The walk out of Sanford Stadium after the last home game of the season would have been bad enough because of the Dawgs’ disappointing overtime loss. But it was made worse by having to gingerly step through a pool of fetid water in middle of the concourse of the north side’s lower level, apparently the result of some sort of overflow from one of the outdated and overwhelmed restrooms sitting adjacent.
To my left, someone wearing Georgia Tech colors looked down at what we were walking through and sneered, “Ah, the stench of Sanford Stadium!”
There was nothing I could say. It was embarrassing, but, unfortunately, all too typical of a facility that frequently fails to live up to the standards of the football program that calls it home.
I’ll say it again – if you want to offer fans a good enough gameday experience to make them spend their time and their hard-earned dollars getting in the car and traveling to Athens in the fall, the first step is convincing them that you really care about offering them “the best gameday experiences in the country”. And that doesn’t happen with online surveys, better stadium wi-fi or more piped-in music.
It comes with recognizing the strains put on the gameday infrastructure that have resulted from expanding the stadium capacity to 92,000+. It comes with recognizing that people prefer clean bathrooms. It comes with using professionals to staff concession stands so that delivery is more efficient allowing fans to spend more time in their seats watching the game.
It comes from making people feel like they’re getting their money’s worth every Saturday by being treated like their interest in Georgia football is the most important thing to the athletic department, instead of feeling like their interest in Georgia football is something that can be taken for granted.
In other words, even though we’re wallets, it doesn’t mean we have to be made to feel like that’s all that matters. Because eventually we’ll all come to realize there are plenty of other places we can go to be treated like that. With nicer bathrooms.