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What do I need to know about G-Day?
— Georgia football fan
OK, I sort of made that up. Not entirely, though. I have received a lot of queries via firstname.lastname@example.org, my own e-mail accounts and various social media platforms about what G-Day might look like from a fan logistics standpoint. And I’ve been curious myself as my family will be attending the proceedings on Saturday. So I figured I’d tackle them all in one format.
The fact is, there is bound to be a bit of confusion this weekend as the west end of Sanford Stadium remains under construction and thousands of Georgia football fans who don’t normally go to home games in the fall are expected to attend. That’s according to Josh Brooks, who is UGA’s executive associate athletics director. In that capacity, Brooks basically oversees all things about the Bulldogs from a business and operational standpoint. Brooks told me he has personally answered “at least” 500 emails from fans writing in about this or that or the other thing regarding the game.
There has been a lot of interest for a number of reasons, not the least of which is coach Kirby Smart again calling out fans to pack out Sanford Stadium in answer to other SEC rivals who are trying to do the same. You’ll recall Smart did the same thing with what became known as 93K Day his first spring as Georgia’s head coach. That was a smash hit, but also presented a number of logistical concerns, not the least of which was that more than 93,000 attended. UGA doesn’t know exactly how many because they didn’t utilize turnstiles or any other method of counting the spectators. But the stadium appeared to be overflowing.
That won’t be the case this year. Not only has the capacity been reduced to 82,000 from 92,746 because of the closing of sections 137-144 and 101 for the game, but gates 1 and 10 underneath Sanford Bridge will be closed as well. Also, upon entry, each fan will be given a pass directing them to a certain section number. That section will be in the general proximity of the gate one enters. So if a fan wants to sit in the east end zone where they normally sit, then they should enter the stadium at the gate nearest that section. The hope is that they will be able to fill the stadium in an orderly fashion while also keeping track of how many fans come.
Here’s some other useful information that Brooks shared with me:
- There is no charge for admission but stations will be set up to accept donations to the Foodbank of Northeast Georgia, the game’s traditional beneficiary.
- Kickoff is at 4 p.m. but gates open at 1. Fans should arrive early if they’re selective about where they sit. Brooks encourages fans to “squeeze in and do their best to make room for others” since it will be general admission.
- The traditional UGA Letterman’s Flag Football will start at 1:15 p.m. As many as 60 former players have signed up to participate, including Mohamed Massaquoi, Brandon Miller and Dick Conn, who played six seasons for the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots from 1974-79. Paul Messer, who lettered in 1984-85 as the Bulldogs’ snapper, will coach the Red Team. Todd Wheeler, who lettered from 1985-88 and served as a captain of coach Vince Dooley’s final squad, will coach the Black Team. Three-year letterman Bobby Poss (1969-71) will serve as the public address announcer.
- Yes, all concessions areas except for those in the west end will be open and the usual array of offerings will be available. They are trying to utilize more “grab and go” concepts to speed up service.
- The game will be played with 12-minute quarters, rather than 15, so it won’t last as long. Everything should be finished by 6:15 p.m.
- The team has been split into Red and Black squads. The No. 1 offense will lead the Red team and the No. 1 defense will lead the Black. Everything will be live, but quarterbacks and kick returners can’t be hit. There will be 2-minute drills in the last four minutes of each half regardless of situation.
- There is no halftime entertainment planned beyond the introduction of the Class of 2018 signees who have yet to enroll. That’s 17 players in total.
- The Bulldogs will unveil a new scoreboard that is 30 percent larger than the previous one. It is also 30 feet farther back and to the south of the old one. The video and graphics are supposed to be improved as well as the sound. Asked what fans might notice about the new sound system, Brooks said, “higher-quality speech intelligibility (understanding the p.a.), a true low end (bass) and, overall, a system that is louder and more powerful but also produces a higher-quality sound.”
- For what it’s worth, yes, Georgia loses money on the whole affair. But the Bulldogs figure it’s worth it for the public relations, branding and recruiting gains.
If there’s anything else you’re wondering about, ask in the comments section below and I’ll try to provide some answers.
Have a question for beat writer Chip Towers? E-mail us at email@example.com