ATHENS — In an e-mail to UGA donors, athletics director Greg McGarity touted spending toward facilities projects, including the Sanford Stadium west end zone project.
McGarity said there is now over $18 million in fundraised money is available for the $63 million football stadium project, which includes new locker rooms and a recruiting area.
The project was announced and approved in February, but it’s not clear how much of that $18 million has been donated since then. When the school dedicated the $30.2 million indoor facility that same day in February, the school confirmed it had received well over the $30.2 million cost through fundraising. So excess funds would have the chance to be redirected toward the west end zone project, as well as other smaller projects.
Construction on the west end zone project began “immediately” after UGA commencement last week, McGarity told donors in the e-mail. The work will continue this summer, then “will cause some hardship throughout” the upcoming football season, McGarity added, but said he was “confident our temporary plans for navigating these areas on game day will be successful.”
The project is expected to be completed in time for the start of the 2018 season.
McGarity’s e-mail appeared aimed at criticism that not enough money is spent on facilities, even while the school has just over $77 million in reserve funds available. A presentation is planned in two weeks at the athletic board meeting to further explain the reserve fund situation. McGarity declined comment until then.
In his e-mail to donors, McGarity touted $81.14 million of facilities work, most of it the west end zone project, but also previously-approved work on Stegeman Coliseum ($7.94 million), the golf course ($4.35 million), the soccer complex ($4.575 million) and the track ($1.275 million.)
“We are using a blend of Athletic Association reserves and private support via the Magill Society for these projects,” McGarity wrote in the e-mail to donors. “What started out as an entirely new way of generating funds for facility enhancements in September, 2015, has been a remarkable story in itself. To date, the Magill Society has generated over $50 million which will be directed toward facility improvements — the vast majority earmarked to the football-related projects.”
When the plans for the indoor facility were unveiled in Sept. 2015, the school said it would seek half of the $30.2 million price tag via fundraising, and would pay for the other half out of reserves. But McGarity also said at the time that if more than $15.1 million was fundraised, that those funds would be put toward other projects.
That’s exactly what happened, as the money poured in, and the school continued to accept donations to the Magill Society. As McGarity’s message indicated, the leftover funds after the indoor facility — at least $20 million — is being put toward the west end zone project, as well as smaller amounts for the other sports.
The stated goal in February, when the west end zone project was announced, was for $53 million of the $63 million to be fundraised.
“We are actively seeking gifts for this project which will also be funded by Athletic Association reserves and through private support,” McGarity wrote, concluding his e-mail.