ATHENS – Chip Folendore is one happy Dawg.
That’s “Dawg,” as in a dyed-in-wool Georgia Bulldogs’ fan. The 56-year-old Athens resident has been going to pretty much every Georgia football game – home and away – for the better part of a quarter-century now. So he knows a thing or two or about getting tickets for Georgia games.
And he just landed one of the toughest tickets he has ever sought – four in fact – for Georgia’s Sept. 9th road game at Notre Dame.
Not only did he land the coveted ducats, but he believes he got a doggone good deal on them. He paid $275 a piece or $1,100 for the set.
“By far the cheapest ticket I found,” Folendore proclaimed proudly.
Indeed. A quick Internet survey of some of the more established and popular ticket websites show tickets ranging from a low of $425 apiece for upper level to as much as $7,000 for lower-level sideline seats. Of course, just because brokers are asking that now doesn’t mean they’ll get it. But those are where the lines are set at the moment.
And, of course, Folendore doesn’t have his tickets in hand yet. Nobody does. Though Folendore has dealt on the second-hand ticket market many times over the years, he has never done business with this particular broker. These tickets didn’t come from one of the better known suppliers such as TicketMaster, StubHub, TicketCity or Razorgator. These came from a boutique outlet, if you will – AllSportsTickets.net.
Folendore said he won’t feel completely comfortable about the process until he actually has those tickets in hand, or at least the bar-coded paper printout. That won’t be until August, as will be the case with everybody. So he remains a little, shall we say, skittish.
“Yeah, I was emailing the guy back and forth all night last night,” Folendore said in a phone interview Thursday. “But, you know, I said, ‘for this price I’m going to give this a whirl.’ If he can’t deliver them to me in August, I’ll still have a month to go look for them somewhere else if I want.”
There are no exact records kept on things such as this, but based on conversations with people in the know, the 2017 Notre Dame ticket is one of most sought-after in the modern history of Georgia football. The Bulldogs and Notre Dame have played only one other time in school history and that was in the Sugar Bowl for the national championship on Jan. 1, 1981. Georgia won 17-10, in case you hadn’t heard.
So this will be Georgia’s first trip ever to South Bend and only its second into the Great Lakes Plains region since playing at Michigan in 1965. The Fighting Irish will return the favor with a trip to Athens in 2019.
Not only is there the history and tradition element as a lure but, as it turns out, the Chicago Cubs are playing at home at Wrigley Field that weekend and the Atlanta Falcons are playing the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on Sunday. So there is the opportunity for a rare sports fans trifecta that weekend. Numerous folks plan to attempt it.
Meanwhile, Notre Dame is providing UGA only 8,000 tickets for the game, which will be played in its newly-renovated and expanded stadium with 80,795. Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity, in Destin for the SEC meetings this week, estimated that at least 20,000 Bulldogs’ fans are planning to make the trip. Some think it’ll be more.
Whatever the case, the demand for tickets is great.
“I wouldn’t put it quite to the level of when we play in the SEC Championship, but from a road game perspective – and I’ve been doing this for 17 or 18 years now – it’s one of the hottest tickets we’ve ever seen,” said Tim Cearley, Georgia’s associate athletic director for tickets. “I’d say it’s second (in demand) to the SEC championship.”
Georgia set its minimum requirement for season-ticket holders to receive tickets for this game at 75,000 “Hartman points.” That means one must’ve donated at $75,000 cumulatively over the years to qualify to buy them. Cearley said they ended up being able to accommodate requests for donors down to 67,000. There also is a tiered distribution format in which donors who have given at least $10,000 this year can get as many as six tickets. Keep in mind, that does not include the face value of the tickets, which are $170 apiece.
“Until recently, I had reached a point in donation land that I got tickets from the university for every game,” Folendore said. “Don’t misunderstand me, this is not a complaint, but the Magill Society kind of changed that a little bit.”
UGA established the Magill Society to fundraise for the newly-completed Indoor Athletic Facility and other projects. It requires a minimum donation of $25,000 to be paid off over the next five years.
Several new donors were able to qualify for Notre Dame tickets via that route, Cearley said.
Meanwhile, a Notre Dame official confirmed Thursday that the game is officially a sellout. Some Georgia fans – Folendore among them – looked into the possibility of buying Notre Dame season tickets in order to be assured of getting a seat. But the cheapest offered were $90 upper level seats requiring an $1,100 minimum donation. That adds up quickly.
Folendore figured he could do better, and he has.
“We put a limit on ourselves of $300 and we probably would’ve gone to $400,” said Folendore, who owns a property management company in Athens. “But there comes a point you have to say no. I’d love to go but, my goodness, they are coming here in a couple of years.”
While both Notre Dame and UGA are out of their respective allotment, both partner with secondary ticket brokerages and try to assist fans looking for tickets. Georgia partners with StubHub.com and Notre Dame with VividSeats.com. That’s where they are referring their donors.
Folendore and his friends are staying in Valparaiso, Ind., which is about halfway between South Bend and Chicago. They haven’t decided yet if they’re going to try to catch the Cubs’ or Falcons’ games. They’re also eyeing a possible trip to Lake Michigan, which has casinos.
But for him and most of the Bulldogs who are making that great migration north this fall, this trip is all about the game and the opportunity to experience Notre Dame University, its stadium and its campus.
And to see a Georgia win, of course.
“From my perspective, there’s two places I always wanted to go see when Georgia was playing: South Bend and The Rose Bowl, if we ever get there,” he said. “That’s the two places I consider the Holy Grail of college sports. … This is a once-in-a-lifetime trip as far as I’m concerned. We’re not going to be playing up there again anytime soon.”