Unfortunately, McGarity and company do seem to view us fans as merely donors to be solicited continually for more money, rather than customers whose needs must be taken into account. In the wake of this week’s west end zone expansion announcement, I was pretty surprised by the way McGarity essentially blew off Seth Emerson’s question about what is going to be done about the dismal state of many of the stadium restrooms. McGarity noted that the renovation will add two men’s and two women’s restrooms in the west end, as if that somehow is going to help the thousands of folks on the north side of the stadium, where the overwhelmed facilities are just plain disgusting.
As McGarity put it: “You prioritize stuff as they become important.” And, apparently, the fans in the north stands haven’t yet reached that status.
There appears to be a basic disconnect between McGarity and many of the fans supporting UGA’s program.
And, to what should be no one’s surprise, he finds that some of the natives are getting restless.
Mike Keyes is “thinking it’s time to watch from home…..product on the field leaves a lot to be desired. That doesn’t have anything to do with my loyalty. …just a better use of money instead of the Hartman fund.” … Says Scott White: “Reality is, I’m in my 30s and I have very few peers that donate like I do. Most do the pick-and-choose approach [via Stub Hub] you spoke of [as opposed to buying season tickets], and, as time goes on, it becomes more and more appealing.” … Lindsey Kee Portmann complains: “UGA wants more and more money from its loyal fans, I love the Dawgs, but … I think they need to make some readjustments in their budget. Bathrooms need an upgrade & I think they have the cash to do it already. Stop hitting fans with it, in my opinion.” … Paul Germer says he chooses “not to purchase the below-standard food and avoid the unbelievably slow food/drink lines … the bathrooms are a joke.” … David Hubert, who says he’s a long-time season ticket holder, thinks “the fans are the least considered part if the equation. … It is just a matter of time before we drop our 50-yard-line tix in the lower bowl.”
“I love the Dawgs, but…” isn’t what you want to hear as an athletic director, but there’s a sizeable gap between words and actions and I suspect the part of the fan base McGarity counts on financially isn’t prepared to go beyond the grumbling stage yet. The sad thing is if that threshold ever does get crossed by a significant enough number, it’ll take time for Butts-Mehre to realize that and take steps to woo the departed back. At that point, better wi-fi ain’t gonna cut it.
Even assuming a turning point is possible, I’m not sure what the cause for such would be — maybe somebody organizes an effective social media campaign that rouses the fan base, maybe mediocre results on the field drive paying customers away, maybe the facilities degrade to a level similar to what used to characterize Tech’s stadium before it was renovated, I don’t know — but if the athletics administration has to deal with the fall out, is there any reason to think it’ll be any more competent in that setting than it’s been in allowing things to fester as they have?
Needless to say, Greg McGarity has a lot riding on Kirby Smart’s success. A couple of SEC championships would make it a lot easier to sweat the small stuff.
UPDATE: The sad, concise truth from the AJ-C’s Cy Brown.
McGarity, Morehead and Smart have done the simple calculus. You can build a diehard fan base with a winning football team, but you can’t build a winning football team with a diehard fan base. When you win enough games, a lot of people will be willing to put up with long lines at the urinal.