You mean so much to me, baby.

Give Bill King some credit.  He followed up last week’s piece exploring the fallout from the fans about the west end expansion project with another.

Still, last week’s Blawg about UGA fans feeling taken for granted as the athletic administration asks them for more money to fund improvements for players and recruits certainly prompted a lot of discussion over long-simmering frustrations about the game day experience.

Butts-Mehre provides the comic relief with its response.

Anxious to point out that the planned renovations to the west end of Sanford aren’t strictly about the comfort of players and recruits, the athletic department sent me more details about the fan-friendly aspects, with special emphasis on a significant increase in the number of toilets for women that will be available in that end of the stadium come the 2018 season, going from 34 in the existing restrooms to 88 after the work is done. (For men, the number of toilets will increase from 47 to 50, and there will be two considered “unisex”).

It also pointed out that there will be more “points of sale” for concessions (both fixed and portable). And, of course, the new scoreboard will be 33 percent larger and there’ll be that new upper plaza for mingling, or whatever fans do in plazas.

33 percent larger!  And you think Greg McGarity doesn’t care.

What he should care about is the steady drumbeat of responses King got from his first column that sounded like these.

Quite a few fans also expressed frustration with UGA’s athletic administration viewing them mainly as potential donors. Said Charles Hill: “UGA has a large fan base but they don’t treat them as an asset.”

Jay Unger, who gave up his season tickets in 2014 after 32 years of contributing, said he did so because he felt that “the fans had become low priority in the game day experience equation and my decision has been validated by a continuation of this disregard in the years since. I’m as big a fan as ever but I do it on my terms now. StubHub for a couple games and the rest from my easy chair.”

And I heard from another devoted super fan who didn’t donate to the Hartman Fund this year because of “growing frustration and dismay with the athletic department and how they don’t even care about our opinions or experiences. … I definitely still care about UGA and the athletics programs, but I’m just not emotionally invested like I used to be … and that comes from UGA not caring.”

It’s not what you want to hear as an AD, but, again, I remain skeptical there’s any real impact to this sort of apathy unless the bottom line starts to take a real hit.

That being said, for better or worse, the AJ-C isn’t a backwater, like a certain Georgia fan blog I could mention by name.  It’s got a significantly sized readership, one large enough that the athletic department felt compelled to respond to King’s article.  I don’t think McGarity can be shamed into making any improvements to the game day experience that he’s not inclined to pursue on his own in the first place, but I’d love to be proven wrong.

Unfortunately, I think Bill’s conclusion is an accurate summation of where most of the fan base lies.

What a wonderful part of my life the University of Georgia and its sports teams have been!

As my brother Jon, a former Redcoat, likes to say, “Once a Dawg, always a Dawg … how sweet it is!”

But, that doesn’t change the fact that I’d like to feel that we fans mean as much to the folks who run UGA’s athletic programs as pulling for the Dawgs means to us.

Sadly, I remain unconvinced on that point.

But not so unconvinced that the Hartman Fund contribution checks won’t continue to be stroked.  And therein lies the key to Butts-Mehre’s success.

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57 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness

57 responses to “You mean so much to me, baby.

  1. aladawg

    While I wrote a check I can say that I have given $2,600 less the last 2 years than I had been giving. We’ll see where that goes next. One thing is sure the noise is getting louder and can no longer be totally ignored. One more sub par season and the heat level will transfer from Prez Morehead and the athletic board to the Board of Regents…………..
    Of course , win the East and it’s all better Dad!

    Like

  2. Just Chuck (The Other One)

    I may have a little more incentive to come to games than some folks. My daughter lives in Athens which means I can count on a good meal either before or after the game depending on kickoff time. I have cut way back on other things I do on game day. I don’t tailgate anymore. I get to the stadium just in time for Battle Hymn. I may buy a Coke in the stadium if it’s hot. I don’t buy programs anymore. I always stay to the end of the game (Alabama in the rain being the sole exception) and I know enough about the back streets and traffic patterns in Athens to beat a lot of the traffic. The changes in my habits probably don’t affect the athletic budget too much but they may have some effect on local merchants. I keep coming to games. I keep hoping we’ll get better. I sometimes think I’m crazy.

    Like

    • Bright Idea

      Me too Chuck. I keep coming because I’m afraid I’m going to miss something great, but I seldom see anything great.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Normaltown Mike

        what about the three card monty McDonald’s commercial on the jumbotron?

        I’m c’mon man, who needs to beat Vandy or Tech when you have awesome commercials!

        Like

      • Argondawg

        And to add to this what greatness might we see this year with our biggest home games being S. Carolina, Missouri and Mississippi State? Who is not jacked up about playing them at home. It’s just god awful at this point. Oh but you got Samford and App state in there. Really an extra few grand for that shit show? I know it’s a weird home year but there are no discounts for shitty home schedules.

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        • ApalachDawg

          Thank Missouris entry into the east as we said – sure we will play auburn in back to back years at the cow pasture. Can’t make this stuff up

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        • The Georgia Way

          We expect to be in the hunt in every one of these games.

          So be prepared to remain in the stadium until 3:00pm and just like last season, you shall be rewarded with some exciting finishes!

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  3. This year was the first I really considered going to the “buy 2 games on StubHub and get the cupcakes on the bridge” approach to season tickets. It’s been very frustrating to make more than the minimum donation and see my tickets get worse after I added a 3rd ticket a few years back. Assuming things don’t change, I’m in until 2019 for ND ticket, but, in 2020 and beyond, all bets are off.

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    • Atticus

      I’ve been doing that for years. Never regretted it, its a ton of money. It will help fund college education and retirement.

      Like

      • Agree, gave up my contribution and tickets a while back. If I want to see a game, i go and buy at the gate or scalping. Have not regretted it one bit. Held those tickets for a long time, even when I lived 3,000 miles away, caught two games a year and gave the rest to relatives.
        Sit at home now and watch them play division 1-aa teams, or whatever they are called now.

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  4. MurphDawg

    Last year I dropped my seats from 4 to 2 and this year I finally decided it just wasn’t worth it. Based on our overall situation, this was the right decision although for others, it may not be. We live in Tampa now and between the mandatory hotel nights, noon kick-offs, and limited tailgating experience we have been unhappy for a couple of years. After the price and donation increases this year and being made to feel like a wallet more than a valued fan, we pulled the plug. We’ll still go to games but it won’t be the noon kick-off directional university ones.

    Like

    • Chi-town Dawg

      I did the same thing Murph – went cold turkey and dropped all 8 seats including 4 club level and a Tate parking pass. Like others, I kept hanging on telling myself things would get better with the on field performance and the pre/post-game stuff. Your comment about being made to feel like we’re nothing but a wallet as opposed to a valued fan is exactly what finally put me over the top in terms of not renewing my seats. Funny, but when UGAA called and confirmed I wasn’t renewing my tickets, they never even bothered to ask “why?”, which only validated my decision.

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      • Atticus

        Agreed I did that back in 2009. Amazing how much the money adds up. I by really good tickets for the 2 good games a year, and if I go to the lesser ones I can always get one for $20 outside. I pocket the rest and its a pile of money.

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      • MurphDawg

        Amen. They don’t care because they know someone else will buy them. The well will run dry before they realize what they’ve done.

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      • Chapindawg

        Same happened to me last year, I got one letter asking are you sure you don’t want to renew, and that was it. I had dropped parking 2 years after they kicked us off Hull St. to build a new building and moved my parking to right in from of The Steg. I could pay $40 per game to park in the deck right across the street or $2500 to be in the lot?

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  5. paul

    There are a few of us older folks here, like myself, who have let our tickets go and no longer contribute to the Hartman Fund. It feels like we’re the tip of the iceberg. At this point the athletic department can handle the churn, but that won’t last forever. Especially as more and more recent graduates decide not to participate. Let’s not forget that programs like UGA are the exception to the rule. The vast majority of schools lose money on athletics. Once you start sliding down that financial slope it will be hard to stabilize the situation. You can’t wait until the poop hits the fan to react. The powers that be inside of BM have never been known to be particularly proactive or market savvy. I think this may well be a give ’em enough rope situation.

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    • Athens Dog

      My group is turning 60 this year……we’re all on the tip you speak of. My seats are in Club……..the bathrooms and concessions suck just like everywhere else in the stadium. Tailgating is a challenge. I’m still paying but it’s harder and harder to do.

      Like

  6. Scorpio Jones, III

    You guys misunderstand the Georgia Way. Georgia cares deeply about you, depending on the size of your check. At some point, if the checks are large enough, they may even take your calls.

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    • Bulldog Joe

      Yes, we are very proud of our Hartman Fund young alumni program!

      For a slight discount on your annual contribution rate, we will mail you a decal and enter your name into a lottery for ticket applications.

      #COMMITTOTHEG

      Like

  7. Granthams replacement

    Fans become less important as the TV and sponser money grow. This year UGA will get 2/3 of the athletic revenue from non fan (tickets and Hartman fund) sources. Add in the 475 willing to pay for Jeremy Pruitt’s dream and GM doesn’t have to care about the restrooms.

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  8. 92 grad

    So, do y’all think that what appears to be resentment from the average donor regarding value is growing because the scale and number of facilities upgrade has become aggressive?

    What I’m seeing is that the long time attitude of doing very little and not much in the way of pampering our athletes and recruits was effective at keeping the “sheep” quiet. Seems like mcgarity could be caught saying something like “we will not take on any large projects because when you do people start wanting more and it gets expensive really fast” to CMR when he used to press for updates or IPF construction.

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    • Bright Idea

      Resentment from the average donor is coming from failure to win anything of significance and playing crappy home schedules. If UGA could win some big games and the SEC occasionally the bathrooms would be less of a concern. 8-5 makes the bathrooms even worse than they really are. It is just like church, when the preacher is boring the pews are too hard and the sanctuary too hot. When the preacher excels, you live with the other concerns.

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      • JCDAWG83

        ^^^This^^^ Unfortunately, the same people who are in charge of making the game day experience enjoyable are also in charge of making athletics competitive. Those people are doing a very poor job in both respects.

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  9. Silver Britches

    There was something on MGoBlog a few years back that I remembered when I read Bill’s article. I’m paraphrasing, but it essentially said, “Michigan football used to be something we all shared. Now, it’s something the University hoards – kept under lock and key and only brought out for us to to catch a glimpse of for the right price and at the right time.”

    Yep.

    Like

  10. Greg McGarity, J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics

    I see the Society of the Miserable is out in full force on this Monday morning.

    Online ticket ordering should be available in the next couple of weeks. Then you’ll have about 2 weeks to get your order in. Don’t be late.

    Like

  11. The Georgia Way

    It’s a great time to be a woman at the University of Georgia!

    We are going from 34 toilets in the existing restrooms to 88 after our west end zone work is eventually done. While most of these toilets will be for our Magill Society donors, recruiting hostesses, staff, and unisex fans, we promise to make a few available to you at no extra cost.

    Also we invite you to our new expanded upper west plaza area, where we will be able to accommodate twice as many proselytizers and UGA ticket representatives. Each will be equipped with new point-of-sale terminals for your contributions as well as the expedited purchase of their greatest insult CDs.

    So look to The University Of Georgia for your holiday gift needs!

    Like

  12. JCDAWG83

    To those who think they are making a real statement by going the Stubhub route; they need to keep in mind that the ticket on Stubhub was purchased by a Hartman fund donor. As long as the season tickets sell out BM doesn’t care who the individuals are who buy them, they only care that the donations are made and the tickets are sold. Once BM gets the money and mails the tickets to the buyer, they don’t know or care who is using the ticket.

    Until enough fans decide to forego buying tickets that BM cannot sell out the total number of season tickets, nothing is going to change. Those here who have stopped buying tickets is a first step but until there are tickets available for games through the ticket office on game day Saturday mornings, the BM crowd will not notice or care that “Mr Smith gave up his tickets of 38 years because he was unhappy with the game day experience”.

    The young alumni demographics (60+% female, more and more were not Georgia fans growing up and their parents did not attend UGA or grow up Georgia fans) combined with weak home schedules, competing leisure time interests, increased cost and the less appealing game day experience are going to create a difficult environment for BM to sell tickets in going forward. Unless the team manages a championship of some kind in the next 4-5 years, I can foresee games with quite a few empty seats in the stadium.

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    • Chi-town Dawg

      JC, I agree that empty seats and unsold tickets will get BM’s attention, but that’s a longer term scenario that may never be reached. I disagree with the StubHub comment though because as someone who (as of last season) sold my extra tickets on SH, I can assure you the ticket prices have been trending downward for most games the past 3-4 years. Unless it’s a big time game, the average fan is lucky to get face value after paying transaction fees. Even my 45 yard line UF tickets have been falling in value on SH the past few years. Also, last year 6 of us purchased Vandy seats on the lower level 10 yard line for less than face value the day of the game. If season ticket holders have to pay a greater share out of pocket due to lower resale prices, it certainly influences their buying decisions including how many tickets they renew each year. Just because you can’t see people falling into the water doesn’t mean the ice isn’t cracking.

      Liked by 1 person

      • MurphDawg

        This. We’ve absolutely noticed a downward trend in pricing on tickets we sold when we couldn’t attend games. Heck, I ended up giving away tickets to a couple of games the past two years because they didn’t sell at all.

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      • JCDAWG83

        You are missing my point. My point is; BM doesn’t care what the Stubhub price is, they got the full amount they wanted for the ticket from you. BM could not care less and probably isn’t even aware of the demand for tickets on the secondary market. The fact you get $20 each for the Vandy game tickets you have $100 each in doesn’t matter in the least to BM. As long as all season tickets sell out each year, complete with required “donation”, BM is perfectly satisfied.

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    • Macallanlover

      It isn’t just “making a statement” when you selectively choose games rather than commit to the entire season, it is getting more bang for your buck and maximizing your time/enjoyment. When I chose to leave the season ticket holder group, I got every game I preferred for fewer dollars, and with better seats. Usually you can wait until you know the kickoff time and weather.

      That doesn’t satisfy those who have the game experience ingrained in their fall schedule, but it is significantly better for those who do not want to see La Monroe at noon in early September and are completely happy to watch from the comfort of our porch with a full bar, clean restroom, our choice of food, and save several hours of drive time to watch other intereresting games. Certainly not for everyone, but it is more than a protest…it is a preferred choice. I hope UGA continues to sell out games, but for many of us it is the best way to maximize our enjoyment of every Saturday in the fall. Everybody chooses the path they prefer, there is no wrong or right.

      Like

      • Snoop Dawgy Dawg

        really and truly, this is a big part of it. I love going to games in Athens. I have for 16 years. having kids has just made the hassle of getting to athens for a noon game to watch a directional state team simply not worth the effort. I can tailgate in my backyard with friends, hire a babysitter to watch all the kids, eat, drink and be merry before during and after the game, not get absolutely scorched at the game, and still watch the many other intersectional games of the day.

        Others have hammered the issue hard, but the on-campus experience on gameday just does not entice me to go the route of season tickets.

        Like

        • ATL Dawg

          Tailgating at UGA…where you can get snapped at by a UGA police officer for putting a chair down on the precious weeds of North Campus 5 hours and 5 minutes before kickoff.

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          • Snoop Dawgy Dawg

            oh my baby sitter comment was supposed to have the foot note that I would STILL come out ahead financially.

            Agreed. The on-campus tailgate experience has just been made such that I don’t really care to go through that hassle all the time. Where I was able to tailgate from 2004-2014, in the off-season that year, they planted trees and put in flowers in the entire area that we had tailgated and made it clear, tailgaters weren’t welcome. for 12 years we and many others set up in that spot. granted, my tailgate is not the be-all, end all, but after 12 years, as far away from the stadium as it was, I still wasn’t welcome.

            That was kind of the straw that broke the camel’s back. Last year was the first year I didn’t see a game in Athens since the late 90s. Having a son in september and the home slate of games just made it less of a priority to even go for a single game. And that’s coming from someone who has been to almost all of the original 12 SEC stadiums.

            As others have mentioned, once the magic allure is lost, I don’t know how you put that genie back in the bottle.

            Like

    • ZeroPointZero

      Doesn’t UGA get a cut of the StubHub ticket sales? If so, then they are likely thrilled with the StubHub resale market.

      Like

  13. RedCoat87

    Craigslist ads posted in the visiting teams city. My parents save tons each year buying tix from other team’s fans who can’t get to Athens for the game.

    Like

  14. MGW

    The North Campus fiasco a few years back was the ultimate showing of true colors regarding the administration’s opinion of the fans. Nothing surprises me after that.

    Like

  15. DawgPhan

    So seems like there are a lot of stories of people dropping tickets this season.

    over/under on the cutoff for new renewable season tickets?

    $250?

    Like

    • MurphDawg

      That might be a little low, maybe $400? The cutoff has steadily dropped since 2010 with rapid acceleration the past few years.

      Like

      • Normaltown Mike

        it was $1,000 a couple years ago, which was an outlier I believe.

        Like

      • DawgPhan

        just some quick googling.

        2010 1507
        2011 250
        2012 250
        2013 250
        2014 1001
        2015 6701
        2016 1201
        2017 ????

        O/U at 400 seems about right. I would likely take the under.

        I suspect that the 2015 bump has to do with the young alumni program and them kicking in the donation for a lot of new buyers who seem to have quickly fallen off.

        I also would have thought that they would have gotten a pop from the Smart hire, but that didnt happen.

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        • Bulldog Joe

          When very few young alumni actually received a ticket application in return for their donations, they got wise to that Georgia Way scam.

          Like

  16. PaloAltoDog

    As everyone here knows, the game experience helps drive recruiting and also victories. We have a huge stadium in arguably the best town in the SEC and yet even when sold out it often isn’t as loud or fun as other SEC stadiums. And by loud I don’t mean a horrible sound system cranking out tunes, I mean the roar of the crowd being directed down to the field via some acoustic engineering similar to pro stadiums and/or through smart seating of the students and, let’s not forget, allowing folks to get juiced before the game via accommodating policies for tailgating.

    Like

    • JCDAWG83

      There is no way to create a loud/fun atmosphere at a noon kickoff against an uninteresting opponent. Sanford can be as loud as any place in the country if the matchup and the game is good.

      Like

  17. Russ

    I get that all the tickets are sold. However, it seems like most of the games are less than full. If I’m in B-M, I’d start to worry about that. When attendance reaches the tipping point, it will likely decline rapidly and will be hard to turn around.

    But as someone up above said, B-M has never shown much proactive behavior.

    Like

    • illini84

      ” most of the games are less than full.” Say what?

      Like

      • Snoop Dawgy Dawg

        is that an evocative statement? Seems pretty much a reality and has been for years. The rivalry, ranked matches at 330 or later tend to be full, but that’s what, 2 games a year? based on TV and ticket sales for the rest of the games, they are no where near full for those.

        Like

  18. ElectroM

    Me love you long time, Ba-Beee. You send check today.

    Like