best way to phrase what you’re saying is that it’s easier to provide a world class sporting experience if providing a world class sporting experience has a greater priority than making money. Augusta National shows that those don’t have to be mutually exclusive, either.

              • Yeah, sort of. I guess more what I’m trying to say is there’s much more pressure to maximize revenue for an AA than there is for Augusta National. It’s not debatable that UGA could provide more & better amenities and still make money. It is debatable, at least in my mind, that they could provide more & better amenities and still make the same or more money.

                I don’t think anyone would argue that Augusta National is leaving money on the table, which by the way I do find to be admirable. But again when the AA has so many other areas that their budget needs to stretch to, it’s harder to make the decision to leave money on the table and focus 100% on the fan experience. I’m not trying to validate them for it, just saying I think it’s part of human psychology given the responsibilities that they have for all sports.

                • What’s it going to cost to meet with ACC and work towards better traffic management? What’s it going to cost to bring in a bunch of local kids to work football season? (My understanding is that the kids in Augusta were paid $500 for the week.) What’s it going to cost to have more restrooms on North Campus? Or more efficient trash management? Or more people keeping the bathrooms clean and organized?

                  My guess is a shitload less than an IPF. And I’d sure get a lot more out of it.

                  • Yes I agree with your last sentence, but I’ve never been one of the ones calling for an IPF. :)

                    But yes, all the things you listed, plus cutting the cost of concessions, additional infrastructure (more free parking, better concession facilities, etc), and whatever else would need to be done to try to match a similar experience. I have no idea what that total cost would be, but it would be a loss compared to current revenues. And we aren’t turning large annual profits like we once did, wasn’t last year $2 million or something like that?

                    LOL, truth is, I’m just in an argumentative mood right now. Again, I don’t diagree with you that more could be done. I just like to look at both sides of the argument, especially from the standpoint of human psychology when it comes to the decision makers. And I can see from their viewpoint why it would not be a goal to provide a Masters-like experience.

                  • DawgPhan

                    Apple, Chipotle, Whole Foods, Amazon, Google, Costco and American Express have all done extremely well, dominate their space and have done it through superior customer experience and a laser like focus on improving the experience. The money is simply a by-product of that superior experience. The idea that you can make more money by reducing the experiencing and cutting costs have driven many companies into the dirt.

                    Seems like the folks over at B-M could do well to grab a copy Danny Meyer’s Setting the Table.

                  • Debby Balcer

                    They pay minimum wage and double time when you work over 40 hours which you always do. It is two pay period situation with the 40 hour week going from Saturday to Saturday. My daughter worked the main gift shop and it i think she made about $1000.00 before taxes.

          • Yep – if the members want to monetize the Masters to the maximum, they would charge triple the prices from the badge to the pimento cheese sandwich. They could double the number of people admitted to the tournament and still be able to put on a grand event. The bottom line is that’s not what President-in-Perpetuity Robert T. Jones wanted when he built Augusta National and started the tournament. He wanted the best golf tournament in the world and he got it. I’ll also say Billy Payne has done a whale of a job as Chairman. He understands Augusta’s role in growing the game and has done in a way that would make Mr. Jones proud.

      • Jack Klompus

        UGA doesn’t educate people that come and watch their games. I never said it did.

        However, I’ll take your bait. But, let me ask this…What is the mission of UGAA (Which wouldn’t exist without UGA)? I can’t help but assume that in some way their mission is to support the overall mission of UGA. Which at the top of the pyramid is to educate.

        • Okay, now I’ll take your bait. ;)

          Maybe you were right once about that, but I think the process has been compromised so much by commercialism that the overall mission you point to is of little concern these days.

          • Jack Klompus

            Agreed, thus my comment about altruism.

            I get where you are coming from and yes, if it’s going to be a commercialized enterprise, which is the direction it’s heading, then the “experience” should be taken into account. Other schools do.

  13. I think that’s a great post. Class. UGAA could learn a lot from The Masters.

    For decades, attending a Georgia game was a class experience. In just about every way. Not anymore. Let’s be ourselves, for crying out loud. Don’t try to emulate everybody else and serve us with cheap, and mostly lousy, entertainment. Let the classy experience itself be the entertainment.

    Georgia would do well to take a lead in this direction. But they won’t.
    ~~~

  14. sUGArdaddy

    I’ve said a few things for a while:

    -remove the bleachers and put seat-backs w/ cup-holders. This would reduce the capacity, but make seats much more comfortable, and reducing the element of the drunk sitting half his cheeks in your spot. A seat number is actually a seat that only one person could sit in. I neither have to rent a seat back, carry a stadium seat, or deal with that guy with the over-sized seat-back that takes up too much room.

    -Mic the band and put speakers around the stadium like UT. I can’t get the band at home. When they play, make sure everyone can hear it.

    -Put a smaller video board in the east endzone for fans on the opposite side of the stadium to see.

    -Better videos. We give out the Peabodies. We can do better. Never show footage from losses. I don’t care how awesome the play was. Show highlights of victories over the team we are about the curb-stomp again. Remind recruits and fans that we own this team. Admittedly, the Tech highlights would get a little long.

    -Appropriate piped in music. We need more music. If you travel the SEC, we do less of it than anyone. I’m not sure that’s a good thing. Young kids like it. Clemson (and even Vandy) got bananas last year because they understand using music and videos. We need to jazz up fans and bother other teams.

    -More kiosks of food. Like cookie stands, those bavarian peanuts, and the like.

    -Better wi-fi.

    -When we’re in a commercial break, show us live TV feeds of other games. The perk of coming to the game is that you get to see football all the time and don’t have to flip back and forth. Play other games during pre-game and during halftime. You can still listen to the band and have a game on the screen with no sound.

    -Don’t do the stupid mascot deal. Utilize celebrities. Have Lady Antebellum try to throw a ball into a net, have Bubba Watson try to kick a FG, have Dominique Wilkins try to catch punts from a juggs machine. Prizes for sections or local charities if they win.

    -More screens with a live feed of the dawgs ins the restrooms and concourse areas so that if I am in line, I’m not missing the action.

    • AusDawg85

      (golf clap)

    • Good post.

      Seatbacks – double-edged sword because we have a fan base that is very willing to sit on their collective hands and chairback seats with cup holders would be good for the “wine & cheese” crowd. No way for the student section.
      Band – good suggestion that we’ve tried small the last couple of years to mixed results
      Video board on the east end zone – Yes absolutely
      Videos – love the idea of showing highlights of previous wins over the opponent and never showing plays from losses. Love the dig at Tech.
      Piped-in music – I don’t know about this one. Play well and the students are into it whether or not you play music. UF didn’t need piped in music to turn The Swamp into the most feared place in college football. LSU doesn’t need it on a Saturday night on the Bayou.
      Food – excellent suggestion
      Wi-Fi – my phone is practically dead by the end of a game and that’s without really using it. That’s the result of bad connectivity.
      Concourse screens – we still have old TVs instead of HD flat screens – please, yes.

    • Q

      I cringe every time UGA shows AJ’s catch @ CU. What a horrible game to bring up.

  15. I think there is something being missed in the comparison here and that has a lot to do with the people who attend these events. The Masters has long been considered one of the hardest and most expensive tickets in sports and this shows by the people who attend the event. The strict rules imposed by Augusta National ensure that people act a certain way, even if the beer flows freely from the concession stand. At Georgia (or any SEC stadium for that matter) you have a mix of people from different social and economic backgrounds. Combine that with large amounts of alcohol (that must be consumed in a shortened time period before walking to the stadium) and you get a group of people much more likely to throw their trash around, leave the bathrooms a mess, and cause trouble.

    Georgia could have more bathrooms and concession stands, better walkways, and more security, but at the end of the day comparing a bunch of rich people at an event that takes place all day long and is designed to be peaceful and 92,000 hot fans packed into a stadium built in 1929 is not a fair fight.

    • I think you overstate the difference in class of persons attending each event, but I do agree that the expectations for fan behavior are different, largely because The Masters is a more exclusive event.

      But I’m not trying to compare the fans at each. I’m trying to make the point that UGA could do a much better job in the fan experience department if it tried harder.

    • The base price of a Masters badge is not expensive. There’s no PSL or anything additional. The aftermarket for badges is expensive because of scarcity of supply. I guarantee you the person who sold the woman who ran across the 10th green on Saturday her ticket is not happy today because they probably just lost their tickets.

      I don’t speak for the Senator, but I think his point is that the UGAAA could learn from Augusta National how to make the fan experience better even in a very different environment.

  16. T

    This is a great discussion, I’ve been attending both for decades, The AGNC will analyze your Masters experience every day from standing in lines to bathrooms & cossessions to vantage points throughout the course, etc and make adjustments to better the experience. some costs $$$ other don’t cost a dime. In Athens the attidude is different. it seems that no one will analyze the experience. if they did traffic & restroom lines will flow better, and the restrooms would at least be clean. The commitment is there in Augusta to better your experience every time you step on the grounds, I’m not sure outside of getting my donation is the commitment there for UGAA.

  17. Bulldog Joe

    Bring the person in charge of prepping the AGNC volunteers here to UGA during football season. It would be money well-spent, if only to move the concession lines faster.

    Saturday, the lines were longer than a normal game day on the North Side.

    UGA missed out on a lot of concession revenue.

  18. stuckinred

    I’ve lived in Athens and gone to games for 30 years. I realize that makes me a newcomer around here but I’ll say that if I wasn’t lucky enough to have F-S tickets I wouldn’t go anymore. The volume of the music is awful and listening to Teenage Wasted (Baba O’Riely) right after the admonishment to not drink and drive is beyond ridiculous.

  19. Silver Britches

    I live 4 hours away. You can’t set up until 7:00, but your spot’s gone by 7:15. Traffic is an abomination. All the hotels are 2-night minimums, booked a year in advance, and they all price-gouge. You’re $500-1000 into lodging on a game weekend before you can blink.

    I have no faith in any of it improving. But I don’t plan on staying home, either. I just can’t.

    So I’m looking for a cheap travel trailer I can pull behind my truck, set up shop Friday night, then pack up and leave Sunday morning. And with the hotel prices, hell, the trailer pays for itself pretty quickly. I am aware this is a drastic step.

    But piped-in music will solve everything.

    • 69Dawg

      Good luck with the travel trailer. UGA has kicked all but the wealthy out of walking range with any RV’s. We took one for years and they finally got so far out I had to have a parking permit to get close to the stadium in my tow vehicle.

  20. Cousin Eddie

    King Morehead and Prince Adams see no problems from their Sky boxes. “Let them eat Cake.”

  21. Inspector G

    I think you’ve got a great point when comparing the two events. I have (and for a long time, mind you) pointed out several ways that the Game-day experience can be better; More tailgating access/amenities, a stadium expansion/upgrade for the facilities only. I tailgate on East Campus and I cannot complain about the traffic there, I live in Athens and am back home (Beechwood) in less than 15 minutes after I crank my car up, although I can chalk that up to having a strategic advantage of the loop and S. Lumpkin nor am I technically on ‘campus’ as most would define it. I love our spot though and the buses to and from the game are on time, and very efficient.

    The tailgating restrictions could be the most cost-effective and least effort to let go of (or a better term would be ‘improve’). I myself complain about the 7am rule and the lack of spaces on North Campus to have a proper tailgate.

    The fan attendance can be fixed with a student “show-up or will give your tickets away” approach (much like Michigan is doing). Also, winning cures EVERYTHING. So if we have more consistent 10-win seasons and games against Clemson and Notre Dame instead of Colorado School Of Mines, then I think the attendance will take care of itself.

    The one other comparison or thought I would leave you with is the experiences at other comparable SEC stadiums/towns and how they compare to UGA. Knoxville is an abomination. Compared to their set-up and traffic, we look like trailblazers. Ole Miss has great tailgating, sure…but the traffic and stadium experience is worse than UT’s. Mizzou was the best I’ve been to as far as traffic, stadium experience and ease of tailgating, but there is no where near enough hotels in Columbia to support an SEC traveling fan base.

    I think there are many improvements UGA and the City can do to make the experience at least less cumbersome for fans, but we are far, far removed from the worst.

  22. SC dawg

    Silver Britches – if you get a travel trailer for the weekend games – a good place to park for the weekend is Big Dog’s on The River – on the Atlanta Highway. It’s like a campground with river views. They provide limosine service ($20 per person) to and from the game – let you out right at the stadium and pick up there also. If you want to get in touch with them – the business is actually Big Dog’s Tire and Auto – kind of across the highway from Hobby Lobby and near Blind Pig on Atlanta Highway. His camping area is behind the business – can’t really see it from the highway. He also has a big tiki bar on the primises and sometimes has bands after game. Also has kayaking.

  23. Luther

    I’ve always wondered why UGA doesn’t spend just a little bit of time/money to work with Gwinnett County and improve the 316 trip. I’ve gone 85 and back roads through Winder, etc for the last few years because 316 is so frustrating. You would think they could pay a cop to let a few more cars go through the intersections in Lawrenceville.

    • stuckinred

      “The Georgia Department of Transportation is changing two existing intersections of the heavily traveled SR 316 into one interchange. The traffic lights will be removed, and the area will be an exit or interchange with exit ramps like the other exits along SR 316 closer to Atlanta. However, one interchange will service both Collins Hill Road and SR 20. Upon completion, SR 316 will have limited access to exits or interchanges from west of SR 20 to Interstate 85.

      The $37.4 million construction project includes 2.23 miles of new roadway and two new bridges over SR 316. The project completion date is December 31, 2014. “

  24. Tom

    To me, this is about expectations and the perceptions of those putting on the event. What does the UGAA think their fans want for a better experience? They think they are coming close to fulfilling those expectations.
    What does the Masters committee think their fans want? They think they are fulfilling those expectations.
    It seems as if The Masters has a better understanding of what their patrons want then does the UGAA.

  25. cube

    ANGC highest priority – long term health of club and tournament

    UGA AA highest priority – short term profit margin

    • Excellent point, but I’ll take it one step further. I’m willing to pay more for a better fan experience in the stadium. If the UGA AA let the band play, put some live “look ins” from other games, showed more replays and got rid of the advertising at every time-out, I think 50,000 season ticket holders would pay extra to cover the “short term profit margin.” If they ran stats and other scores across the ribbons instead of ads, I would pay extra. If the lack of cell coverage didn’t sap the battery in my phone by the end of the game, I would pay some extra for a technology upgrade around Sanford. I’m an easy guy to please especially when it comes to my favorite pastime – Georgia Saturdays in the fall.

      • DawgPhan

        So you would pay extra for all those things, but not a dime extra to help student athletes. Gotcha.

        • What part of full-cost scholarships and the ability to profit from likeness and name do you not understand? Yes, I’m willing to pay for a full-cost scholarship including a stipend. I don’t support pay-for-play because I really do think it changes college sports in a very negative way.

  26. Ron

    Excellent post and spot on.

  27. jeff

    Great post here, Senator. Agree 1000%. I am beyond disgusted with the lack of foresight by our administration.

  28. cbauga

    Does it boil down to a privately run business vs a government run entity?

  29. All is good in Augusta. But don’t key your cell phone in the food service area. I know somebody who gave their passes to a trusted friend. The next time his feet hit the ground, he was in the parking lot. The phone was in the possession of the Master’s security. It was mailed to his home, snail mail. The owners of the passes were alarmed when a courier appeared at their doorstep that night with a letter from the COB of Augusta National, the passes that had been in their family for 40 years were permanently revoked. This year a 23 year old patron jumped the ropes, fully clothed, I assure you that those passes were revoked by midnight as well. And you compare the two environments? You complain of inadequate bandwidth? Augusta doesn’t give a damn about bandwidth. Run on the playing field, you just will not come back, ever. Did anyone who trashed North Campus have their viewing privileges revoked? I think not. Did anyone who stormed the field following the Tennessee victory have their future tickets revoked? I think not.

    The whole North campus issue was brought about by the relocation of the Lumpkin Greek houses. With no place to party close to the game day environment, the N. Campus became target. No pledges were sent on Sunday AM to clean the mess as was tradition when the houses were active. Yes, all actions have a reaction. Something that Czar Adams never learned.

  30. I went to my first Masters this year. This post is timed so well, because while at the Masters I thought it was the most orderly, well organized, enjoyable sporting event I’ve ever attended. I’ve dedicated years and tens of thousands of dollars to Georgia football, but the quality of the experience has been downgraded and it wasn’t until this weekend in Augusta that I realized it.

    I literally thought, “I didn’t know a sporting event could be like this.”

    To be fair, every sporting event I go to will suck in comparison now, but most of the crap we put up with on a typical gameday is because of a complete lack of vision or even prioritizing the necessity of a vision for gameday.

  31. Deutschland Domiciliary Dog

    While y’all were going to G-Day and The Masters, my family was traveling between Basel, Switzerland, and Antalya, Turkey (a “small” resort town; it’s actually about the size of Miami or Fort Lauderdale), for a conference.

    We had the same sort of Publix verses Winn-Dixie experience many of you describe.

    My 14-year-old son and I flew Turkish Airlines. Turkish Airlines offered outstanding and superb customer service.

    First, we were offered Turkish Delight shortly after takeoff. Then substantial meals of Turkish meatballs and peas, salads, and deserts. Drinks, including Turkish beer and wine, were free.

    That’s even though we were seated in economy class.

    On the other hand, my wife and 16-year-old daughter flew a bargain airline. Not only did they pay more for their tickets, meals were extra and at premium prices (12 Euros for a dinner, no drinks: about $16.00 US).

    Next time we fly, guess which airline we’ll look to book first?