Beyond their control

UGASports asks Josh Brooks, Georgia’s Deputy Athletic Director for Operations,  the musical question “what challenge(s) do you encounter in trying to make Sanford Stadium the best possible experience for patrons?” and gets this reassuring response:

Not making an excuse, but the reality of it is we’re operating out of a stadium that broke ground in 1927, was first played in 1929, and is located in the heart of a college campus. As the stadium has been added onto over the years, logistical challenges have mounted up. For example, making all the concourses wider and adding more restrooms would fix a lot of problems; however, because of logistical constraints, we simply cannot do that. Still, we try in every way to make that experience at Sanford Stadium the best it can be—and it starts with how we treat the people in attendance.”

Ah, the old “not making an excuse” excuse.  Too bad you’re stuck with that old stadium, Dawg fans.  Still, think what you don’t get staying at home.

I think we need to primarily focus on what makes the stadium experience different than the home experience. Why try to match the home experience? You’ll never match a huge 70-inch TV in their face with replays, an announcer they can hear, and a fridge full of food. What makes the stadium experience better and different are the communal things. That’s why the band, the music, the cheers, and all are important. These are things fans don’t have access to or can’t get at home—only at the stadium. You’ll never replicate Sanford Stadium.”

That last sentence is both a blessing and a curse, and while I don’t doubt his sincerity when he says he cares, the problems with the restrooms and concessions aren’t going to magically disappear, especially in an era of rising contribution/ticket prices.  That fan-friendly cost/benefit ratio is a bitch.

All of which is my way of predicting that Brooks or his successor will one day be explaining to us why logistical challenges are behind Butts-Mehre’s decision to reduce stadium capacity.

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76 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

76 responses to “Beyond their control

  1. ChiliDawg

    It’s only a matter of time before college football teams start following the model of professional sports w/r/t new stadiums as well.

    Are you guys ready for Bank of America Park, UGA’s new off-campus stadium and retail space?

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  2. The band? From the southwest corner of the lower bowl, you can’t hear the Redcoats because of the ear-splitting music and ads being played during the 3rd TV timeout in a 5-game clock-minute span. You certainly can’t hear them while you’re standing in line for the restroom or for the $4 water bottle.

    The music? I didn’t know that was for the season ticket holder. I thought that was to keep the students there in the 2nd quarter for a noon game with Murray State and for the recruits in attendance who are more likely in the air conditioned lounge than in those seats in the west end zone.

    The best way to reenergize the fan experience? Relax the tailgating and parking rules to get people to come to Athens instead of pushing them practically to Watkinsville, Winder, and Danielsville.

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    • California dawg

      I haven’t been to Athens for a game in an embarrassingly long time, but jfc are they really pushing out parking that far?

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      • Read with your sarcasm font on.

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      • They’ve made it impossible to park without riding a bus from south campus or a walk from north of downtown.

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        • JCDawg83

          They’ve made it pretty well impossible to park for FREE close to the stadium but it’s been that way for decades now. I can’t think of a major college football stadium where there is free parking adjacent to the stadium. If you are unable or unwilling to walk a half mile to the stadium, you really have two choices. You can pony up the cash and pay for closer parking or you can stay home and watch the game on tv.

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        • The Georgia Way

          Rest assured, those buses are free to our Magill Society patrons.

          #COMMITMORETOTHEG

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      • The Georgia Way

        Rest assured, we are bringing the tailgate closer to you, California.

        #GAMEDAYGAMEPLAN #COMMITTOTHEG

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      • Gaskilldawg

        I literally walk a mile and a quarter each way between car and seat. 38 years and thousands of Hartman Fund dollars ago I walked about 500 yards each way.

        Liked by 1 person

    • ugat

      Music???? You mean that crap they insult our ears with between plays! Never forget rap ain’t music! You can’t spell crap without r-a-p!!!

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  3. JCDawg83

    Personally, I don’t find the stadium experience that bad. I go to the stadium to watch the game and experience the excitement of being there in person. I get both of those things in Sanford and really have no issue with the overall experience. I don’t view the stadium as a restaurant where I want to have dinner or some sort of luxury lounge where I can order drinks and have palatial restroom and seating facilities.

    I think there are a lot of people who cannot be made happy. Those people need to stay home and watch the game on TV. No stadium is going to satisfy them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • stoopnagle

      This is how I feel as well. If I get super thirsty, it’s a hassle but it can be timed right if you’re experienced. MBS is great and all, but I’m there for the game.

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    • Bulldawg Bill

      Amen to that, JC!! Besides, widening the corridors and increasing the restrooms in that stadium would require changing some laws of physics.

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    • Classic City Canine

      Like you, my personal experience is just fine because I don’t get food and drink. Even the restroom lines have never given me much trouble. I’m there to enjoy the excitement of watching football with 92,000 other people. It’s not a bar and grill and I don’t need it to be that way. That’s what tailgating is for. I might change my tune if I had to drive to Athens for a game, but I can walk to the stadium from my apartment so I never deal with traffic either. However, I recognize that other folks have different expectations and I would love to be a gameday experience coordinator for UGA (assuming I could pry resources from McGarity’s penny pinching hands).

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    • Cojones

      Correct! Now we need to cut out the inside-the-stadium picnics and open those areas for… ta-DAA! … … – BEER!

      Better “communal” feeling, better able to get near the Redcoats and sing the Drinking Song … … – BEER! Sloppy-hugging, beard-scratching lovin’ … … – BEER! In an old-ass stadium full of Dawg memories of past bravado and … … – BEER! Wild-ass cheering and fomentin’ with … … – BEER! Plasti-cup-swingin’, socio-lizing, freedom ringin’ … … – BEER!

      Hell, I’ll drink to that.

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    • Cynical Dawg

      I’m at a stage in life in which I refuse to pay money to be inconvenienced. That means no sitting in traffic, no waiting in line, no uncomfortable seating, no sweating in September, no standing during the game, no listening to Clem from Camilla doing an extremely poor imitation of Larry Munson, no obnoxious drunks, and no inedible stadium food. So, HELL YES, I have the best seat in the luxury box known as Section HD.

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      • Bright Idea

        My biggest gripe with the game day experience are the countless fans who do think they are in their own dens or on their own decks and they are the only ones there. I accept that I can’t bring my recliner and have my own restroom in Sanford because I’m there just for the football, but I also realize that I’m a dinosaur that understands the roadblocks that Brooks speaks of. I do agree that we have no business playing the Murray States of the world if that cramps your game day experience.

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    • Argondawg

      I get that but it would be great if my communal experience was not bracketed with dodging giant pee puddles with literally thousands of other people. That whole paragraph in the column was totally a “deal with it” mentality. It is why I only go the games that I feel are significant and give my tickets to family when it is not an interesting game. I just think the older we get and the more I have donated it would be nice not to be getting a little less every year. It is like giving just enough up til you don’t lose your shit and then you give up a little more the next year and you wake up and 30 years have gone by and all i did was give a nice sum to the university every year and give up a little comfort until I am nowhere near where I thought I would be when I graduated and started donating. The only way this model works for me at this stage in life is if we win and I mean win big.

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  4. PTC DAWG

    A few of us have tried to explain the logistics of major changes to the concourses, restrooms etc of the stadium, due to location, etc…no one wants to listen, well there it is from the school itself. I’m sure many will just Poo Poo it.

    Sanford wasn’t designed from the beginning to accommodate close to 100K fans.

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    • Tony Barnfart

      I don’t believe anybody has given a satisfactory answer as to why (logistically, not politically) Field Street cannot be incorporated “into” the Stadium on gamedays. Put a Masters tent on field street, have 5 or 6 grab-n-go options, handheld quick credit car scanners, credit card only (no bottlenecks making change), maybe turn some existing interior concession stands into bathrooms. Or……you could put a bunch of hotty-toddy-potties on field street during gameday.

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      • JCDawg83

        Too much vehicle traffic on Field St. to close it off and create a Reed Plaza type area. TV vans and trailers, support vehicles for the stadium, etc. all use Field on game days. It is also the major path for pedestrians entering the South side of the stadium. Eat before you come to the stadium, it’s a stadium on a game day, not a food court in a mall. If you can’t plan your daily eating schedule around a 3 1/2 hour window for a game, the problem isn’t the concessions at the stadium it’s a you problem.

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        • Tony Barnfart

          I personally could care less (but thanks for getting personal) about eating at the stadium, but i’m thinking about relief of the concourse that’s a stone cold clusterfuck like i’ve never seen anywhere else. I guess I should just piss my pants and be happy about it though.

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          • JCDawg83

            Intended to be the collective “you”, not personal. Concourse problem is an intractable problem with no real solution. The location of the stadium in a natural valley with campus buildings surrounding it pretty well eliminates any options for widening the concourses at the top of the 100 level. The topography also precludes allowing any entrance from the East end of the stadium so pretty much everyone on the South side of the stadium have to enter off of Field street into the concourses at the top of the 100 level. Those concourses were adequate for the stadium when the capacity was 55,000 but when it was expanded to 82,000 they became too small. The restroom issue is exactly the same issue. There is nowhere to add more restrooms without doing away with seats or other space inside the stadium.

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            • Tony Barnfart

              I hear ya…it’s just fun to discuss. I love the organic history of our stadium, how it was built in a wooded valley and how the campus grew up around it. One of the most underrated aspects is that it has to be one of the only mega-sized stadiums anywhere where one can be within 100yards +/- of the actual stadium and not even know it’s there. Except for maybe certain approaches on the unconsequential East Campus Road.

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      • The Dawg abides

        That sounds like a good idea. The only reason I can think of as to why they don’t do this is that it’s a pretty heavily trafficked lane for support vehicles and the like on game day.

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  5. Russ

    Never should have added the third deck.

    Liked by 1 person

    • stoopnagle

      The Tech Deck’s days are numbered. I don’t say this with any insider knowledge, just observing the trends in sports broadly.

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    • PTC DAWG

      Agreed, dumb idea from the beginning.

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    • It wasn’t a dumb decision at the time. The west end zone was practically a home field advantage for visiting teams before the 600 level. My tickets are toward that end, and a crowd of 8k+ on that end sucked.

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      • Gaskilldawg

        Respectfully disagree and publically stated Sanford and UGA didn’t have the room and infrastructure to handle the third deck.

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        • I’ve never been in the 600 level, but the infrastructure problems are in the 100 level which was built with 30k in mind. The concourses in the 100 level can’t even handle the crowd for graduation as I experienced in May. People in the 600 level don’t contribute to the problems in the 100 level especially on the south side. I assume they have restroom capacity and concessions. Throw in the fact that the Reed Plaza was done with the 600 level in mind.

          If the problem with the 600 level is that visiting fans don’t want to pay the same price we are charged for visiting fan tickets, I get that.

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          • Gaskilldawg

            The 600 level ticket holders enter and exit the same gates as the fans in the lower levels. Many stop at the lower level concession stands and restrooms before ascending to the heavens. Those 600 level ticket holders walk the same walkways to the gates as the other fans. Those additional fans park and compete for the same parking as the fans in the lower levels. Those ticketholders drive into and out of the campus areas on the same roads as the other fans. Many of them compete for the same tailgate spots as others.
            When we expanded we did nothing to accommodate those additional ticket holders at times when they were not seated in the third deck. Hell, we reduced parking and tailgate space while bringing in more cars and bodies.

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  6. Normaltown Mike

    I always operated from the perspective that the main reason to go to the stadium is to yell “C’mon Bobo!” ad nauseaum

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Classic City Canine

    I had a conversation with Josh Brooks about the gameday experience and he said the same thing about the stadium constraints. It’s a valid issue (although with the kind of money we have, you’d think we could afford a big overhaul of the stadium), but that just means you have to work extremely hard to maximize your existing space. Josh and the UGAA seem to use it as an excuse to tinker at the fringe when they could be straining to make the existing space more efficient (e.g. using professional food service, converting to grab-and-go items, adding portable toilet and food service options, etc.). I sensed a complacency in that conversation. It’s not that they don’t want fans to have a great experience. They’re just not motivated enough to put in the work to make that a reality. It’s like the Senator says, “Everyone has the will to win, but it’s the will to prepare that matters.”

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    • PTC DAWG

      I don’t see one off season being long enough for a “big overhaul”….it’s really not much time. Where do they play that missed year? Think of the howls from people then.

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      • Classic City Canine

        Notre Dame, Alabama, and other schools have made major revisions to their stadiums without closing them during football season. We managed the West End Zone project well enough. I’m sure we could find a way to manage around 6-7 fall Saturdays.

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  8. Mick Jagger

    Parking solution – require driver/passengers to produce a ticket (or electronic equivalent) to park on campus. We know that the trash/noise issues were caused by people just there to tailgate and not attend the game.

    And, yes, it was one hell of a mess.

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    • The parking problems started when the University under the guise of saying it was Athens-Clarke County took away the ability to park anywhere on campus even on the grass or sidewalks, and the AA took over every campus parking spot within a comfortable walk to the stadium. The university even forces on-campus resident students with valid parking permits to move their cars out of the space they’ve paid for to a remote spot on game Saturdays. For example, if your kid lives in the Reed community, she has to move her car from a safe spot close to her dorm to a spot out in the middle of nowhere and then ride the bus or walk back.

      The parking restrictions led people to tailgate on North Campus rather than out of their vehicles where they would take their own trash away. That led to the issues of garbage on North Campus. Then that resulted in Il Duce’s tailgating restrictions.

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      • jtp03

        Are there other stadiums that allow parking on sidewalks? I’ve never seen it.

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        • I have no idea about other places. I’m only going with the way things were at Georgia for years. I remember people would park on the sidewalk on Lumpkin in front of the frat houses.

          I’m not saying it was the best situation, but the stadium was built on the outskirts of campus in 1929.

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          • 92 grad

            I lived in Hill Hall in 88 and 89. It was so much fun to see all the people park anywhere they could manage to drive a vehicle. I would throw on my redcoat uniform Saturday morning and walk among the masses and had the time of my life. Back then, that’s how things were at their best. People had enough pride to take the campus over, inconvenience everyone else, and make it fun and clean up after themselves.

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            • People definitely had fun, and you’re right they cleaned up after themselves. Very different from the garbage seen piled up around campus on a game day. In school, we would tailgate at the corner of Jackson & Baldwin where we would park a couple of cars the night before. We would go have a great time, take our own garbage bags, and take the trash with us rather than leaving it in some cardboard temporary garbage can.

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      • HillDawg

        Another excuse for removing cars off the curb was safety. BS! I had been there for over 20 yeas from 8:00AM til 7:00PM and never saw any kind of accident other than stumbling drunks. I’m surprised they didn’t say it was for the little children.

        Liked by 1 person

        • G_Money

          It was after the big fire during the Auburn – LSU game – the Auburn Fire Dept couldn’t get thru to put the thing out b/c of the cars parked on the sidewalks.

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      • illinidawg

        The Feds did that for the Olympics and UGA just followed suit.

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        • I get it for the Olympics because the parking lots around campus were available. UGA followed suit for the following football season because they could. They used all of this as a way to monetize the parking lots for additional GEEF/Hartman contributions.

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      • illinidawg

        The feds stopped the parking on the curbs during the Olympics and it stuck after they were done.

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  9. FlyingPeakDawg

    What a lack of vision. As alluded to above, there is more to the game day experience than the actual stadium. Expend the area around Sanford for better tailgating, food, facilities and entertainment to take the pressure off of the need for fans to seek that when inside. Tone down the electronics inside but boost WiFi since most everyone today can choose to customize their viewing and information experience from their own phone. Emphasize the band, students, traditions and the, uh….game.

    The hardest part is getting leadership who have a clue. Recognizing that the live game day experience needs to be a completely different value proposition than sitting at home is at least a start.

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  10. Russ

    My only complaint from just about any in-game experience is the ear-splitting music piped into the stadium. And I love me some ear-splitting music, just not at my football games. Get rid of that and the enjoyment would go up noticeably for me.

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  11. ATL Dawg

    He compares Sanford Stadium to Wrigley Field. Well, they renovated the hell out of Wrigley recently. But I guess if someone brought that up, he’d just pull another bullshit excuse out of his ass.

    And given the “logistical challenges” that they don’t want to do anything about, wouldn’t it at least make sense to not have local volunteers working the concession stands? This isn’t a high school. It’s a major professional sports organization that makes a ton of profit.

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    • Bulldog Joe

      At Wrigley Field, ‘renovation’ means putting up advertising signs to take away the neighbors’ view and putting up office buildings to take away parking.

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  12. Doug

    Funny how the phrase “I’m not trying to make excuses” is somehow always followed by excuses, in much the same way that “I’m not a racist, but” is always followed by something incredibly racist.

    I wish I could have more faith that UGA won’t go the reduce-seating-and-jack-up-prices route, but if Alabama is doing it, there’s no reason McGarity won’t follow sooner or later.

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  13. willypmd

    Somehow Arthur Blank found a way to have reasonable food that isn’t outrageously priced, but I guess our old stadium demands we charge $8 for a coke.

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  14. Paul

    There is plenty that could be done. There’s just nothing they want to do. When they wanted a new end zone and locker rooms they got it done didn’t they? As long as the fans keep showing up and keep making contributions there is little motivation to do anything other than slap a coat of paint on the existing restrooms and call it a ‘renovation’ like they did a couple of years ago. Anyone remember how McGarity and company were supposedly ‘studying’ other schools and stadiums in order to improve the game day experience? What became of that? Nothing that I can tell. Remember how impressed he was with the experience at Notre Dame? McGarity said we needed to do some similar things in Athens. Did we make any changes as a result? Not that I’ve seen. Don’t worry though, I’m sure big things are coming. Major things.

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  15. I agree. Their logic is completely flawed.

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  16. CB

    “That’s why the band, the music, the cheers, and all are important.”

    Until you realize that a large percentage of our fan base thinks it’s “Who’s that coming down the track,” and are indignant that they are correct about it. Easily my biggest pet peeve about home games and the fan base in general. Long lines and high prices are par for the course imo. Not that I wouldn’t welcome a change.

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  17. tbia

    I am thinking this should be the subject of the playpen next week…throw the REAL ideas out there.

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  18. HillDawg

    During my 55 years of being a season ticket holder, I have been booted out of eight parking spaces. Started at Howell Hall and the last was at the Central Heating Plant. Have outlived all of my original tailgate friends and tried to keep the tradition going with the grandchildren, but we would all have to park somewhere near Hahira and walk or catch an unreliable bus. Now we just meet at away games. Much easier. I’ve noticed that the older I get, the farther away from the stadium I must park. I figure if I make it to 85, l’ll be required to park in Watkinsville. Game experience has always been good if you like Georgia football. Parking experience sucks. Once a year the UGA people who establish parking rules should be forced to drive to the ballgame and find a parking space. They have no idea.

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    • JCDawg83

      Increase your donation enough and you can get your original spot back.

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      • HillDawg

        If they applied and inflation factor to my 55 years I would be in good shape,too. It’s what have you done for me lately. But plan on it, big boy. If you live long enough, it will happen to you, too.

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  19. Macallanlover

    When the seating is reduced to 75K, there will be more space for wider concourses and improved bathrooms. Should also help with parking and tailgating issues. This is inevitable and should be included in long range planning or it will have to be redone. Seating demand, with the exception of that one game every two years where 150K seats won’t be enough. The trend is right in front of them, but they will continue to manage in the rear view mirror. Tickets will be much more expensive but the UHD pictures and sound will make those staying home enjoy it more.

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  20. Soccer Dawg

    I want to hear the band. My trip to Knoxville showed the proper way to make sure we ALL hear Rocky Top. Huge speakers all around the stadium pipe the band. I am in section 104. We can barely hear the band and the scrawny tin sounding speaker they try to use to pipe it to us is useless.

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  21. Salty Dawg

    Josh is full of shit just like his daddy, McGreedy. They can all go to hell for all I care.

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