I’m sure this will shock some of you, but count me in the easier said than done camp on management of a larger than usual G-Day crowd showing up.
It’s no small undertaking, however. To date, the largest crowd ever to attend the annual intrasquad spring game was 46,815 last year. So Smart is hoping to double that his first year.
And it hasn’t come without some hiccups. Already UGA was unable to achieve its stated goal of lining up a major musical act for pregame entertainment. Administrators reached out to several front-line stars but ultimately could not get a deal done, primarily because of the limited window of entertainment time available (roughly 15 minutes).
Instead, UGA has produced a 15-minute “behind-the-scenes” hype video that they will show on the videoboard right before kickoff.
“We didn’t know what this was going to look like and once we got the schedule and started talking about the pockets of time … we figured we had a 15-minute time span there, and it just didn’t work out,” Athletic Director Greg McGarity said. “But I think the videos will be something nobody has seen before. Our video staff does a great job with that. Really in a way it will hype the fans. The next thing that comes out of the tunnel is the team.”
The game will also represent a challenge from an event management standpoint. They obviously sold no tickets to it and admission is free. But they also didn’t issue any vouchers or distribute anything that would give organizers an idea of how many fans might actually show up.
So they’re planning for a full house. They will have every section open, all the way up to the 600 level in the upper tier, and they will be filled from the bottom up on a first-come, first-serve basis. All concessions stands and restrooms will be opened and most general game-day parking is expected to be available, though not on a reserved basis.
“It’s a lot more difficult planning for this than it is for a normal game because you (don’t) know what you have as far as numbers,” McGarity said. “So we’ve got plans in case it fills up, what do we do if it goes over the amount? So that’s how we’re planning this event. Everything is staffed at full strength. We just don’t know.”
There’s a certain sense of “what have we gotten ourselves into?” there that’s inevitable, I suppose. In a real way, G-Day is as much of a test for how the athletic department can manage heightened expectations as it is for the coaching staff. Here’s hoping for a day full of pleasant surprises.