ATHENS — Georgia football just keeps giving, to the point that athletic director Josh Brooks has said ticket prices will not increase for the 2022 season.
The defending national champion Bulldogs open the season against Oregon on Sept. 3 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium before opening at Sanford Stadium in Athens against Samford (Sept. 10), playing at South Carolina (Sept. 17) and returning home for Kent State (Sept. 24).
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Brooks explained to DawgNation that part of Georgia’s plan to capitalize on the championship season is to invest in the future and continue to serve the fanbase.
The Bulldogs will soon be reinvesting in Kirby Smart, too, as the seventh-year head coach has not renegotiated his contract since 2018 and is due a raise from his current salary of approximately $7 million per year.
Smart, represented by super-agent Jimmy Sexton, is working on a new deal believed to be worth more than $100 million over 10 years.
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Smart’s pending raise, along with inflation and added operational expenses with the new $80 million football building, would have seemed to make higher ticket and concession prices a given at Georgia.
Certainly, that has been the case at many other SEC schools.
But Brooks, who is starting his second year as AD, indicated that’s not how he plans for Georgia to approach things this year.
“We have no plans to increase home game ticket prices or concession prices for the upcoming season,” Brooks said.
“Our fans were crucial in support of us through the pandemic with so many converting their potential refunds into donations. That allowed us to keep providing our student-athletes a first-class experience.”
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The numbers will take care of themselves, Brooks said.
Particularly with the Bulldogs’ fans continued support at the turnstiles, with donations and purchasing and showcasing championship Georgia apparel.
Georgia sold more championship gear within 24 hours of winning the CFP Championship Game than Alabama sold in the 30 days after winning its most recent CFP title last year, per a Fanatics global digital platform report.
The University of Georgia athletic department ranked fifth nationally in most revenue generated in the most recent pre-pandemic compilation, at $174 million in the 2019 fiscal year, per a July 2020, USA Today rundown.
All finances aside, Brooks will see to it that the Georgia athletic department stays proactive in its quest for success in all sports.
“One of the main priorities for us this year centered on the Georgia Athletics experience,” Brooks said.
“We want to make sure that we are providing all of our stakeholders, including our student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans, the best possible experience every time they step into an athletics facility. Dawg Nation is such a big part of our success.”
Brooks points out how the Bulldogs’ fans have stayed loyal and showed their support across several platforms in many ways.
No doubt, the fans were integral at a packed-out Stegeman Coliseum on Saturday when Coach Tom Crean’s team came within a controversial no-call of taking down the No. 1 team in the nation.
Sellouts for football games have been a given, Brooks noted.
“They make Sanford Stadium a true home-field advantage, they take over stadiums at our road games, and when we took the field at Lucas Oil Stadium, it was 70 percent Georgia fans in red and black,” Brooks said. “.With all the support they have given us, we will continue to make sure their game days are the best they can be.”
Brooks said at the UGA Athletic Association Board of Directors winter meeting last Wednesday that he recognizes he’s in a special place at Georgia.
‘’The more people I get to know in our business,” Brooks said, “the more I learn that no one else is in the position we’re in.”
That’s one reason why Georgia decided to fund a parade and championship celebration at a cost of roughly $250,000 — approximately two-thirds of the game-day operations costs for a typical home game.
“There were those immediate expenses, and we take pride in doing things the right way,” Brooks said. “When we get to a national championship game, we are going to travel our staff, because we want to take care of the core football group the right way.”
To that end, there will be great attention to detail in how the UGA athletic department approaches its duties, from top to bottom.
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“The first part of all of this for me starts with a championship mentality, and goals and expectations for all of our programs to win championships,” Brooks said. “This staff, throughout the building from the student workers, to full-time staff, from groundskeepers to event management staff, has to find that championship mindset and mentality.
“We want this championship mindset to bleed over into every department and sport we have.”
Brooks has said from the start that one of his main areas of focus is ensuring UGA coaches have the means to compete for titles.
The UGA Athletic Association Board of Directors unanimously approved funding at the winter meeting last week that totaled $10.645 million, for the following facility projects:
• Full-project funding for interior upgrades to the first floor of the Butts-Mehre Building for the Track & Field and Cross Country programs ($6.4 million).
• Design work for improvements to Foley Field baseball stadium ($950,000) and Jack Turner Softball Stadium ($850,000). Feasibility studies for both projects were completed recently.
• Initial-phase funding for the replacement of the Lindsey Hopkins Indoor Tennis Facility ($1.7 million).
• Waterproofing of the 100 Level East End Zone at Sanford Stadium ($750,000)
The board will meet again May 25-27 in Greensboro, Ga.