Gator chomping stadium capacity

Here’s a very interesting Q&A with Florida AD Scott Stricklin.  It delves pretty deeply into his thinking on the future of his school’s home seating.

Stricklin: Under the current setup of the stadium on the seat map, there needs to be a way when the student walks into the stadium, this is where I can go. If they just had general admission seats, they’d be walking into reserve seating sections, because the student section is kind of meandering if you go across the seat map. We need a defined student section like we have in basketball. If you come, ‘this lower section right here, first come, first serve. You can sit right here.’ We don’t really have a way to do that under our current configuration of our seating for football.

To come up with that, you’re looking at either fencing in their current thing which doesn’t really work or you’re having to relocate season ticket holders to locate students somewhere where you can do that. That’s not an easy fix. I think we’ll get there, but it won’t be overnight.

Sun: Do you ever think about putting them in the south end zone and putting season ticket holders in better seats?

Stricklin: We definitely have looked at that. That’s one of the things that has some potential. There’s an expense that goes along with that. For one thing you want to give the people a reward for season ticket holders and give them more room. That’s one of things we want to do is expand seat width for season ticket holders and put chair backs in where we can. We’d rather do that at one time rather than piecemeal.

Sun: At one point you said it might be 10 years before those kind of things take place. Is it still that far away?

Stricklin: I don’t think 10 years. I think we can do it in less time than that.

Hopefully less than five. I think there’s some things we can do within the seating bowl itself in a short time frame.

Sun: And that would reduce seating capacity. Do you have a number on that in mind?

Stricklin: Really don’t. We want to be north of 75,000. Essentially, we have 88,000 seats. Of those, we hold 8,000 for the visitors. The way visiting teams travel now that’s probably 5,000 seats too many so right there you get rid of 5,000 seats and you’d never miss them because visitors aren’t coming.

And I think student seating, we probably have a couple of thousand there. We could get to 80,000 real quick right there and wouldn’t impact anybody coming to the game. You haven’t touched supply and demand at that point. So if you wanted to tighten up supply and demand to make supply and demand more valuable probably between 75 (thousand) and 80. Hopefully we have a great year selling season tickets this year and we reassess that number, but based on where we’ve been the last three or four years that’s probably the number you’re looking at.

Basically, what he’s saying there is that he hopes to lop off around 12-13,000 seats, largely at the expense of student and visitor attendance.

Then, after rejecting the suggestion that the SEC should go to a nine-game conference schedule, he goes on to say this:

But we need to find a way as a league to provide more variety in our SEC schedule. It goes back to what I was talking about earlier — creating more value and interest in what you’re asking your season ticket holders to support.

I’m open for suggestions, but in a two-year period with eight home conference games every two years, seven of those eight are the same. There needs to be more rotation. Some annual games would have to go away, but there are some other great games that will come on the schedule. Auburn-Florida is a good example. We used to play every year.

Our league has so many great brands, you’re going to pick up great games. I think it’s going to be more compelling. You probably get rid of the permanent (opponents). I’m in favor of having the conversation. I don’t know what my colleagues think.

I’m sensitive to the tradition piece, but we have to do what’s best for the whole league and I don’t think we can walk on eggshells around one or two games. You think about players who are here four or five years and never see some teams.

And tops it with this.

Sun: Now that you have been around it for a couple of years, what are your thoughts on Florida-Georgia in Jacksonville?

Stricklin: Jacksonville is really unique and special. It’s something not many schools have. It would be nice to have Georgia on our campus and go to their’s, but we have to weigh that against what Jacksonville means to that series. It’s pretty important now. But you never say never.

Well, you say never as long as they’re paying you for the privilege.

Don’t look now, but this may be your future, SEC fans.  Tradition is nice, but it doesn’t pay the bills.  These guys are in a never-ending search for the last marginal dollar, wherever it takes them.

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56 Comments

Filed under Gators, Gators..., It's Just Bidness

56 responses to “Gator chomping stadium capacity

  1. I think we can all safely say that Georgia-Auburn and Alabama-Tennessee as an annual rivalry is officially on the table. I imagine the vote to scrap permanent opponents is 10-4. When push comes to shove, Tennessee may vote their own interest to 11-3.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No doubt Tennessee could swing the demise of permanent rivalries. They will cast it as a benevolent move on their part–“while we have this great tradition, our interests in keeping Alabama on the yearly schedule isn’t advanced if the conference as a whole is hurt [by us getting our asses kicked every year]”

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  2. Bulldog Joe

    Continue to disappoint on the field and the problem takes care of itself.

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    • Macallanlover

      From what I read, the FU fans and staff are pretty much declaring the 2018 season a huge victory of, almost, championship proportions. They may have been better than under McElwain, but I wouldn’t be looking to raise ticket prices anytime soon. So yeah, they can probably reduce seats but it does seem at odds with all their public outcries that “we are back”!

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  3. Athens Dog

    I’m open to more creative scheduling within the SEC. And i think he’s got the right idea about lowering capacity. We’ve all seen the stats about how many people are actually in Sanford……even when it is “sold out”

    They are currently cleaning the concrete and benches on the alumni side. Seems the better option would be to put in seats.

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  4. MDDawg

    We’re going to reduce seat capacity because people aren’t coming to the games.

    But we want to have better games so more people will want to come.

    But I don’t want to have a 9-game conference schedule.

    But I want to play more of the SEC teams, even at the expense of tradition.

    But the tradition of playing in Jacksonville is really unique and special.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 79Dawg

      Nice job, but you forgot, “we want better/more exclusive seating options so people will pay more for tickets…”

      It’s amazing how the 9-game conference schedule answer is staring all these guys in the face but they will do everything in their power to avoid it….

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  5. God Lord, UF pays its AD over a million dollars a year? And he cannot figure out how to switch season ticket seats to student seats and vice versa?

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    • Normaltown Mike

      I think he knows what he has to do….it’s coming up with $$ to do it is the part he’s hesitant to do. What does that mean? Maybe give ticket holders that move bonus priority points? Maybe they waive having to pay points for a few years? I dunno, but it sounds like he has a plan.

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  6. Stricklin is one of our biggest assets

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  7. GruvenDawg

    I can see a time when the AD here rethinks if the 600 section is needed and reducing the lower bowls by increasing seat size and permanent seat backs (at least between the 20’s).

    Nine game conference schedules, mandatory 2 P5 gams a year, and doing away with divisions while moving to pods for conferences is my new answer to everything.

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    • Jeff Sanchez

      I’d love to take down the ugly ass TEch deck.

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    • The Dawg abides

      I keep saying it, but the 600 level is where the peons will be banished to eventually. Idk if it will be all visitors, students, or entry-level season ticket holders, but any reduction in capacity will come in the form of chair back seats in the lower bowl and making one side of the 300 level a open-style luxury deck.

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  8. I could be wrong, but I seem to remember that Florida’s student section has top tier seats. Basically it stretches horizontally between the 30s rather than vertically.

    I could be wrong through. Anyone ever been there?

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  9. tbia

    Don’t forget on his variety of scheduling thing that Florida desperately wants to get rid of LSU as a permanent opponent.

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  10. Bright Idea

    So he wants to have Georgia at home with 13K less seats and we have fans who are tired of J’ville. I guess they just want those of us who prefer keeping the game in J’ville to surrender. He also wants us to quit playing Auburn every year so the Gators can have more variety on their schedule. Maybe the Gators should pull out of the SEC.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Doug

    For me, as a writer, referring to a team as a “brand” is one of those nails-on-a-blackboard words/phrases that ranks right up there with “leverage” used as a verb, “nuke-you-ler,” and improper use of the word “literally.”

    When you start referring to a program as a “brand,” even one that’s as Johnny-come-lately as UF, you’re basically telegraphing that you’ve stopped valuing its tradition, players, students, etc. and now only value it for the money that can be wrung out of it. Which, if you’ll forgive me for going full cranky-old-man here, pretty much sums up everything that’s sucking the life out of college football today.

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    • Which, if you’ll forgive me for going full cranky-old-man here, pretty much sums up everything that’s sucking the life out of college football today.

      Welcome to the party, pal.

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      • Doug

        Oh, I’ve been at the party for a while—I’m the drunk guy on the couch griping to a couple of hot but very bored-looking young women about how we need to scrap the playoff, BCS, and everything else and just go back to the days when bowls invited whoever they wanted and if we had a split national title then so be it.

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      • Governor Milledge

        Pretty sure this is Doug from Hey Jenny Slater. Would love to see Doug make a regular appearance on the Dawg blog circuit again!

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    • Hogbody Spradlin

      Well Doug, these people have been to college dontcha know. Gotta use the lingo.

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  12. Hogbody Spradlin

    How will it be until colleges want to start installing more luxury boxes at the expense of regular seats? They’re big money makers for the NFL. I can see the club level at Sanford Stadium going climate controlled luxury, and taking 10-15 lower deck rows with it.

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  13. Go Dawgs!

    Georgia moved half of the student section to the end zone during the course of one off-season because Coach Richt wanted to put crowd noise down there and realized it was dumb to put visitors down there. What exactly is the Florida braintrust doing all day, it isn’t that freaking hard?

    While we’re at it, there’s a reason you’re having trouble selling tickets, chief. Florida is the most cowardly scheduling team in the SEC, and that’s saying something. Schedule a tough home and home every once in a while and maybe people will come to your stupid stadium. Also, you DO want a nine game SEC schedule, because it will give you more tough conference games at home more often. How in the heck are these idiots getting these jobs?

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  14. TomReagan

    Tennessee crapping the bed for a decade sure won’t help the case for traditional rivalries, but I mentioned on here yesterday that keeping those games was important for this conference. I’ll never be able to get over how stupid the Big12 was to give away Oklahoma v. Nebraska. We can’t do the same with Georgia v. Auburn.

    Of course, Gator fans who lost their Auburn rivalry and picked up LSU have reason to feel differently about how the conference treats the sanctity of tradition.

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    • What tradition? Florida only played Auburn every year for 2 years … 1990 and 1991 … since college football only started in 1990 according to the booger-eating, jort-wearing lizards.

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  15. Jerry

    Just for clarification from a Gator: The east stands were the dedicated student section until the early-mid 90’s, when increased demand in the Spurrier era led to the UAA to start allotting some of these seats to alumni. It has created a haphazard arrangement for the students, who still have a large bloc of reserved seats but not in any defined section. What Stricklin is referring to is the fact that many of these alumni are now loathe to give up their seats. With regard to the Florida/Georgia game, I think the overwhelming majority of our fans like it just the way it is. He’s paying lip service when talking about a home and home I think although a 3 year rotation (home-home-Jax) has been talked about and could be pretty cool.

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  16. 3rdandGrantham

    Maybe I’m being pedantic, but when he talks about removing seats, yet doing so doesn’t affect or “touch” supply/demand because the visitor seats continues to shrink in size anyway, that absolutely affects supply and demand. They would be choosing to reduce the supply side of things in effort to increase the demand. I’m surprised he wasn’t called out on this, and he really should have been given the total BS he was spewing.

    I definitely see schools like UF, FSU, and other programs around the country with solid fan bases but not overly passionate ones continue to shrink their capacity. I think schools like UGA, Bama, TAMU, OSU, etc will fare just fine in the years ahead and will be at/near capacity most games, but that will be rarefied air as other programs will to feature large swaths of empty seats on game day.

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    • Russ

      Bama has had empty seats, and so have we. We reached peak attendance a few years back in my opinion. I think the way these ADs will move forward is to remove seats, add luxury boxes and jack up those prices. Revenue will stay the same, or maybe increase, while corporations pay the tab. You know, just like the NFL.

      You WILL be assimilated.

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      • The empty seats aren’t season ticket holders … every season ticket is sold. The problem is the 600 level. Fech doesn’t even sell their allotment in Sanford.

        The day I’m priced out of the season ticket market is likely the day I decide I have better things to do with my fall Saturdays than watch football.

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    • 79Dawg

      Of course, they also don’t want to talk about one of the reasons visitors’ seating “demand” is decreasing, namely that all the schools have decided to soak the visitors by making them pay obscene amounts for the worst seats in the stadium.
      As I have said on here several times, I am through paying $150 to sit in the corner of the upper deck – I will just get tickets online or at the game….

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  17. Brandon M

    I agree with him on more flexible/creative scheduling within the conference. Really it’s an easy fix. Go to 9 games, every school has 3 permanent rivals and the other 6 rotate. Scrap the divisions, 2 top teams at the end play in Atlanta. This is how all conferences should work so that (when) the playoff expands to 8 with Conf. Champ auto bids, you have a far lower risk of a mediocre team backing their way in.

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    • Normaltown Mike

      I’d be down for that

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    • I like the idea of 3perm-5 rotating (keeping aside the additional flexibility a 9th game could add) but building out new divisions every year by rotating 2 sets of 4-somes among two sets of 3-somes into odd/even year divisions.

      I’m not big on rematches IF it can be avoided by having 2 worthy teams that have not played in the regular season. Constructing artificial divisions that change each year helps prevent that.

      I would, however, be up for some type of override / waiver provision (assuming it could pass NCAA muster) where the conference could override the usual matchup of division winners if one division produced a real dreg of a winner. The legislation would look like this: “the 2nd place team in any division (“Team X”) shall be the title game participant if (a) Team X only has 1 conference loss AND either of the following occurs (i) the winner of the other division (“Team Y”) has two conference losses, one of which was to Team X OR (ii) Team Y has more than two conference losses. Example: pretend the divisions are aligned as they are now. The “west” finishes with LSU 7-1 with it’s only loss to 8-0 bama. Georgia wins the East at 6-2 with the loss it had to LSU but also drops another conference game. In that scenario, the override could kick in and give us Bama vs. LSU.

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      • Alternative scenarios being:
        -a 6-2 division winning Georgia did NOT play 7-1 runner up LSU= UGA advances
        -Georgia did NOT play LSU but wins the division at 5-3= override kicks in, LSU advances (rationale being that 5-3 is simply not worthy over a 7-1 runner up regardless of whether the two “contenders” to participate in the title game played each other)

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  18. If they absolutely refuse a 9th game, pods will solve this problem very easily.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. spottieottie

    Requiring two P5 opponents per year – as someone above mentioned – probably requires other conferences to do the same thing. I’m just not sure if it’s workable. In short, what team is willing to schedule a home-and-home with Alabama that’s also enough of a draw for Alabama to be interested?

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  20. I respectfully disagree with your perception of his intentions here. I think he was being pretty pragmatic about what his job is. And yes, he spoke in terms of “value,” but I didn’t read it as a money grab, just an attempt to give the fans what they want. I think it’s a little wrong-headed as for as traditional rivalries go, but what he proposes in theory I’m all for: a schedule with a lot of name brands on it.

    If I were SEC commissioner for a day, I’d make the two P5 non-conference opponents a year a rule for the only conference I could control. ESPN, the much maligned ESPN, would carry that water for us. I don’t really give a shit about SEC national championship prosperity because so far it has not included Georgia. I have no problem taking MNC’s away from the LSUs, Bamas, Auburns, and Floridas of the world. Some numbnuts chanting S-E-C

    I’ve gotten over rooting for the SEC. F@ck the SEC. To use the Kennedy expression about tax cuts, the SEC tide, whether by virtue of fate, Vince Dooley’s deal with the devil, or rank incompetence, has raised Georgia’s boat only high enough to break your heart.

    I have never gotten over 2012 – it was the worst one. Even worse than last year. It made me question everything. Richt was never the same either.

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  21. Alcoholic Genius

    Visitors aint going there cause they don’t have cut off jean hot pants and don’t want to spend money to get dirt injected under they toe nails

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