ATHENS — Greetings from Sanford Stadium, all spruced up and renovated, such as she is. And she’s looking good. I think folks forget sometimes that this is an 89-year-old facility, at least the foundation and base of it. So it’s somewhat of a minor miracle that this place plays host to more than 92,000 people six or seven Saturdays every fall.
There is expected to be a full house for Georgia’s season opener against the Austin Peay Governors of the Ohio Valley Conference and the NCAA’s Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). The Governors were 8-4 last year, their second under coach Will Healy, who went 0-11 the first year. You may have heard that your No. 3-ranked Bulldogs are coming off a 13-2 season and are defending SEC champions.
I’m coming to you from my usual spot, Seat 100 in the Dan Magill Press Box, where I’m immediately reminded by the stifling heat that this is indeed one of the few remaining open-air press boxes in the U.S. That’s mostly a cool thing, though, pun intended.
This is one half of the East Suites that now occupy the space behind the hedges on that end of the stadium. (Chip Towers/DawgNation)
I’ll tell you where it’s not going to be very cool — the new open-air “suites” behind the East End zone. While all the focus has been on the $63 million West End renovation, Georgia has converted their old locker room and the seats between the hedges and the grandstand into a viewing area for suite holders who have leased the spaces for big money.
They’ve done a pretty good job of putting it all together. The Bulldogs’ old locker room underneath the East grandstands has been converted into a lounge area where patrons can eat and, yes, drink alcohol. They can’t bring alcoholic beverages into the seating area, however, and there are signs aplenty all around reminding them of that (plus not to yell profanities or throw anything on the field).
I don’t know why they’d want to drink anything other than pure water out there, though, because it’s going to be hot, and that’s only going to be intensified by the black-painted platform and black-cushioned chairs that separate the 11 suites. Plus, facing West, they’ll be looking dead into the setting sun late in games. So I’m not sure how great of a viewing spot it actually is. We’ll see how it goes. I’m told that they sold out but I’ll be interested to see if they’re actually filled up during the game.
Of course, the real story is what happens between the hedges today. Obviously, I don’t think there is any threat whatsoever of Georgia being upset. The talent deficit between these two programs is vast. But there are many answers we all will be looking get answered. Such as:
- How will Georgia utilize back-up quarterback Justin Fields?
- What will the running back rotation look like?
- Who will start at inside linebacker, at boundary corner and star?
- Where does transfer wideout Demetris Robertson fit it?
- Will freshman Jake Camarda be the starting punter? And whether he is or not, will the Bulldogs punt at all today?
We’ll get the answer to those questions and more today. Stay tuned to DawgNation either through the phone app or computer or whatever data device you prefer for all our coverage, which will be considerable. Mike Griffith, Brandon Adams, Jeff Sentell, Connor Riley and I are all here to make sure every angle is covered and we will be bringing you some Facebook Live updates as well.
So thanks for hanging out with DawgNation for another football season. We think it’s going to be a good one!