ATHENS — Mark Fox is fine with playing Georgia Tech in Atlanta. He would just like tweak the location. At least occasionally.
Georgia’s basketball team will travel to Georgia Tech on Tuesday night for the annual rivalry game, which right now alternates between campus sites. But Fox has proposed playing the game at a neutral site, Philips Arena, at least every few years, instead of playing it every year in Athens or Atlanta.
“I really think every couple of years we ought to play it downtown,” Fox said. “I think it’d be great for the people of Atlanta, I think it’d be great for everybody. But I haven’t been able to get that done yet.”
This isn’t the first time the idea’s been brought up. Fox and previous Georgia Tech head coach Brian Gregory discussed the idea several years ago.
“We want to get it where it’s a big game in the state,” Gregory told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution two years ago. “I think that’d be good for uus, and it’d be good for college basketball in the state.”
The game was played at the Omni from 1981-94, but since then it’s been at each campus’ site.
Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner had no firm feeling on the matter, deferring it to Yellow Jackets AD Todd Stansbury.
“I’ve talked to Coach Fox. I know he and maybe Coach Gregory had talked about it. That’s something probably with Mr. Stansbury, my new boss. That’s probably for him,” Pastner said, via the AJC’s Ken Sugiura. “Not to put it on him. That’s probably something more he and I should probably have a discussion on that. That’s probably above me because you’re dealing with scheduling and finances and stuff like that. I would probably defer that to the administration on that.”
One stated reason for playing it in Philips is because of the calendar: The Georgia-Georgia Tech game has been played in late December, just before Christmas, each of the past two years, when students aren’t on campus. That leads to a less raucous atmosphere at both schools. Because of other scheduling commitments, Fox said, it’s likely the game will remain around this time most years.
An unstated reason by Fox may be that it could help Georgia: Even in Atlanta, there are probably more Georgia fans, so what would be a neutral site game might tilt towards the Bulldogs.
Fox indicated he doesn’t think the idea has much traction yet. Asked what the roadblock was, Fox demurred.
“I think it would be good every once in awhile for the game to split Philips Arena and play it there,” he said. “I’m not the only one that has an opinion on this. There’s obviously people above me here. I don’t know their opinion, I’m not saying that they don’t agree with it. And then there’s people on the other side. So you’d have to get everybody agreeing with it.”