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Mike Griffith / DawgNation
Sanford Stadium will have a different look with a reduced amount of fans amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Georgia has ‘great plan’ for football game attendance model, projected numbers

ATHENS — Greg McGarity says Georgia football has “a great plan” for fan attendance at Sanford Stadium that’s in its final stages before release.

The Bulldogs are expected to announce an attendance plan that would allow for between 18,000 to 30,000 socially-distanced fans, pending local health legislation, CDC recommendations and SEC directives.

RELATED: Reduced attendance model will have great effect on Georgia athletic budget

The Bulldogs will open the season on Sept. 26.

The SEC, however, has yet to release its revised schedule after announcing a 10-game conference-only schedule model on Thursday.

RELATED: How 10-game SEC slate could help Georgia, projected model

Parents of players, major donors and UGA students would be prioritized in the Bulldogs’ scheduling plan, according to sources with knowledge of the plan discussions.

Seat reduction will carry over into the skyboxes and press boxes, as well as general seating.

Ohio State announced earlier this week it plans to cap attendance at 20 percent, which would mean no more than 21,000 in Ohio Stadium. Florida State has said capacity at its home games could be as low as 25 percent of capacity (19,890).

RELATED: Greg McGarity weighs in added opponents, opening practice date

Georgia released a preliminary limited seating plan earlier this summer.

UGA president Jere Morehead assembled nine working groups to devise plans for the schools return to full operations, with McGarity involved in the athletics group.

The 225-page report included a tentative outline for how UGA would go about game-day operations. That included cashless operations at parking, ticketing and concession stands and mandatory social distancing.

RELATED: Georgia releases preliminary limited seating details in return to operations plan

There were no provisions for tailgating to be allowed in the preliminary plan.

Some of the guidelines for the limited attendance model issues earlier this offseason:

— mandatory social distancing six-foot

— decals at entrances, restrooms concessions to ensure six-foot distancing

— cashless operations at parking, ticketing and concession stands

— concessions stand workers in gloves and masks

— seating would be in groups of 2, 4, 5 and 6.

McGarity said on Thursday that masks will be mandatory in Sanford Stadium.

 

“I give a lot of credit to Josh Brooks and his staff,” McGarity said on a Thursday Zoom call with reporters, praising the Bulldogs’ senior deputy athletics director. “We’ve had an army of individuals working on what would our social distancing plan be, we’re going through the final pieces of that now.

“Once we release that, those that are able to come to our games can feel they are as safe as possible,” he said.

“We just want to do our best to create the safest environment for anyone in the confines of Sanford Stadium, whether that’s fans or student-athletes, that’s our charge.”

Thirteen of the 14 SEC schools will play five home games and five road games this season, but Georgia will only have four home games.

McGarity said that “unless something changes,” his plan is for Georgia coaches and players to fly to Jacksonville for a neutral site game with Florida rather than move the game to Athens.

It is Georgia’s year to be the designated home team in the annual rivalry game. The game is  contracted to be played in Jacksonville through 2023, though there are plans for significantlty reduced seating in that stadium this season, too.

McGarity also said on Thursday Georgia is assured of playing the eight SEC teams that were previously scheduled for the 2020 campaign.

The league has yet to determine how it will add two more conference games.

One of the SEC schedule models discussed is for teams to add the two next cross-division opponents from their 2021 and 2022 schedules.

In Georgia’s case, that would be a home game with Arkansas and a road game at Mississippi State.

East Division rival Florida would add a home game with Alabama and a road game with Texas A&M.

There are other models being considered and more discussion expected among the SEC athletic directors before the details of the new schedule are determined and announced.

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