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Post And now a word from your stadium…

Friday May 29, 2009

Hi. I’m Sanford Stadium.

Sanford Stadium

You visit me six or seven times a year, and I’ve caught you driving past me on the bridge more than once just to peek inside. I’m old, but I’ve aged well and kept up with the times. Your parents or grandparents might have even introduced us.

I don’t mean to brag, but, well, I’m kind of a big deal among college football stadiums. There aren’t many bigger. My symmetrical architecture is as classic as the city I call home. (Oh, I know the new upper deck throws off the symmetry, but who doesn’t get a little out of shape as we get older?) Playing “Between the Hedges” means only one thing to college football fans. ESPN’s Doug Ward wrote,

Sanford could not have found a more idyllic setting for a college stadium; it sits squarely in the middle of Georgia’s campus, as if it were the university’s beating heart.

I’m blushing. But I’m empty for the next 106 days or so without much to do but read the news, and I have to admit I’m feeling a little jealous and unappreciated this morning.

I know the Georgia Dome is attractive, especially after its recent makeover to replace the color scheme with good ol’ red and black. There are plenty of days this time of year I wouldn’t mind some air conditioning myself. A lot of teams seem to want to play there these days, and I really hope the Dawgs get a game there in early December. I could use some more SEC championship bling.

If there’s one gripe I have, it’s that I don’t get to host a lot of interesting nonconference games. Sure, there’s been the occasional Clemson or even BYU, and I’m looking forward to seeing Arizona State this year. Yale was cool back in the day. But those are few and far between, and it’s usually the same old Directional Louisiana or cupcake teams to open the season. You and I know there’s nothing better than the UGA campus on a fall day with a big late-afternoon or night game in town.

So when I read talk about Georgia and North Carolina playing in the Dome, I have to wonder what it has that I don’t. A neutral game in Atlanta would split the tickets for a smaller stadium, so over 10,000 of my own season ticket holders would either have to scalp or stay home. Teams want to play in Atlanta to help their recruiting in Georgia, but you have an advantage they don’t. You can’t host recruits at the Dome. When Georgia plays a game here at Sanford you get to show off the whole package – stadium and all – to this state’s prospects.

Is it the home-and-home thing? I don’t mind – really! I can appreciate a good-looking stadium, and Kenan Stadium – in its own way – is supposed to be a great place to catch a game too.

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