What’s a Dawgs fan to do: Keep those Notre Dame tickets, or cash in?

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Georgia and Notre Dame will play again this season, this time in Athens. Demand for the tickets is running high.

Dawgs fans are looking forward to one of the most enticing home football schedules in years, especially with the historic appearance of Notre Dame at Sanford Stadium. But, could the high demand for that game tempt you into parting with your tickets? One fan wrestling with that decision leads off the latest installment of Junkyard Mail. …

Bill, I’ve had season tickets to Georgia football games for quite a few years and I’ve managed to keep it up, despite the increases in minimum donations and ticket prices. Last year’s lousy home schedule really had me wondering if I should keep my season tickets, but I renewed anyway. Of course, this year’s schedule is much better, but while part of me really is looking forward to seeing the Fighting Irish Between the Hedges this fall, another part of me thinks maybe I should explore selling my two lower-level tickets and just watch the game on TV, pocketing a nice payday that would come in real handy! What do you think?

— Macdawg

I’m sure you’re not the only fan thinking along those lines. Forbes magazine reported Georgia-Notre Dame may be the year’s priciest college football ticket (again, same as it was when the Dawgs invaded South Bend). The magazine said Notre Dame’s Sept. 21 visit to Georgia “is already shaping up as an all-timer from a demand standpoint. No game on the 2019 college football schedule is fetching a higher ticket price on the secondary market than the Fighting Irish’s first-ever trip to Sanford Stadium.”

Should you keep your tickets to see the Fighting Irish at Sanford Stadium, or cash in? (Perry McIntyre/UGA)

When I checked yesterday at VividSeats.com, the cheapest tickets to the game available were in Section 320, and they were $508 each. Tickets in the lower level section where I sit were going for $750 up. At the time Forbes checked for its article, of the 273 individual seats or sets of tickets for sale on Vivid Seats’ site, 115 sellers (or 42%) were asking for $1,000 or more per seat.

That shouldn’t be surprising. Ticket demand for the first half of the home-and-home series at Notre Dame was similarly high. A month before that game, the Indianapolis Business Journal reported the average price for that game was $1,655 per seat on the secondary market. Of course, that demand largely was driven by the UGA fans who took over Notre Dame Stadium. It’s doubtful that Irish fans will be traveling to Athens in anything close to the numbers of Dawgs fans who went north. Still, you could indeed pick up a bunch of cash by selling.

Of course, when I wrote a few months ago that “all of us loyal fans who’ve shelled out year after year for home schedules featuring the likes of Austin Peay, Middle Tennessee, Massachusetts, Nicholls, UL Lafayette and Louisiana-Monroe finally are getting a big payoff,” I wasn’t talking about a cash payoff. I meant finally getting a chance to see a long-desired legendary nonconference opponent in Athens.

Only you can decide whether the money would mean more to you and your family than watching what “might be the biggest game in Athens since mighty Yale visited in 1929 to christen the Bulldogs’ now-90-year-old stadium,” as Forbes put it.

So, yes, your tickets could bring you a couple of thousand bucks. But, for me, the bottom line is that Notre Dame and UGA in Athens is likely to be a once-in-a-lifetime thing for most fans. I’d say that’s priceless.

I love how coach Kirby Smart has beefed up the nonconference schedule.  Despite some fans saying it’s too much of a risk to our playoff chances, it’s a trend that I hope will spread throughout college football.  The only missing piece is 2021.  Has there been any discussions with other marquee teams to schedule a match up that year?  I’m worried it’s too late to schedule another Power 5 team with just two years notice.  Hopefully I’m wrong.

— Anthony J Fanchi

Georgia reportedly is working on a home-and-home series with an ACC team for 2027 and either 2030 or 2031, but it appears that there isn’t enough time to line up another major nonconference opponent for 2021. The only way I could see the Dawgs adding another Power 5 opponent to their 2021 schedule at this late date would be if a neutral-site game came calling. If they did, though, it would have to be for Aug. 28, as Georgia already is scheduled to play San Jose State in Athens on Sept. 4 of that year. And it wouldn’t be in Atlanta, because the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game has Alabama and Miami lined up for 2021. I’d say the chances are slim.

We have had season tickets since 1984, and have enjoyed the fact that Sanford Stadium has been alcohol-free for its entirety, with the exception of the smugglers. Let me say that we don’t drink alcohol of any kind, but anyone that does, that’s their business as long as it doesn’t affect my family and me. Adding alcohol to Sanford Stadium would open the doors to volatile situations. I don’t want alcohol spilled, poured, or thrown up on me or my family. … Also, most concession areas can’t handle what they sell now, so how many more problems would there be if that is added to the menu. I know I’m in the minority on this, but I think you and I agree on this. 

— David McLane

We partially agree. I don’t feel the need to drink alcohol at a football game, and I didn’t enjoy dealing with drunks in the days before they cracked down on bringing alcohol into the stadium, but I don’t like the idea of it being made available only to big donors, as the school currently is planning. If UGA is going to sell alcohol at Sanford Stadium, it ought to be available to anyone of legal drinking age. UGA President Jere Morehead has expressed concern over students drinking if alcohol was sold. But, let’s face it, those who want to drink already smuggle it in, or drink while tailgating. And, the experience at West Virginia, which pioneered alcohol sales, was that alcohol-related incidents in and around the stadium actually declined after beer sales in the stadium began. 

If you’re not a big-money donor, tailgating might be the best place to do your drinking. (Lauren Tolbert/UGA)

Whatever, alcohol won’t be sold in the general seating area at Sanford Stadium this year. But, Athletic Director Greg McGarity did say “we will conduct an annual review of this policy to determine if any modifications may be needed in the future.” Meanwhile, Texas A&M announced that it will sell beer and wine in general-seating areas at Kyle Field starting this fall. That makes the Aggies the first SEC program to announce that it will sell limited alcohol to the public since the SEC lifted its ban on such sales last month. Missouri looks likely to join them. Auburn, Alabama and Mississippi State have chosen not to sell alcohol in the general seating areas this season. Several schools, including LSU and Ole Miss, haven’t decided yet.

I don’t like the idea of moving the Georgia v Florida game to home and home. It would be cool to see it a Jax and ATL series. Now, that would get some attention and give UGA an extra boost to the big city recruiting. 

— Bradley Townsend

Kirby Smart’s main problem with the game being played in Jacksonville, and the reason he’d like to move the series to home-and-home, is the limitations on what the schools can do for recruiting prospects at a neutral-site game. Playing the game in Atlanta wouldn’t really solve that problem.

My wife and I have been contributors to the Hartman Fund since we returned to Georgia in 1987. … Our seats have gone from the attic to the lower club end zone, which we prefer. In 2018, we suffered a double shafting, the IRS changed the rules on deductions for college teams from 80% to 0, and UGA implemented UGA Magill Society privileges. At Georgia-Florida we went from eight seats together in club in 2017 to eight in club two by two, behind each other, in 2018, to only allowed four in club and four elsewhere. Parking went from near the stadium to a location … far away. We are a middle-income family living on our retirement here in Athens and the one real pleasure outside of our kids and grandkids is being slowly eroded.

— Armand L. Chapeau

I’ve heard quite a few stories like yours concerning game parking and Florida tickets. I also know it’s the big donors who largely fund Georgia’s participation in the facility arms race, so I understand the emphasis on attracting and keeping them. Still, I hope UGA’s athletics brain trust doesn’t wait until attendance starts falling before they begin thinking more about the average fan.

Hi Bill, I was embarrassed during the recent NCAA regionals by the dinky little baseball stadium we have. I’ll admit, it’s certainly nicer than it was before the renovation a couple of years ago, but it’s clearly not the size facility an SEC school ought to have. What do you think would be the better answer, expanding the seating at Foley Field or building an entirely new baseball stadium out near the soccer and softball complex?

— Harold Reed

Georgia has the second-smallest baseball stadium in the SEC. (Kristin M. Bradshaw/UGA)

I was one of several fans discussing this on Facebook this past week, prompted by an opinion piece by Ryne Dennis that ran in the Athens Banner-Herald on the need for Georgia to enlarge its baseball stadium, which is the second-smallest in the SEC with a capacity of 3,291. Only Missouri is smaller, at 3,031. The baseball stadium at Florida State, which eliminated Georgia in Athens in the NCAAs, has double the capacity of Foley Field.

The limited seating at Foley probably isn’t the reason Georgia has lost NCAA regionals at their own field the past two years, but it certainly doesn’t give the Diamond Dogs much of a home-field advantage.

The ABH’s Dennis noted that, while most other college stadiums extend seating down both lines, Georgia’s just goes from first to third base. “There’s a lot of empty real estate down the left field line along Rutherford Street that could be taken advantage of,” Dennis said.

Georgia easily could add outfield bleachers. And, considering the fundraising they’ve managed for other facility expansions, paying for more seating at Foley shouldn’t be an issue.

I’d certainly prefer expanding the seating at the current Foley to the alternative of a new stadium out on Milledge. I’ve always loved the baseball field being on campus.

Bottom line, as one of the fans on the Dawg Bites Facebook page put it: “We are a top-tier school with a third-tier baseball stadium. … The team is back and almost every series was a sellout. They could definitely sell another 2-3K seats, I’m sure.”

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