ATHENS — Organizers of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta made it well worth the while of Georgia and Clemson to participate in their annual season kickoff event in 2024.
Each team has been guaranteed a payout of at least $5 million to meet at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Aug. 31, 2024, according to an agreement signed with Peach Bowl Inc., which operates the event. The 19-page contract, signed late last August, was released Wednesday in accordance with state open record laws.
In order to receive the “full settlement,” the schools must sell at least 28,500 tickets each. But with opportunities to receive additional tickets thereafter, the respective programs can earn even more money. The contract calls for a “guaranteed payment” of $5 million or 80 percent of ticket revenue, “whichever is greater.”
Average payout for the game in recent years has been $5.2 million per school. Georgia makes about $3.5 million on average when it plays at home in Sanford Stadium.
Neither school should have a problem selling tickets. Clemson has played in three of the last four National Championship Games, winning two, including this past season’s title over Alabama. Georgia played in the 2017 national championship and has won 24 games the last two seasons, including the 2017 SEC Championship.
“We think it’s going to be a tremendous, blockbuster game,” said Gary Stokan, president and CEO of Peach Bowl Inc., which operates the annual kickoff game. “You’ve got to believe the 2024 game will be between Top 5 teams the way Georgia and Clemson are recruiting and performing on the field.”
The agreement provides several other perks for the participating teams, including complimentary hotel rooms, suite and bench passes, parking passes and tickets to the College Football Hall of Fame.
It will have been 10 years since Georgia and Clemson last played when they finally meet in the $1.6 billion building known as The Benz. They last played in Athens on Aug. 30, 2014, when the No. 12-ranked Bulldogs won 45-21. The schools, located about 80 miles apart, once played annually, including a consecutive stretch of 20 home-and-home games from 1967 to 1987. Georgia leads the overall series 42-18-4.
Clemson has emerged as a national power under coach Dabo Swinney, and the Bulldogs have shown signs of following suit under coach Kirby Smart, who will be entering his fourth season in 2019.
“Many of the players on both teams know each other and the proximity of the two schools makes it especially competitive,” Smart said when the game was first announced last fall. “This is another great opportunity for our team and our fans to play an outstanding team in an extraordinary city and venue.”
Georgia is also playing in the 2020 and 2022 Chick-fil-A Kickoff games against Virginia and Oregon, respectively.