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Post McGarity’s look at game day experience can’t stop with Sanford Stadium

Friday October 8, 2010

I think my ears are still ringing from the nonstop music blared over the Folsom Field speakers last week, so count me among the chorus of praise for Greg McGarity’s preference for a more “traditional” game atmosphere at Sanford Stadium. It’s not even so much the piped-in music – I doubt anyone is complaining about Baba O’Riley as we’re getting ready for kickoff. There are more significant problems with the announcements and commercials that drone on eating up entire breaks in the action regardless of the flow of the game at the time. I really do appreciate learning about the Thornton Melon Professor of Applied Consumer Forestry, but it’s kind of a buzzkill after a big score.

So kudos to McGarity for making this a priority. It’s attention to another detail that gives you a bit of confidence that the larger issues with the football program won’t go overlooked either.

But the biggest degradation to the game day experience has come from the combination of the early starts and the new tailgating rules. I’d throw the performance of the team in there too, but we won’t see the effects of poor play really kick in until next week. The momentum from the rivalry with Tennessee should produce a fair turnout. After that you can expect turnout to drop even with a win over the Vols. If McGarity is going to really improve the game day experience, he’s going to have to look beyond the walls of Sanford Stadium.

Of course there’s only so much McGarity can do in all of those areas. He has only macro-level control over the quality of the team. The quality of the team has much more to do with kickoff times than the influence of the athletic director, and we’re committed to early start times until the final home game of the season. And if McGarity is going to tackle the tailgating experience, he’s going to have to do it with the blessing and cooperation of the University’s administration and president. Seth Emerson reminds us that “Adams was not at Thursday’s meeting, and [tailgating] was an issue that would have to be addressed with [Adams].”

Emerson also noted a comment from Kris Durham that I hadn’t seen reported anywhere. We’ve talked about students not using all of their allocated tickets and the steps McGarity is taking to address that problem. Durham’s comment is somewhat related – the team has noticed students of road opponents getting to games early and “adding some ‘nastiness’ to the pregame atmosphere.” It’s true that the start times have pretty much killed the chances of an early-arriving crowd at Georgia, but it also doesn’t help that over 40% of the students with tickets don’t show up early, late, or at all for a big SEC game.

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