The very top of Sanford Stadium is called the 600 level. A seat in that section offers a view of all of Athens and at least part of the football field, and it — like the rest of UGA’s home field, was filled to capacity at kickoff for G-Day.
These seats are so undesirable that for actual games they’re reserved for visiting fans to limit the noise they’re able to make. The reasonable thought is that there’s a better chance of hearing someone cheer in nearby Watkinsville, Ga., than there is in a portion of the stadium so high in the air that it’s actually above the so-called Sky Suites. Yet on Saturday, there were no visiting fans to sequester there. On this particular day, it was only folks dressed in red and black occupying this real estate.
If they were bothered by getting stuck in the cheap seats, they didn’t seem to show it.
Luke Woodall from Breman, Ga., entered the stadium after almost every seat was already taken. Instead of regretting not arriving sooner, Woodall said, “I was glad it was full.” Woodall’s father — Robert from Vila Rica, Ga. — echoed those sentiments and admitted he was attending his first G-Day game and that new coach Kirby Smart’s challenge “was a big part” of why he decided to show up, adding, ”That got everyone excited.”
Maybe not everyone.
Candi Kelley from Carrollton, Ga. — who also sat in the 600 level on Saturday — wasn’t initially motivated by Smart’s plea to the fans. She said, “I was a big fan of Mark Richt,” but after seeing the full stadium for Saturday’s spring game, Kelley admitted Smart’s appeal was growing on her. “I am open to change. Fifteen years is a long time with one coach. I’m excited to see what happens (when the season begins). It’s awesome to see so many people at this game.”
Awesome is one way to describe it, but a couple seated near Kelley had a different word for the overflow crowd.
“Shocked” was the reaction of Scott and Debbie Mottern from Atlanta, who admitted that they were slow to walk through the turnstiles after a day spent tailgating around campus because they were “hoping it would be (a crowd of) 93,000, but really were thinking it would be more like 70 or 75,000.” They assumed there would be seats available for them — even just before kickoff. However, the Motterns spent the first half in a makeshift standing room only section that formed in one of the end zone upper levels, and were only able to find seats after halftime when some fans made their way for an early exit.
All who spoke to DawgNation for this story were quick to acknowledge Smart for the record-shattering G-Day attendance, but Scott Mottern also said another figure from Saturday’s game should get some credit as well, saying, “I think Jacob Eason being here is also a huge deal. He’s looked great.”