The Red & Black has a story today about how nearly half of the student tickets allocated for the Arkansas game went unused. Only 10,000 out of 18,000 student tickets were used for the September 18 game.
It’s not a new development, and athletic department officials have been watching it for more than a year. Claude Felton explained, “We have data from fall last year and this year until this point. And the students that all have tickets are not all coming to the games.” New athletic director Greg McGarity nails how big of an issue this is. “We’re suffering as a program, as an institution,” McGarity said. “When we’re on TV and they show the stadium, there’s 5,000 or 6,000 empty seats — that’s embarrassing.” If you were at the Arkansas game, you know what McGarity is talking about.
Based on those observations that some student tickets go unused for every home game, Georgia will sell an additional 1,000 student tickets for the upcoming Tennessee game to underclassmen who received a split season ticket package that didn’t include the Tennessee game. The hope is to fill, or at least come closer to filling, the student sections.
It’s a short-term solution, and McGarity is already talking about revamping the student ticket process as soon as next season. His experience at Florida should help, but he also plans to study how other major programs distribute student tickets.
“The intent is to how can we provide a system that will allow enough students in to where we can manage it and know that Thursday at 5 o’clock that we have ‘x’ amount of seats left that we can either put on sale or reissue to students that didn’t qualify for tickets,” McGarity said. “How can we? That’s our challenge. So, we’re gonna benchmark other institutions to see how they do that.”
We all know the current state of the team, but the season wasn’t in the tank heading into the Arkansas game. It’s probably going to end up being the highest-profile home game of the year, but student turnout was abysmal and noticed. The students who were at the game were loud and involved as they almost always are. They helped the crowd that stayed for the entire game make a difference during Georgia’s comeback. They’re not the problem. Even with the team struggling this year, there are thousands of students who would love to go to the games, and I’m glad to see the athletic director making this issue a priority.