At least that’s today’s version of things.
A couple weeks ago, UGA announced a $63 million project to help the team’s gameday and recruiting experience, by building new locker rooms and a recruiting area. But the reaction from many fans was essentially: Great, but what about us?
The state of the bathrooms has been criticized, as well as long concession lines and other areas of complaint. McGarity, whose initial response when that was brought up two weeks ago didn’t please some fans, made clear Thursday that he hears them.
“It’s important to us.,” he said “We’ve made strides. Have we made enough strides, no. Is it important to us, yes. And I think the message that we’d like to convey is that it’s a huge deal for us.”
What strides have been made? McGarity said the bathrooms have been renovated over the past few years in “roughly half” of the stadium. And part of the West End project includes building four new bathrooms and newer concession areas.
But more work to other areas of the stadium needs to be done, and McGarity said that’s coming after G-Day.
“We have addressed certain areas of the stadium every year, and we still plan to do that,” McGarity said. “And what we would do is at the appropriate time, whether it’s around our next board meeting, or some point at time before that, we would let our people know what’s going on. But we usually do that kind of before the season starts, as far as what’s new at Sanford Stadium. Do we need to talk about it more? Probably so. Now that it’s become an issue for a number of people. What are our plans. Can we communicate that better, absolutely.”
McGarity pointed to some other work that’s been done for fan experience: Ceiling fans in the first-level concourses, to alleviate complaints that it was too hot in those areas. The ability to use credit cards at all concession stands, and a “grab and go” process at those concession stands, which would hopefully speed up the lines.
Out of decency, I probably should skip past the last paragraph and not mention the pathetic comparison to be made between ceiling fans for the paying customers who attend the games regularly and entirely new facilities to entertain recruits who… um, don’t, nor the pathetic band-aid McGarity’s tried to slap on poor concessions service (“hopefully” is the ginormous tell there; even McGarity isn’t trying to claim success). I guess I’m not that decent.
What’s noteworthy here is two-fold. One, that the athletic director even felt the need to revise and amend his earlier tone-deaf remarks indicates to me that there’s been more heat about the level of customer satisfaction over the stadium experience than I anticipated. Second, McGarity felt it necessary to point a finger at Butts-Mehre for doing a poor job of communicating to fans. Mea culpas from the athletics department to the fan base aren’t something you read every day. So, to everyone who’s lifted a voice and complained, my compliments.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves and start popping champagne corks just yet. Talk is cheap and doesn’t cost the reserve fund a cent. Not to mention nothing in McGarity’s remarks indicates he’s convinced of anything more than that some people are bitching. Put it this way — if you think that installing ceiling fans is a concrete solution to any of the structural problems in the game day experience that the spending on the new west end stadium project has exacerbated in the minds of the people who show up to cheer on the Dawgs, then you’re part of the problem.