Still, last week’s Blawg about UGA fans feeling taken for granted as the athletic administration asks them for more money to fund improvements for players and recruits certainly prompted a lot of discussion over long-simmering frustrations about the game day experience.
Butts-Mehre provides the comic relief with its response.
Anxious to point out that the planned renovations to the west end of Sanford aren’t strictly about the comfort of players and recruits, the athletic department sent me more details about the fan-friendly aspects, with special emphasis on a significant increase in the number of toilets for women that will be available in that end of the stadium come the 2018 season, going from 34 in the existing restrooms to 88 after the work is done. (For men, the number of toilets will increase from 47 to 50, and there will be two considered “unisex”).
It also pointed out that there will be more “points of sale” for concessions (both fixed and portable). And, of course, the new scoreboard will be 33 percent larger and there’ll be that new upper plaza for mingling, or whatever fans do in plazas.
33 percent larger! And you think Greg McGarity doesn’t care.
What he should care about is the steady drumbeat of responses King got from his first column that sounded like these.
Quite a few fans also expressed frustration with UGA’s athletic administration viewing them mainly as potential donors. Said Charles Hill: “UGA has a large fan base but they don’t treat them as an asset.”
Jay Unger, who gave up his season tickets in 2014 after 32 years of contributing, said he did so because he felt that “the fans had become low priority in the game day experience equation and my decision has been validated by a continuation of this disregard in the years since. I’m as big a fan as ever but I do it on my terms now. StubHub for a couple games and the rest from my easy chair.”
And I heard from another devoted super fan who didn’t donate to the Hartman Fund this year because of “growing frustration and dismay with the athletic department and how they don’t even care about our opinions or experiences. … I definitely still care about UGA and the athletics programs, but I’m just not emotionally invested like I used to be … and that comes from UGA not caring.”
It’s not what you want to hear as an AD, but, again, I remain skeptical there’s any real impact to this sort of apathy unless the bottom line starts to take a real hit.
That being said, for better or worse, the AJ-C isn’t a backwater, like a certain Georgia fan blog I could mention by name. It’s got a significantly sized readership, one large enough that the athletic department felt compelled to respond to King’s article. I don’t think McGarity can be shamed into making any improvements to the game day experience that he’s not inclined to pursue on his own in the first place, but I’d love to be proven wrong.
Unfortunately, I think Bill’s conclusion is an accurate summation of where most of the fan base lies.
What a wonderful part of my life the University of Georgia and its sports teams have been!
As my brother Jon, a former Redcoat, likes to say, “Once a Dawg, always a Dawg … how sweet it is!”
But, that doesn’t change the fact that I’d like to feel that we fans mean as much to the folks who run UGA’s athletic programs as pulling for the Dawgs means to us.
Sadly, I remain unconvinced on that point.
But not so unconvinced that the Hartman Fund contribution checks won’t continue to be stroked. And therein lies the key to Butts-Mehre’s success.