ATHENS –Greg McGarity wants to convey this to Georgia fans: Yes, he cares about the fan experience at football games. And yes, something is being done about it.
A couple weeks ago, UGA announced a $63 million project to help the team’s gameday and recruiting experience, by building new locker rooms and a recruiting area. But the reaction from many fans was essentially: Great, but what about us?
The state of the bathrooms has been criticized, as well as long concession lines and other areas of complaint. McGarity, whose initial response when that was brought up two weeks ago didn’t please some fans, made clear Thursday that he hears them.
“It’s important to us.,” he said “We’ve made strides. Have we made enough strides, no. Is it important to us, yes. And I think the message that we’d like to convey is that it’s a huge deal for us.”
What strides have been made? McGarity said the bathrooms have been renovated over the past few years in “roughly half” of the stadium. And part of the West End project includes building four new bathrooms and newer concession areas.
But more work to other areas of the stadium needs to be done, and McGarity said that’s coming after G-Day.
“We have addressed certain areas of the stadium every year, and we still plan to do that,” McGarity said. “And what we would do is at the appropriate time, whether it’s around our next board meeting, or some point at time before that, we would let our people know what’s going on. But we usually do that kind of before the season starts, as far as what’s new at Sanford Stadium. Do we need to talk about it more? Probably so. Now that it’s become an issue for a number of people. What are our plans. Can we communicate that better, absolutely.”
McGarity pointed to some other work that’s been done for fan experience: Ceiling fans in the first-level concourses, to alleviate complaints that it was too hot in those areas. The ability to use credit cards at all concession stands, and a “grab and go” process at those concession stands, which would hopefully speed up the lines.
Doing work on the south side of the stadium is tough because of where it’s located, adjacent to other buildings.
“That’s been a challenge to us,” McGarity said. “We’ve not been able to figure that out, but what we’ve tried to do is speed up the process. And we’re always looking at ways to make it better. Is it directing people to certain areas? Those are all things that we’ll be looking at in the future.”