If you’re a Georgia fan who attends home games, you’d think this was obvious, but what do we know?
Regardless, attendance is the largest revenue source athletic departments control in the short and medium term.
But fans are simply not showing up like they used to, and most stadiums are too large for the practical reality of modern attendance trends…
In our opinion, three major factors are most responsible for the decline:
* Time – Competition for leisure time.
* Cost – The rising cost to attend.
* Benefit – The gameday experience and value proposition hasn’t kept up with the competition.
This guy has actual data to back his opinion up, too.
* In our Fan Experience study, data showed college football fans’ satisfaction correlated most closely with atmosphere (81%), followed by fan focus (64%), players (60%), and other entertainment (57%).
* Additionally, 77% of fans stated that ticket costs were the most important upfront, but 77% of the variability in overall satisfaction was actually attributed to atmosphere.
* Similar conflicts exist such as the scoreboard, replays and food and beverage, which are self-reported as a very low priority but, in reality, are at the top of the list in correlation with fan experience satisfaction.
His solutions? Obvious #1:
* Attempt to create a frictionless experience from the moment someone leaves their home until they return.
This driveway-to-driveway experience includes efforts to reduce traffic, transit, parking and unnecessary lines.
These issues are near the top of the list from our research on the real reasons people attend less.
At a minimum, the sports industry should outperform municipalities – like airports – that offer conveniences such as curbside bag check, mobile boarding passes, TSA pre-check, Clear and premium security lanes and beyond.
Turning to the home front, it’s true that UGA can’t control that entirely, but it sure could do a better job of coordinating with the ACCPD to manage traffic flow before and after games, as well as create a smoother flow on campus, both with regard to parking and stadium entry. (And if there’s any governmental pushback on helpful suggestions, a timely reminder about what a home game does for the local economy would seem appropriate.)
*** Devote resources to the cause.
With far less tickets to sell than a university, professional sports teams have roughly seven times more people in ticket sales and service.
There is a level of service that’s expected for someone’s entertainment dollar and disposable income, and universities are behind the curve.
They need to invest in people and training to fill up their buildings.
The Pac-12 created a specific department focused on fan data to help its member schools learn more about ticket-buying trends and share best practices.
For those that enjoy the traditional collegiate environment but want the atmosphere of a sold-out stadium and competitive teams, something must give.
The sights, sounds and even distractions of the pro sports experience are directly correlated with attracting new fans and filling seats.
Leveling the playing field with the home viewing experience, timely video board replays, mobile phone connectivity, better food and beverage experience — those are just a few examples of possible in-stadium improvements.
Facilitating great tailgating encourages people to come early and stay late to avoid or minimize the traffic, while at the same time lowering fans’ sensitivity to wins and losses.
We’ve discussed this previously. There’s even a local source for much of this, the Masters, which has made an art out of flooding the sporting experience with trained folks to support the fans at the event.
As far as facilitating great tailgating, that’s been a self-inflicted wound — or, perhaps more accurately, a Michael Adams-inflicted wound — that the school has done little to heal. But it’s certainly needed.
The problem we face is that while B-M is willing to devote plenty of lip service to the concept of fan friendly, in reality it feels little pressure to translate that into action because we’re buying season tickets anyway. One day, though, this mantra is going to matter, even in Athens:
In summary, give fans more value for their entertainment dollar. The competition for time and money won’t slow down.
The concern I have is that by the time the school wakes up to this, it will be hard to adjust, first, because it never conceived such a day would arrive and second, because it won’t really have a plan to survive the new reality. The lazy thing to do at that point will be to chase the easy money, which comes from two sources, big contributors and television, even harder than it does now, rest of the fan base be damned.
Which is why I’m skeptical his conclusion would do anything other than fall on deaf ears.
Fans should reach out to their favorite school and share solutions and ideas rather than complaints.
Let schools and athletic departments know what would get you back to a game, regardless of cost.
If you’re one of those who’ve already given up attending Georgia games, what would it take to get you back to one, regardless of cost? Tell us in the comments.
56 responses to ““When it comes to finances, athletic departments need butts in seats…””
Schedule decent non conference games and get rid of shit show FBS schools and non group of 5’s. Reward longevity, not just dollars. Something like crediting season ticket holders an extra 1,000 points for every year over 15 they have held tickets with a one time reinstatement. Open up 2-3 decent sized lots in the inner parts of campus to free parking on a first come first serve basis. Fire McGoofy and Deadhead.
This is BS. It’s all about better wifi………….heavy sarcasm.
In reality this is so accurate. And reflects my growing interest in watching on TV despite having been to around 250 games at Sanford. Adams started it and BM has become even more tone deaf.
I’ll be watching Mizzou from my home in Five Points…….less than a mile away. Sad
Build a user friendly “tailgating plaza” would go a long way to enhance game day.
Pave Oconee Hill Cemetery and make it a parking lot – build a spectacular tailgating park along the river and in the existing wooded area – provide shuttle service to and from the stadium.
Provide assistance getting all your shit from the parking lot to your designated spot. Have adequate restroom facilities and trash disposal areas in the park. Do that and I might consider coming back.
Without making tailgating a GREAT experience my option is the comfort of my home and big screen TV. I loved going to the games but my enjoyment really was centered around tailgating with friends and family.
If they pave over Oconee Hill Cemetery, who is going to fund the clearing out the vengeful burial ground poltergeist infestation? Ghostbusters don’t come on the cheap.
For concessions at UGA, they could probably keep the volunteers but increase ratio of the number of people that have experience in concessions. Have 1-4 people per stand that known what they are doing to direct the volunteers.
Great idea on tailgating by the river. Also, get rid of the Reed Hall mess. Used to be a great place for kids to throw the football around and, at the same time, allowed tailgating for people that took the initiative to set up there. Lot of empty tents for most games now.
Better tailgating options for folks who don’t have the disposable income to shell out for a UGA parking pass. I moved spots twice over the years and then gave up having my own tailgate altogether. 2. I like Aladawg’s idea of rewarding longevity. I had season tickets for about 22 years and only was able to make a slight seat improvement once. It won’t help me because I gave them up, but it would prevent someone from coming in with a huge one time donation and bypassing a lot of current long time donors. 3. To tag onto the Masters example, is it impossible for UGA to do something like come up with a decent pimento cheese recipe and sell sandwiches for around a buck fifty in the stadium? Give me a bucket of pimento cheese, a bunch of white bread and some paper wrappers, and I can turn out a wrapped sandwich every 10 seconds.
Make it illegal for hotels to jack up their prices on game weekends. Ot at least, get them to work out a deal that ticket holders get regular rates.
This is coming from a guy who’s in the opposite boat. I’ve never really attended before, but am toying with the idea of jumping in. I’m 5 hours away though, so lodging is the biggest friction point for me.
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“Make it illegal for hotels to jack up their prices on game weekends.”
I’m sure all of the new hotels in Athens would love that. The problem in Athens is the supply is designed for the 351 days per year, not for the 14 days (7 games x 2 nights) of the home schedule.
I get that, but this weekend, the Quality Inn University Area is $119 +tax on Friday night, and $279 +tax on Saturday night.
That’s just how hotels work everywhere. Same with flights. I’d love to get that $49 fare during Thanksgiving week. But so would everyone else, so the airlines raise the fare.
Yeah… “Make it illegal” wasn’t the best choice of words. But them working with ticket holders sure would be nice.
If you did that, then you would never get a hotel room, as doing so would only make things far, far worse. Look, I know we all love supply and demand capitalism, that is, until we are on the wrong side of it (demand side interested in limited supply), but to force businesses to scrap capitalism for your selfish desires is horrid policy.
There are only a certain number of hotel rooms in Athens. If the gov. forces hotels at the point of a gun to charge artificially lower rates, what will happen is a select few lucky ones or insiders with access to booking before the general public will gobble up all the rooms at those low rates, and then either use them for themselves or family/friends, or try and sell those reservations at, yep, you guessed it…a higher cost.
Think of it this way: I paid I believe around $450 for a Saturday night stay in downtown Athens a few years back for a home game, and our family of 5 crammed into one room while another family of 4 who traveled with us did the same. But if instead the price was artificially set at, say, $150, I absolutely would have booked two rooms (one for us, another for kids), and our friends would have done the same. Thus, the availability of rooms to others would have shrunk by 2 rooms, which again only makes the problem worse, not better.
As mentioned above, I chose my first sentence poorly. I get supply/demand, however I know that after a significant weather event, people report gas stations for “price gouging!” but when airlines and hotels triple their prices for certain events everyone just shrugs and says oh well that’s just how it is.
I don’t know a perfect solution to it. But y’all spent $1,000 on something that would normally cost you $250ish. Do that 7 times and you’re looking at $7,000 vice $1,750. That is what we call in my neck of the woods, highway robbery.
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Respectfully, you still don’t seem to understand how capitalism works,or if nothing else are applying a selfish viewpoint of it. First, nobody forced me to pay that amount; I CHOSE to pay it. And we are talking about a social event that I certainly didn’t have to attend; it was a fun splurge for us. I also wasn’t looking to do this 7 occasions either; this was a 1 time a year thing, and I had other options to see the game if I didn’t want to pay that amount (watch the game at home, in a bar, etc.)
Next, as I stated earlier, everyone loves capitalism…until they find themselves on the wrong side of it. Then suddenly some people find it unfair and want daddy gov. to step in and make things ‘fair’. When you buy something at a huge discount (say, shoes, car, house, lawnmower, hotel room….whatever), in which someone took a huge hit or loss on that item, do you offer to pay full price anyway out of fairness? If not, you’re being hypocritical in your overall stance.
I’ve paid $500 for 1 night at a Marriott Courtyard and have stayed in corner suite a Four Seasons for $125. For me to scream highway robbery at Marriott while gleefully throwing down next to nothing to stay at a 5 star resort suite that typically runs $700+ a night would be shortsighted in the very least, if not again blatantly hypocritical.
Lastly, you didn’t address the fact that, if you use the force of the gov. to push prices down, you are only going to make things far worse, not better. Again, people will either buy more of that item selfishly for their family/friends to consume, or simply turn around and sell those items at a similar markup. At that point, you then would scream for gov. to put a cap on prices of private citizen sales (or eliminate them altogether), and at point you pretty much have communism on your hands.
I think he apologized for his choice of words. He didn’t need the additional lecture. Respectfully, by the way.
My reply had nothing to do with his original choice of words, but instead his most recent follow up.
I’m intimately familiar with how it all works. So yeah, I guess it is selfish of me to not want to pay triple the price of one thing in order to enjoy something that’s tied with it. I don’t know who gladly enjoys doing that. Those “discounts” you scored were available precisely because of what we’re talking about. They’re not selling at losses but making up for them with volume.
I offered up an idea of working out deals for ticket holders. How about getting someone? the AA? to work together with the hotels on something that is mutually beneficial to both parties. Which is probably not even feasible, I don’t know. But maybe say hey, let’s offer up a package deal of one room at regular price per x number of tickets. Is that not something that’s worth exploring? I’m just brainstorming here.
You’re in cybersecurity right? I sent you an email a while back after a thread where you mentioned that. I take it you didn’t get it?
Anyhow… I obviously glossed over the “regardless of cost” portion in the post, so all of this has really been contrary to the original point. Sorry for taking up the bandwidth Senator.
Here’s the flaw in your logic, though – they’re not marking the rooms up to a point where the hotel has empty rooms on game weekends. Or, if they are, then those rooms are pretty small in number and the profit on all of the occupied rooms more than makes up for the lack of revenue from the empty rooms. Point being – why would any hotel voluntarily charge less for something that they can charge more for and sell the same # of rooms? What benefit do they gain from doing that?
I hear ya, the rooms are ridiculously expensive and I’m lucky to only live a little over an hour away from Athens. But there’s just no reason for the hotels to charge less on game weekends when they know they’ll be 98% occupied.
Hmm, I don’t believe so, but let me check my folders now.
As someone who let their season tickets go, I can say all the Athletic Department did was continue to send me a packet for a few years. They never once asked why I quit contributing to the Hartman Fund or why I no longer bought tickets. No calls, no emails. As a consumer I have no other option but to believe they don’t care. Before you ask, we were contributing at levels far above the minimum. We had enough cumulative points that we were moved to better seats on the alumni side several years before we decided to let them lapse. We were far from major contributors but we weren’t chump change either.
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Your experience is completely unsatisfactory and embarrassing.
I work for the University and never fail to thank donors and often refer to the Masters “model” when giving out swag (literally, a new coffee mug on my desk that I won in a raffle that was later replaced) or an extra little access (like maybe access to an indoor bathroom on Game Days) or services.
We all know what a despicable human being I am based on my history of posts but goddamn, realize people take their hard-earned money out of their pocket for our University.
I think they missed a big one for this list and that is game start times. When I first started going to UGA game you got your schedule with start times before the first game. So you could actually plan in advance what you were going to do on a given weekend. Now it is next to impossible to know before the Sunday night or Monday morning before the game. Not good especially for young families that have to secure a sitter or for those that are trying to tie the game into another outing.
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Good point. Unfortunately, TV rules.
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While I agree with you I think the SEC has more leverage than they are currently utilizing. After all they have more of the games, that more of the viewing audiences want to see.
I still attend games but not all of them, mainly due to my kids’ sports on Saturdays but there have been games where that’s not an issue and I’ve chosen to stay home. Typically for two reasons – weak opponents and limited tailgating options.
I get that scheduling has gotten better, but we still have FCS teams on our schedule just about every year. I just have little interest in watching us pound Murray State and Austin Peay. There should be enough Group of 5 schools out there that we can schedule to at least make the matchup somewhat interesting.
For tailgating, it’s simple – either go back to the way we used to do it before Adams changed everything OR some modified version of it.
The concessions are still not great, although they have improved. Frankly I don’t see how Sanford could ever have beer/alcohol sales with our current way of doing things, which is why I’m glad they didn’t jump in this year like other schools have.
Show us the controversial replays like they did in Jax. I find it ludicrous that we can’t see what the TV viewers can see just to save some refs feelings. That’d be a cheap start on improving the fan experience. No doubt that TV ruling the roost has damaged attendance for several reasons.
“In summary, give fans more value for their entertainment dollar. The competition for time and money won’t slow down.”
This is where me/my family are at. For us (and most friends/family/colleagues we know), it’s not a money issue, but rather an issue of, will this significant time an hassle investment be worth it in the end. I suspect many of you also are in the same boat. Either that or I guess I’m a snob or something.
I’m more than happy to splurge on tickets for more (if not far more) than face value for good seats. But if that also means sitting in unforgiving traffic to/from the game, having 1/3 of your designated seat or more invaded by some 250 lb slob next to you who is sweating Jim Beam and screaming for more toss sweeps, and all the rest, then forget it (not to mention weather issues, absurd down time due to all the TV time outs, crowded restrooms and concessions that the Bangladesh gov. would condemn, etc.)
Attending a UGA home game means investing an entire Saturday to the event, which is a tough pill to swallow when you have kids, great fall weather most of the year, chores at home, and other games of note you’d like to catch a glimpse of. I can enjoy all the trappings of comfort at home and watch a UGA game on TV in under 2 hours (I typically DVR, then play catch up and filter through all the commercials). This, compared to investing 10+ hours and all the hassles that come with it, make it a pretty easy decision for me in the end.
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It sounds to me like you don’t enjoy going to the game enough to put forth the effort it takes. I’m not criticizing you, I feel the same way about other entertainment options. Some of the things you would like to see changed are beyond the control of the university, the AA and the city of Athens. It sounds to me you don’t enjoy the game day experience in Athens enough to put forth the effort required to attend and that is perfectly fine, everyone has the freedom to decide how they want to spend their leisure time. I imagine if the university would airlift your vehicle to a parking lot near the stadium where you had ample space to tailgate, put you in a seat with a back and arms that was wide enough to be comfortable in an area of the stadium with food, drink and a private restroom and airlift you back home after the game for the same price you were paying before, you would enjoy going to the game. Since none of that is going to happen, you should probably watch from home. Again, no judgement and no criticism.
I enjoy going to the games. I pay for a parking spot in a lot off campus with other people and we have a nice tailgate. I enjoy waking around downtown and campus before the games and I like seeing people I haven’t seen in a while. The game itself is fine for me. I don’t go to the stadium to eat or drink and if I need to use a restroom, one is available. I accept I will have to wait in a line for food, drink or restroom, that is part of being in a stadium with a large crowd. There are long lines for restrooms at the Masters too and I don’t spend enough time in a restroom to feel like I need to demand it be anything more than functional. Traffic in and out of town is not something I love but Athens game day traffic is a delight compared to Clemson, Columbia, Jacksonville and any Atlanta major sporting event.
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Sorry for the redundancy on the “don’t enjoy going enough to put forth the effort”, got distracted and had to come back and pick up where I had left off.
Great thoughts, and perhaps you’re right: the act of setting aside time to get to the event along with some of the hassles perhaps – for me anyway – isn’t worth it in the end. And I’ll admit I’m not totally consumed by UGA football as I was 10-15 years ago either, and as time goes by my interest continues to lean towards hobbies and other things I can actually control.
Yours is a logical analysis. I infer that you determine that there is value to the experience to attending the games that comes with costs. Those costs are the direct monetary cost of tickets, hotel, gas, etc., and opportunity costs, which would be giving up the enjoyment of other things you can do away from Sanford Stadium. You determined that the monetary and opportunity costs exceeds the value of attending. Perfectly logical approach. The UGA AA cannot affect the opportunity cost and really is unable to affect the monetary costs too much (I know it can reduce ticket prices and contribution requirements but it cannot reduce gas prices of hotel rates.) The only way the UGA AA is going to change your decision is to increase the value to you of being there.
You mentioned the drunk squeezing in by you. That is why the NFL and MLB model is to build stadiua with decreased seating capacity but each seat be a more premium experience. UGA’s plan was to build another dek to stuff more people into the same footprint.
There’s too much here to even get started. I haven’t been in 7 years but used to never miss a game. My most memorable experience was getting together with out of town friends and tail gaiting. This was largely reduced to opening the back of a few SUVs towards the end due to logistics and restrictions.
I would complain about the $500 in lodging, but this is something of a luxury in my mind as I can typically travel. Except for the disaster that is getting out of town; it literally adds too much time. Staying downtown is certainly easier, but everything is too crowded to really enjoy too much after the game. I don’t consider downtown after the game part of any meaningful Athens experience.
Despite very minor upgrades, I was pissing in the same bowl and eating the same county fair hot dogs and popcorn as someone attending in the 1970s. What’s worse, everyone working there seems to be part of some embedded mafia that are passively not going to speed anything up at best, hostile at worst. They would rather not be there. Everything is dirty to boot.
The bottom line is the only fan experience is being in and around campus on game day unless you are a big donor. I have sat in box seats, club seats and tail gated in the good parking; I cannot purposefully budget for what this costs. Especially considering I can have friends over for great food at my house.
Fan Experience can definitely improve in many ways to make this friction-less as pointed out. My big gripes:
Getting out of Athens after the game is often a nightmare, other cities do this much better with city cooperation
Beer sales at game would reduce the need from “front loading”… Vandy and UT had long lines, but it was nice to get a halftime beer while enjoying the game (easy to manage under the scoreboard, next to Reed plaza, and other locations)
Bathroom situation has improved but could be better
Stadium entry seems to be more complex this year, not sure why compared to previous years
Longevity bonus would be nice, but since it is all about the money, really don’t see this happening
Have a solution besides the how did we do buttons at concession stands.
A lot of these issues are not as easy as you all think they are,but the problem is the UGA seems to never do the difficult stuff it takes to solve them, and in some cases the clientele share the blame. Traffic for one. Honestly, not sure what solutions are better postgame. The plan is to get people away from the stadium. There is a big circle around Athens. If you have to go 15 miles out of the way, so be it. But the calamity of opening everything up would be much worse. As far as incoming, again what do you do. I would counter that 80% or more of the mess is caused by people coming in that have no earthly idea what the hell they are doing….no research, no backup plan, nothing. Bobby told me to park here so that’s where we’re headed, rules be damned. I guarantee you my party spends 15 minutes each game sitting behind cars discussing with police officers why they cant park or go somewhere.
Create more and better tailgating. OK, where? The cemetery idea is never gonna happen.
WiFi has become the punchline, but it does need to improve.
Concessions. Become Mercedes-Benz. Selfserve, grab and go….cheap.
This is my 35th, and last year, with season tickets. I worked an extra year to keep my f/s seats, mostly for Notre dame, and now that I’m retired it’s a done deal. I’m going to follow the wisdom here and hustle for games I really want to go to. I hate to stop going because I know that once you do at my age it will be hard to start again.
Points of emphasis, through the 80’s and 90’s tail gating was a face of life around the campus. We parked in open free lots on River Road had plenty of space always cooked out either before 3:30 or after if the 12:00 game. Walked frat row, even enjoyed bus rides for a time. Always had to walk back….. but it was pleasant trip..
Met new folks, actually a social activity. There were no motor home parks they parked in the same lots we did.
We always carried trash bags and cleaned up our tailgate spot. Then during the Adam year and for give me but it was a 12:00 game I think. North campus was trashed, UGA complained. I never ever saw any trash cans in our lots, not one ! Then it was like we are gonna shut down tail gating…… Parking Garages, Pay Lots, even the land out on the by pass was sold and a motor home park ( ehhh owned by former UGA player and company ) so motor homes were excluded off campus ( no matter I wouldn’t have one if I could afford one ). This wasn’t even a steady drip but the powers that BE cut the experience out completely.
We were middle of the road donors. Never got tickets to away games. They were nice seats between the goal posts lower level in the East End Zone.
All in all it was a nice experience to drive 4-1/2 hours, the concession was crap and the lines were long in the restrooms. So not much has changed. I don’t care about wi-fi, I don’t care about $12 luke warm beer.
I left in 1999 season tickets for the year 2000 and I-have been back but it’s been with connections through other SEC schools athletic departments strength or weight coaches, assistant coaches and friends. It’s sad that other SEC schools are more courteous than the UGA ticket office and administration.
I have had enough, yea I guess you could say back in the good old days….. but the Experience is over for me and my family and loads of our friends. Sadly if the game is worth anything I choose to listen on the radio. At least the commercials are local and I am subjugated to the idiotic mindless ones on TV ( 4 hours worth ) and have to see endless replays of what has already happened while two farts and a lady gab endlessly over the next game and what others scores are. Hell, I can read scroll the scores on the side, split the screen ( commercials ) and let the game go. Like him or not and I admit at the time I didn’t appreciate him, Keith Jackson. He let the game take place and he interrupted only with commentary when he made the game even better.
The UGA experience has now become the WalMart experience. Cheap goods, no help and lines because they don’t wanna hire cashiers and don’t have enough express checkouts ……. pretty soon the Powers that will will have the K-mart shopping experience.
There is a cause to part of your soliloquy that I am shocked has never become public knowledge.
Prior to the no trash can thing, and it WAS a real thing, there was a UGA employee who started a company and won the rights to provide the cardboard trash cans that are on campus. Actually did a decent job with it for a couple of years though tailgaters grabbing them and moving them to one spot was always an issue.
Anyway, he developed a little problem at work accepting kickbacks to buy supplies from a certain vendor.
He used the check from the athletic association to hire a defense lawyer and basically never bought or placed any trash cans. Then Adams hit the damn roof and blamed everyone except him.
Some good thoughts here. Do you think McGarity reads this Blog? More importantly, do you think he takes it seriously?
I would be shocked if anyone at B-M reads GTP.
They are clearly not very good when it comes to marketing research. This blog would be a good place to start that. The best news is it wouldn’t cost them any money.
Agree – on the one hand, I can see why the Senator would say he’d be shocked if anyone at B-M reads GTP. But then again, why DON’T they, assuming they don’t?? Here is a blog who’s sole purpose is to dissect everything about the main product the AA “sells” and no one in the AA thinks it’s worth their time to read it?
I have asked specific people in BM. Their answer was “that’s just a bunch of malcontents”
I’m surprised they’ve expressed even that level of awareness.
I can tailgate at home. The social experience is not isolated to being on campus. We have friends/family over to watch games on multiple tv’s and can eat and drink whatever we want without traffic. There are no lines (usually) for the restrooms, commercial breaks are not so onerous when you are watching two or three games at a time, and you can also do other stuff the same day like kid’s football games or birthday parties. Also, we can sleep as late as we want instead of getting up at 5:30 to be at the tailgate lot by 7 am for a 7 pm kick. If I can replicate most of the fun of gameday at home with no money invested, then I would be a fool to get season tickets to sit beside the sun.
The only thing I cannot replicate is the atmosphere inside the stadium. The Redcoats and the noise and the light up Sanford stuff are cool, but I went to the Tennessee game last year, and after that CBS game where it felt like 1000 degrees with two hours of commercial breaks, I realized it just wasn’t worth the hassle. It’s a lot of effort for so little of the football atmosphere part that I cannot replicate at home. Before the game, I was planning to go to the Tech game, but when I got home after a 14-hour day, I decided $75 face value tickets for the Tech game was a bad value proposition.
A very big way that UGA could improve my tailgating experience would be to explain the law to the University of Georgia’s Police Department. No, not the tailgating rules imposed by the university which do not carry the weight of being laws, the actual freaking law. Everyone knows at this point that Michael Adams didn’t want tailgate tents to touch a blade of grass before 7:00 am. We’re all fine with it. But the amount of harassment from UGA cops that we get is ridiculous. One morning, I was wheeling my cooler and my buddy was carrying tailgate chairs along the sidewalk on Smith Street, and a UGA cop stopped my buddy and explained that he’d have to go back to his car and put his stuff up because we weren’t allowed to set up yet. The time was 6:55 am. We were carrying our personal property along a public sidewalk. The cop was trying to tell us that was something we weren’t allowed to do. Before the Arkansas State game, I had put my cooler and tailgate chair behind my friend’s car in a parking lot (he has a pass for the area where we tailgate and I do not) and I was about to drive to park when a UGA cop told us that we couldn’t unload yet. I explained the situation to her, and she insisted that I put everything back into my car. Look, officer, if I can’t set up on the grass before 7:00 am, then fine (the time was 6:50 am). But you simply can’t enforce that I can’t remove items from my car after I park it.
All that just goes back to the attitude of UGA’s police force towards fans and tailgating and the gameday experience in general. Look, I used to work with public safety and law enforcement in a non-sworn capacity. I get that it’s a long day for UGA cops and it probably isn’t always pleasant. But football and the fan experience are vital for the university, so they need to train all employees, including the gendarmes, to be as welcoming to visitors as possible,. Arrest the people who break the law. Maybe don’t harass fans (and donors!) who dare to try to walk down a public sidewalk with their belongings in their hands. It’s bad enough that you arrest our football players for ticky-tack violations, don’t screw with the alumni as well.
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Campus cops are a bunch of Barney Fifes drunk on power since someone gave them a badge and a gun. You would think for 6 or 7 days a year they could put their attitude away but you’d be wrong. In general, cops are people who like to tell other people what to do and ;have some power over other people.
The problem with the whole university rules not carrying the weight of law thing is; if you don’t follow the rules, the Keystone Cop will arrest you under the blanket “disturbing the peace” charge that basically gives cops the power to arrest anyone who argues with them or does not follow their instructions whether they are legal or not.
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This is my biggest issue with the gameday experience in Athens. While I still have season tickets and go to the games, my husband has sworn he will never set foot in Sanford Stadium again due to the rudeness and downright antagonistic behavior of the university police. (The idiot who sits behind us and repeats inane, inaccurate and offensive rants constantly while whacking us in the head every time he moves didn’t help.) The only reason he will still go to Athens at all is because he understands how much it means to me. (He spends the game at a local bar.) As a 30-year season ticket holder and attendee since the mid 1970s, I’ve watched the experience deteriorate both for tailgating and the game, and I don’t see that stopping anytime soon unless one is prepared to scratch a check for the equivalent of a vacation home. So far, I’m still going but in my heart, I know those days are numbered, which is a shame since my grandfather was one of those people described in the article about financing the stadium 90 years ago.
“…I’m skeptical his conclusion would do anything other than fall on deaf ears.”
I dunno, ADGM has some big ears. 😉 Maybe CKS has an assistant reading this blog just in case and will forward it to him.
What would it take to get me back?
In my case, there isn’t much they can do to get me back because although I am in general good health, I have bad wheels (both knees replaced which have been great, but a bad ankle which needs replacing bad, but the ortho doc has been discouraging, and I sense a bad hip coming on. Maybe I should learn to walk on my hands – my shoulders and arms are great!). That is why Jax has been so great: it is flat, almost all the parking is in walking distance even for me, and even if it wasn’t they have folks with golf carts and little trams to give you a ride. That physical layout isn’t going to be available in Athens (pave Oconee Cemetery? I don’t think so) but they could do more about transporting folks, they could upgrade the bathrooms and from my last experience they could do a LOT to improve concessions, but just don’t bother.
To be specific about concessions, I think it would be much more helpful to limit options and be better about delivering it. Price would be nice, but I am not going to dream here. In my youth, concessions were limited to hot dogs, Poss BBQ, Cokes, bags of peanuts and maybe popcorn. I am not saying it has to be that Spartan, but realistically, anything that you have to cook and prepare onsite – even with enough equipment and trained help – is going to be a bottleneck. It’s physics.
CFB is repeating the mistakes of NASCAR. When NASCAR exploded in popularity, NASCAR focus on big money sponsors and networks (I don’t fault that), but they neglected to update and improve the fan experience along the way. They even went so far as to allow Fox Sports to televise NASCAR – Fox Sports doesn’t get NASCAR, but that’s another rant. Those sponsors and big money came, because the sport delivered loyal fans. Fans are the equivalent to clicks/visitors on websites. NASCAR is now working to regain the fans to keep the big money coming in. CFB is starting to recognize their problem, but have not yet figured out the solution.
Paving the cemetery was more of a joke but on second thought there is not a thing I can think of that is a bigger waste of land.
“Country Clubs and cemeteries, the biggest wasters of prime real estate.”
Unless, of course, three generations of your family are buried there. 😉
They can maintain (or even enhance) their north campus control by treating gameday there like they would any other really big university diplomatic event. University-supplied and controlled everything, tables to tents, raised large TVs interspersed etc… let UGA food services bring gameday dining outside and create the oft-cited masters tent system.
Gives the common / over-hassled fan an awesome place to tailgate with no need for massive transport of supplies. You’d probably see more carpooling and more people willing to park&ride from the exurbs of campus/town if they had a place like that.
University can control the trash and random abandonment of large items by just controlling and streamline the whole shebang while making $ on food and alcohol… maybe partner with local restaurants too. People would happily show up with just the shirt on their back (and no shitty styrofoam coolers that become trash) if uga staffed and supplied it like an event. UGA could also better predict their own trash disposal / needs. (and no i’m not saying sell 10×10 plots to the highest bidder… just make it look like the biggest damn wedding you’ve ever seen)
I agree with the majority of the comments regarding the “fan experience”. I am a season ticket holder and have been tailgating in the same location now for 19 years. I have met dear friends and Dawg fans by staying in this location and I do treasure the tailgate with friends and family. However, as mentioned it appears the University wants to continue to push the fans away and not encourage tailgating. Examples are: overzealous campus police, no parking on sidewalk or grass areas, move the RV lot, just keep moving patrons away further and just difficult parking in general. Trashcans and port-a potties are very limited. Our area has gone from 2 port-a-potties to 1. It has become quite the grind to prepare for tailgate, leave early in the morning to setup and then deal with all of the additional UGA enforced hassles throughout the day. It would be nice to be appreciated as a fan and donor of the University with just a little bit of common courtesy. I attended LSU last year and attended the Clemson vs tech game this year and was beyond impressed on the entire “fan experience”. Both schools had large grass parking areas that were free with numerous trashcans, police who leave you alone and only present if needed, numerous bathrooms and never had to wait to use the bathroom. Clemson has now created tailgate space from the stadium to the lake (removing the baseball fields and softball fields) and it was truly an impressive fan experience. I had not been on campus since 2013 for a game. I use these two schools as an example that if you want to keep the money flowing then take care of your patrons. I too have really considered ending my tickets and only attending 1 or 2 games per year.
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I gave up my tickets February of last year, once McGarity announced (with 2 weeks notice) that tickets prices were going up for the upcoming season. I emailed him and told him then he should resign.
I’ll get tickets once again the day he’s gone. While they’re raising all this money, a better place to tailgate, a free parking lot or 2 and more comfortable seats would go a long way (none of the 3 will ever happen). I could give a damn about louder music or flashier lights. I enjoy the games but am tired of Fatty McFatterson encroaching with his fat elbow into my seat.