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Post More details on Reed Alley plans

Tuesday November 17, 2009

We’ve mentioned that the Athletic Board recently approved going ahead with the Reed Alley project, and the ABH has more details in today’s paper.

By next football season, dingy Reed Alley beside Sanford Stadium could look more like the plaza at Atlanta’s Turner Field, with dozens of new restrooms and concession areas and giant TV screens so fans can buy a snack and still see what’s happening on the football field.

The project could start after graduation in May and be done in time for the 2010 season.

Reed Alley concept

Post Sanford renovations get the go-ahead

Saturday August 13, 2022

The Board of Regents gave final approval for improvements to Sanford Stadium announced earlier this year. Most of the work will target the south side of the stadium – reconfigured gate access, wider 100-level concourses, and better restrooms. The second phase of the project will move the press box to a new facility in the southwest corner of the stadium, reclaim the current press box for premium seating, and add new suites. While the southern approach to the stadium from Sanford Drive will look quite different, the improvements will be welcome in one of the most constricted and underserved areas of the stadium. With Reed Alley providing breathing room for the north stands and the east side opened up by Gate 6, this project will tackle the biggest remaining area that needs more space.

One detail that raised some eyebrows was the addition of temporary gates on the south end of the bridge. It’s fantastic that there will be more entry points, but does it mean that the bridge will only be open to ticketed people on gameday? That would require some additional reconfiguration of Gate 2 and access to the north side of the stadium for the large number of fans walking from South Campus. It would also cut off access to the bookstore, student center, and Tate plaza for fans funneling in from the east and south parts of campus. Yes, you could redirect that foot traffic down Lumpkin Street, but that’s pretty far our of the way with greater elevation changes. The bridge isn’t just part of the iconic view from inside the stadium; it’s also a hub of movement and gathering on game day. It will be worth watching this area as the designs evolve. Some sort of corridor across the bridge needs to be a part of the plan.

I believe this project might eventually have a side effect related to another story from earlier in the year. In the spring we learned that there would be no alcohol sales in Sanford Stadium in 2022. Other Georgia venues from Stegeman Coliseum to the softball and baseball fields began selling beer this past year. From my visits to those venues, it didn’t seem like a big deal. We’ve also seen alcohol sales at other SEC football stadiums, and, again, no big deal. I don’t think anyone making the decisions at Georgia is opposed to alcohol sales at Sanford Stadium.

It’s more likely that the delay in selling alcohol at Sanford Stadium has to do with limited space in key areas of the stadium – particularly on the south side. It’s a constraint we pointed out right away since the SEC loosened its restrictions in 2019. Adding beer lines to the already-cramped concourses would invite disaster and make the game experience even less enjoyable for fans. I don’t particularly care if fans want to waste time in line for a beer. I do care about main walkways or even other concessions being choked off by those lines.

With expanded southside concourses and an opened-up Gate 9 area, there will be room for standalone beer stations on all sides of the stadium. Reed Alley on the north side has plenty of space. The Gate 6 area can work for the east stands. Once this project has been completed I think we’ll see Georgia move forward with alcohol sales at Sanford Stadium.

Post Want a beer? Get in line now.

Wednesday May 29, 2019

So the SEC is going to review its “decades-old bylaw prohibiting member schools from selling alcohol” at this week’s spring meetings in Destin.

I’m not opposed to the idea of alcohol sales in the stadium, but can Sanford Stadium handle it? I don’t mean the patrons; I’m talking about the neglected infrastructure of areas of the stadium that haven’t been touched since the East stands were added in 1981. I’m trying to visualize how the already-overcrowded concourses of Sanford Stadium would handle beer lines. Navigating the tight East or South concourses for concessions (or anything, really) is already bad enough.

If the plan involves placing beer sales in more open areas in Reed Alley, around Gates 6 and 7, or the West endzone, fine. But this is about revenue, so the temptation won’t be to limit the number of taps or place the majority of them away from where most fans are seated. I have no doubt alcohol sales will happen sooner than later, but I’m going to be very interested in how Georgia implements it. Getting it wrong could be just one more reason to stay at home and enjoy the cold ones from the fridge.

Post Sanford improves concessions process – but not pricing

Wednesday August 29, 2018

The West endzone will be the most visible change for Sanford Stadium visitors this season, but fans can expect other improvements in and around the stadium intended to improve the fan experience.

Marc Weiszer has a piece up spotlighting some of the new processes and facilities that should improve the concessions inside the stadium. The West endzone project itself adds new points of sale (and restrooms), and we’ll see more Masters-style “grab and go” stations.

A variation of this “grab and go” system was introduced in Stegeman Coliseum last season, and it made a big difference. Line length even at peak times was shortened, and you were usually through the line within a minute or two. I hope fans at Sanford Stadium notice a similar improvement. Weiszer also mentions some of the technology they’re testing. I’m less enthusiastic about that, but I appreciate the effort and the goal to improve our time inside the stadium.

It’s unfair to compare Sanford Stadium with newer professional stadiums. Sanford is constrained in several directions by the campus, and most of it was built when “fan experience” related only to how well things were going Between the Hedges. The footprint of Mercedes-Benz Stadium is massive – even 25% larger than the Georgia Dome. That’s not due to a big difference in capacity; it’s wider concourses, more open gathering space, nearly 50% more points of sale, and more fan amenities. UGA has maximized the space in Reed Alley, the Gate 6 area, and now the West endzone, but that’s nothing next to what’s possible designing a modern stadium from scratch. Georgia’s improvements to Sanford Stadium will have to continue to be incremental. The kind of process review that led to the “grab and go” system is a creative way to get more out of limited space.

But while Georgia might be making it easier to get concessions, I haven’t seen anything about pricing. Several teams, some within our own state, are leading an intiative to make concessions prices more reasonable. The twist is that they’re seeing increased revenue and happier customers after lowering prices.

If you’ve been to an event at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, you’ve noticed the prices for basic concessions. Sure, you’ll pay $8 for a Fox Bros. sandwich or a craft beer, but a bottle of water is $2. Same for a basic hot dog, pretzel, or popcorn. This “fan first” pricing was a big part of the buildup to the opening of the stadium. The Hawks will have a similar pricing plan in the refurbished Philips Arena.

It’s not a money-losing proposition either. The Falcons found that with more options and reasonable prices fans came into the stadium earlier and spent more. I found that to be my experience at a couple of events at the Benz – I was much more likely to grab an extra bottle of water or two during a game. It’s gone over well – so well that the Falcons and Mercedes-Benz Stadium are going even further for the 2018 season.

Now some colleges are beginning to roll out similar pricing schemes. Texas will introduce new pricing this year with most items ranging between $3 and $5. Ole Miss dropped prices for basketball last season. Mississippi State joined in with a big price drop this summer with many items now $2. Georgia Tech is offering 20% discounts on concessions to season ticket holders.

Even though Georgia might be limited in the points of sale it can add in Sanford Stadium, pricing is one thing they could look at for the next round of fan experience improvements. It’s not without precedent here – Georgia halved the pregame price of water for last season’s opener to encourage fans to arrive early on a hot day and continue into the stadium from the Dawg Walk. That was thoughtful and appreciated. The Dawg Walk seems to occur earlier and earlier each season, and it’s to the program’s benefit to have a large crowd at Dawg Walk that wants to transition into the stadium well before kickoff.

Post At least no one is suggesting cowbells

Wednesday February 26, 2014

The issue of attendance – especially student attendance – seems to be on a lot of minds. We’ve been critical of student support for the football team, and we’ve been encouraged by some of the steps taken. The school has reduced the size of the student section but also introduced a well-received Young Alumni program to help bridge the transition from student to a lifelong fan.

But the issues of attendance persist. It’s not just a Georgia problem. Games are all televised now, and often there are one or two games that are as compelling (or more so) than the one going on in town. It’s tough to drag someone away from the HDTV, climate-controlled environment, and refreshments to sit in the elements with spotty cell coverage for four hours. Short of playing the game in the backyard, you’re not going to overcome the advantages of watching from home. The in-person experience needs to press its own advantages rather than trying to duplicate the amenities of home.

Granted, it’s a tough problem. The macro nation-wide trends aren’t going away anytime soon. I have to question the wisdom of any program investing in additional seating in this reality. We know why they’re doing it, but the arms race doesn’t make much financial sense in the short or long term. That’s not to argue against facilities improvements that address the fan experience (see Gate 6 or Reed Alley); you just can’t convince me that more seats is a good idea for anyone right now.

So faced with the job of trying to swim against the current, I don’t blame administrators for taking small bites around the edges. It’s not a problem that’s going to be solved in one swallow. Some of these ideas will be minor successes, and some will prove to be horrible.

This doesn’t seem like one of the good ideas. SEC rules have been relaxed to allow schools to pump in music between plays. Schools may already use recorded music during breaks; we’ve seen that at Sanford Stadium for years. The relaxed rules would apply, say, before a big third down play.

SEC administrators, including Georgia’s Greg McGarity, are optimistic about this rules change creating “more excitement across the conference” and enhancing the fan experience. Is this really what’s been missing from Georgia home games? Is the jock jam genre the siren song that will fill the student section?

McGarity cites the Clemson game last year. I admit that I wasn’t paying much attention to the in-game experience around me. There was a matter of a close game of national importance between two highly-ranked rivals to keep my focus. You know what really got the Clemson crowd going? Watching the team ride a bus around the stadium and rub a rock. Has Georgia considered exploring the entire spectrum of human-rock contact in order to fill and engage the stadium? Whatever Georgia is lacking relative to Clemson didn’t seem to detract from the experience against LSU. On the other hand, when you welcome three non-conference cupcakes to Sanford Stadium, anything short of a live Outkast concert isn’t going to bring people in.

As a former Redcoat, I admit that a large part of my concern here is the marginalization of a great spirit organization. The band is no small budget item – both in terms of its expense and also the opportunity cost of several hundred unsold seats. In this day of the arms race and the number crunchers, every dollar is on the table. I should note though that the athletic association (not to mention Coach Richt) has consistently been a big supporter in both words and funds of the Redcoats, and I’m assured that the Redcoats have a place at the table in these discussions to improve the in-game experience at Sanford Stadium. They too have a duty to keep their stands repertoire fresh and entertaining, and they’ve done so over the past several seasons. You never get optimistic when it looks as if the consultants are in charge, but it looks as if we’ll see Georgia try to take advantage of this new rule.

Post Indoor practice facility agitprop

Thursday March 28, 2013

Georgia’s lack of an indoor practice facility seems to come up every few years – usually when weather has forced a change of plans for the football team. It’s back in the news this spring after two events. First, Aaron Murray’s spring break work at Oklahoma left him impressed with the Sooners’ facility. That, and a little rough early spring weather, led to a lighthearted (and unsanctioned) PR campaign last week.

Then on Saturday, stormy weather forced Georgia to postpone a scheduled spring scrimmage to Tuesday. That’s no big deal, but several important recruits were in town to observe the scrimmage. The canceled scrimmage changed the day’s plans which gave coaches more time to meet with prospects in person but also took away the central attraction of the day for some. When a prospect remarked ($) that “they need an indoor facility,” fans reacted to a disapproving comment from a recruit and joined the call for a facility.

If you’re one of the people wanting this done yesterday, the good news is that the project might soon be in reach. If you’ve thought of an indoor facility as a waste of good money, the good news is that the price tag need not be as steep as we thought a few years ago.

An indoor facility has been in the works since the Donnan years. It was one of the first things Richt talked about when he got to Georgia. We hear every so often that it’s in the works and a top priority, but here we are a decade later still without one. The same points come up each time, so hopefully a little Q&A will cover most of the background – what’s involved with an indoor facility, why after all this time is Georgia without one, and what would it take to make it happen?

Does Georgia really need an indoor facility?

Depending on whom you ask, an indoor facility is anything from an immediate need costing Georgia recruits and precious practice time to an extravagant monument to the excesses of college football. I think it comes down squarely in the “nice to have” category. Yes, it’s inconvenient to alter the practice schedule, especially during the tight timetable in the season when lost days can’t be made up. It’s also unfortunate to disappoint recruits who might’ve been looking forward to watching a practice.

Recruiting ends up being one of the biggest reasons to have an indoor facility. They’re supposedly heavy artillery in the facilities arms race, and being able to hook up a game console to the display inside your facility is all part of the package designed to impress and awe prospective players. Schools still manage to sign highly-ranked classes without such a facility, but we can’t deny the wow factor.

The actual usefulness to a team is less clear. There’s one obvious use case: practicing during bad weather. There will be other uses – individual workouts, a site to host Pro Day, and even other teams can take cover there. Reality seems to be that the facilities don’t get used as much as we’d expect.

UGA officials have talked about building an indoor practice facility for years, but when UGA administrators toured other universities that have such indoor facilities, they found that the schools’ football teams rarely used the expensive buildings. Instead, the biggest user seemed to be the schools’ track teams, said UGA athletic director Damon Evans. “Football hardly ever utilized the facility,” Evans told the board of directors of the athletic association.

So there’s a cost / benefit analysis to be done. A lot of other programs have decided that what few benefits come from a facility are worth the costs. Of course some of these programs haven’t been the best stewards of their checkbooks.

If there’s even a small need and most other schools have one, why doesn’t Georgia have one yet?

Short answer: given the scope of what Georgia planned for its indoor facility (more on that below), there have been higher priorities for its capital budget. The athletic association has responsibilities to all of its programs, and we’ve seen some impressive projects like the $30 million Coliseum Training Facility. Even when it comes to football, other projects have been more important since Mark Richt became coach. There have been very visible projects like an expanded Sanford Stadium and some improvements out of the public eye like improved outdoor practice fields.

Most recently the athletic association completed a $40 million expansion of the Butts-Mehre facility that primarily benefits the football program. When it came down to it, Mark Richt supported this expansion over a separate football facility.

After seeing other schools’ facilities, UGA football coach Mark Richt said he’d rather have the Butts-Mehre expansion than the indoor football field, said UGA President Michael Adams, who also is chairman of the athletic association board.

What’s the big deal? How much could it cost to put a roof over a practice field?

An “indoor facility” can can cover anything from a simple $6-7 million covered field like Georgia Tech just built to a $26 million facility at Michigan. The range comes from what you want out of the building. Putting a roof over 120 yards of turf is relatively inexpensive. It’s when you think bigger that the price tag goes up.

Georgia and Mark Richt think bigger. Even nine years ago, Richt had a pretty clear vision of a multi-use facility that would be far more than just a covered field.

Richt spoke in detail about a comprehensive facility that he said would include an indoor track and would benefit other teams and the band during inclement weather….It would include a weight room on the bottom floor, administrative offices on the second floor and a third-floor dining hall that would be part of the university dining system.

As you can imagine, that kind of building wouldn’t come cheap. Texas A&M completed a nice facility in 2008 that combined an indoor practice facility with an indoor track at a cost of $35 million. Georgia has braced itself for a big-ticket facility for a while.

Athletic officials considered an indoor facility more than four years ago when Jim Donnan was coaching the Bulldogs. The pricetag then was in the $25 to $30 million range. The cost now would be significantly higher especially with the scope of the project that Richt talked about.

Wait – didn’t we just build an indoor something or other?

Sort of. That $40 million improvement and expansion of the Butts-Mehre building took care of a lot of needs. The weight room was addressed. There’s a lot more meeting and office space. There’s even a large turf-covered area that can be used for walk-throughs and can be re-purposed for large gatherings. The only things it isn’t: a full-length covered field and an indoor track.

I can’t see Georgia throwing away a $40 million project just to build it all over again in a standalone football facility. The good news is that the Butts-Mehre expansion allows the scope – and cost – of an indoor practice facility to be pared back to something that’s more likely to get done sooner than later. Schools like Auburn, Clemson, and Virginia have all recently unveiled new facilities that came in under $20 million.

The bad news is that it might require going back to the drawing board. Georgia’s ambitious facility has been the plan for over a decade now. Would the stakeholders (especially Coach Richt) support a facility that’s pared down to “only” an indoor field? Would the athletic association open the wallet for something that’s not exactly multi-use and might exclude an indoor track? Those discussions to revise the existing plans need to take place before Georgia can start building.

Even so, isn’t Georgia sitting on a pile of cash? Why are they being so stingy?

It’s true – Georgia has about $68 million in reserve funds as of last fall. That doesn’t mean that it’s idle cash. It’s foremost a safety net against any kind of downturn. Properly invested, reserves can also provide interest income to cover some of the minor upkeep projects that we hear about every year.

With annual expenses now over $88 million, the current reserves are about 80% of a year’s spending. That might seem like a lot, but let’s consider the Tennessee situation: the perfect storm of a poor economy, declining support of a poor flagship football program, hefty buyouts for coaches, and $200 million in debt has led to reserves dipping under $2 million and an operating deficit. Georgia’s not nearly in that situation, but it’s not hard to imagine the strain a sustained downturn in football could put on the bottom line.

It’s worth mentioning again that Georgia hasn’t avoided spending on facilities projects. From the 600 level and Reed Alley at Sanford Stadium to the Coliseum Training Facility to the Butts-Mehre expansion, there have been several high-dollar additions and improvements. There are even more smaller projects like the Stegeman Coliseum renovation and new scoreboards. Annual expenses have gone from around $72 million in 2010 to $88 million now. Good financial management isn’t a bad thing.

Where would it go?

Location matters, and that’s been at the heart of some of the decisions that have been made. Real estate is limited in and around the Vince Dooley Athletic Complex. Building a full-length indoor field in that area would require the expensive relocation of something like Foley Field or the Spec Towns Track, or it would cost the football program at least one of its four outdoor practice fields. Losing an outdoor field isn’t optimal, and it’s one of the reasons why the Butts-Mehre expansion only included a short stub of indoor turf – there just wasn’t the room to go bigger.

Most plans then call for any new facility to be built out on South Milledge by the soccer and softball complex. Though the hilly terrain out there would add to the site preparation costs, there’s plenty of room for a facility and parking (even for scooters!). The downside is that the remote location reduces the utility of an indoor facility. A practice couldn’t just be relocated next door for inclement weather – there would be the same logistical steps as there are now when a practice gets moved to the Ramsey Center. The facility would be several miles away from training areas, the main football offices, and all of the other amenities added to Butts-Mehre.

TL;DR: So what’s the outlook?

If you’d like to see an indoor facility, the good news is that there aren’t many higher priorities remaining. There’s a $5 million plan for Foley Field, but that’s already in the fundraising stage. Sanford Stadium won’t be expanded any time soon, but it could always use some improvements. As far as major capital projects (>$10 million) go, the indoor facility looks to be next in line.

Because of the Butts-Mehre expansion, we expect plans for this football facility to be scaled back to a building that could come in around $15 million. That does mean starting from square one and a revision to the master plan, and that will take some high-level approval from the athletics board before we even draw up plans. They don’t exactly meet every week, so it could be later this year for an indoor facility to become an agenda item.

Location seems locked in on South Milledge. That will give the building all of the room it needs, but it will also isolate it from the rest of the football facilities and make it slightly less useful than a building that’s adjacent to the existing practice fields. That’s the trade-off of getting all of the other items on the wish list.

The final hurdle will be fundraising. The athletic association isn’t eager to increase its debt load, so most – if not all – of the money for this facility would come from private sources. With that in mind, a $15 million target looks a lot more attainable than $30-40 million. Still want an indoor practice facility? Send that check to 1 Selig Circle…

Post McGarity reflects on Year 1 – what’s next?

Friday June 24, 2011

Greg McGarity took some time with the Red & Black to reflect on the “blur” that was his first year as Georgia’s athletics director. McGarity still has a lot he wants to get done, but he explained that his focus coming in was to emphasize a culture of “accountability, integrity and honesty and transparency in everything we did.”

It’s much too soon for many of McGarity’s actions to have much impact on the field or in the classroom. The academic performance of Georgia’ student-athletes has been strong for some time now, and he’ll do well to sustain or even slightly improve that area. The most recent APR numbers demonstrate that the emphasis on academic success remains as strong as ever. Georgia maintained its strong financial position, but it would have been hard to derail that train. McGarity does seem a little more willing to spend and invest some of the program’s surplus.

A new head coach for volleyball last December was McGarity’s first and only high-profile change directly affecting one of Georgia’s programs. There have been other decisions and changes which might not bear the stamp of the athletic director but with which he was probably involved. The overhaul of conditioning and nutrition for Georgia football is almost certainly one of those changes. Those changes weren’t just limited to football; the department will invest over $700,000 in “student-athlete welfare” programs and personnel.

All in all, it’s a relatively stable time for the athletic department, and that’s a welcome change from last summer. Of course there’s some tension around Mark Richt and the future of the football program, but that’s an issue that won’t come to a head for several months, and we hope it never has to come up at all. With the program financially and academically sound and McGarity’s foundation pretty well established, he can start looking at other areas of his agenda.

One of those areas might be facilities. Georgia announced its most recent facilites master plan in 2008. Some of those projects have already been completed. Football fans enjoyed Reed Alley last season – a major improvement for fans on the north side of the stadium. The transformation of Stegeman Coliseum last year was stunning, and Georgia got a big impact without having to build a new arena. Most recently the expansion of the Butts-Mehre facility allowed the football program some elbow room, provided a high-tech showpiece for the program, and provided some much-needed upgrades in the weight room and film room.

Those projects and the master plan all came on or were begun on Damon Evans’ watch. Throw in the impressive practice facility for basketball and gymnastics, and Georgia had quite a number of major capital facilities projects over the past couple of years which are now just wrapping up under McGarity. Before we pass the torch to McGarity and urge him to move on to the next big facilities project, all of the new buildings and improvements left the program with quite a bit of debt. That was part of the plan, but it’s also something you don’t shrug off even with Georgia’s strong financial standing.

Of course facilities projects don’t always involved big, hairy multi-million dollar construction work. There are always maintenence and small improvements, and the current budget includes a few of those. We saw chairbacks installed at Foley last year. There will be an upgraded video display at Sanford Stadium this year, and the Coliseum is also getting some A/V work. But there is a pause in major projects, and that’s probably for the best. There’s only so much debt the athletic department can take on, and there is no magical raising of that debt ceiling. The Athletic Association’s debt as of a year ago was around $95 million.

Other than those ongoing improvements and tweaks each year, we might have to wait a while to see where McGarity will take Georgia’s facilities. But as the debt begins to be paid off, we can turn our eye to other projects on that 2008 master plan. The expansion of Sanford Stadium jumps out. We’ve been over the pros and cons of expansion, but now doesn’t seem to be the right time. Unfortunately that’s mainly due to a football product that isn’t as in demand as it was three years ago, and the program plays its highest-profile games elsewhere. There just isn’t the motivation or pressure to expand now. The future of Foley Field is also an interesting topic. It’s been 20 years since the last major work on the baseball facility, and it’s not among the SEC’s best.

With Sanford expansion talk cooling down, the project always near the top of the football fan’s wish list is the indoor facility. One thing the Butts-Mehre expansion didn’t include was a full-blown indoor practice facility. Yes, there’s a small covered turf area where the team could feasibly walk through some drills in a pinch. No one is confusing it with a substitute practice field where the day’s work can be done. For fans it’s a no-brainer. [rival] has one, so we must. The debate about whether such a facility is a priority is a whole other topic, but it’s there on the master plan, so we’ll have to talk about it eventually.

One thing we do know is that Richt has been consistent about the building being more than a roof over a practice field:

Richt clearly wants to sell the project as being more than a place for the football team to practice a few times a year. He said there would be a 300-meter track around the field for indoor meets. The dining room would be used by regular students. Tailgating and other game-day activities would be held there, too.

The price tag for such a facility 5-10 years ago was around $30 million. We assume it might be higher now, but how much higher depends on how badly construction and related firms need the work in the current economy. Still, it’s a significant project at any time as the Coliseum facility was. A few recent projects at other schools show the spectrum of what can be done for a certain price point. Tech’s basic roof-over-a-field facility will cost only $6-7 million with at least half of that coming from private funds. Oklahoma State’s more ambitious facility will cost around $16 million and will be paid for with a private donation. Auburn likewise is working on a $16 million facility.

Would Georgia need the extras that would make its facility cost twice as much? The indoor track and related amenities are important features that most of these other football-only facilities won’t have, so yes – there would be a higher cost. But much of the reception space, offices, and other elements of the original design are included in the Butts-Mehre expansion. There just isn’t the need anymore for a grand football palace since we already more or less have one along E. Rutherford St.

Greg McGarity has had plenty to do just getting his team in place and running over the past year. There’s no question he’s willing to put the people and resources behind a worthwhile project, but it would be interesting to hear his thoughts on the future of some of these facilities projects as well as Georgia’s debt outlook. If we look to his experience at Florida as we have on several other topics, it’s worthwhile to note that the Gators are one of the few other major programs around the region that have, so far, avoided participating in the indoor practice facility arms race.

Post Roundup of changes Georgia fans can expect in Athens

Thursday September 2, 2010

The biggest changes for many of us will be the new tailgating rules that were announced back in the spring. The Banner-Herald has a front-page story today as a reminder of the new rules. Many expect the rules to all but kill off tailgating on North Campus, but it will be a while before the impact is felt. With the first two home games kicking off before 12:30, tailgating will be subdued anyway. Any evaluation of the new rules made before the Tennessee game will be very premature.

For those tailgating elsewhere on campus, they’ll still be affected by several new rules:

  • No pull-behind items (trailers, cookers, etc.)
  • No golf carts or ATVs
  • No parking on sidewalks (expanded to include Carlton St.)
  • The ban on setting up tailgates (tents, tables, etc.) in parking spaces will be reemphasized, to include those areas controlled by the Athletic Association.

Fans with any questions about tailgating rules, parking, or traffic plans should visit the Gameday Gameplan site.

Construction will affect two permitted campus lots. Hull Street will be temporarily closed from Baxter Street to Florida Avenue, and the Baxter Lot can only be accessed through the East Hull lot. The Physical Plant lot is being repaired, but no spaces will be lost…you’ll just be in a work zone.

Once at the stadium, fans on the north side won’t be able to miss the new Reed Plaza. We’ve talked about the Reed Alley project many times here over the past couple of years, and now this facility eight years in the making is finally available for fans to enjoy. Access to the stadium from the Gate 2 area around the curve of the north stands will be improved.

Regrettable vendor choices aside, the new Reed Plaza and its 30,000 square feet should be at least as big a shot in the arm to the north side of the stadium as the reconstructed Gate 6 project was a few years ago. It’s just more of everything – more space, more restrooms, more concessions options, and did I mention more space? Though the project will be dedicated on Friday, sources in Athens are telling us that some finishing touches might not be in place in time for the opener. Regardless, the plaza will be open and usable on game day.

Once inside the stadium, fans will have access to a new text message system to deal with everything from unruly fans to medical emergencies. If you need help inside the stadium, text DAWGS, the issue, and your location to 69050. There was an interesting post on the DawgVent a few weeks back about enhanced cell coverage inside the stadium from many of the major providers…I’ll believe it when I can send a text out.

Post UGAAA board keeps WLOCP in Jax and approves two facilities projects

Wednesday September 23, 2009

The big news would have been a decision to disrupt the tradition of the Georgia-Florida game in Jacksonville, but the UGA Athletic Association Board of Directors approved Damon Evans’ recommendation to negotiate for a continuation of the series at its current location through 2016.

The ABH also notes via its Twitter feed that “the team will begin flying direct from Athens to Jacksonville,” cutting out the bus trip to Atlanta and making the overall trip that much shorter.

In addition to the WLOCP news, funds were approved “to develop plans for two facility enhancement projects.” Both fit into a master plan outlined by the Athens Banner-Herald a year ago.

Basketball fans will be glad to hear that one of the projects was “a Stegeman Coliseum concourse renovation and expansion.” Anyone who’s been inside the Coliseum could tell you how badly this project is needed. The inside seating area has been addressed over the years and isn’t all that bad, but the concourse and entryway haven’t received much more than a coat of paint and new signage. The rationale behind the project is laid out well by PWD here – note the use of glass walls in the conceptual drawings that will widen and brighten up the concourses.

The project is also a sign that a tear-down or major renovation of Stegeman isn’t coming any time soon, but we knew that. This news follows through on Dennis Felton’s claims last year that “Damon Evans wants to renovate Stegeman sooner rather than later.”

The other project is “a project behind the north stands of Sanford Stadium that would provide a multi-function amenity supporting both the game day event and the campus on non-event days.” The idea of “Reed Alley” has been talked about for over seven years now, and it was part of the plans for the 600-level expansion of Sanford Stadium earlier this decade. The idea involves improving the area between the stadium and Reed Hall, using it as a wide pedestrian mall connecting East Campus Rd. and the Tate Center during the 359 days without football, and then using it as a wide open lower-level concourse on game days with vendors and such. The 600 level was built with this area in mind, and this project will be finishing off the vision.

Reed Alley
Location of Reed Alley