NASHVILLE — Georgia is hoping to undertake a number of internal improvements to Stegeman Coliseum, including the long-awaited center-hanging scoreboard.
There is no money figure being put on it yet, and most other specifics will wait until the May meeting of the UGA athletic board. But athletics director Greg McGarity confirmed that enhancements will be sought.
“There are things on the horizon with Stegeman, and other facilities,” McGarity said Thursday at Bridgestone Arena, where he’s attending the SEC tournament. Sixth-seeded Georgia faces No. 11-seeded Mississippi State on Thursday night.
The center-hanging scoreboard, which would take the place of the current one against the wall, has been in discussion for years, but was postponed because of other projects. Now it appears back on the front-burner.
McGarity also mentioned the possibility of changes to the sound system and lighting. The overall aim is to improve the fan experience – but also recruiting. While some other colleges have actually reduced seating in order to improve the atmosphere, McGarity said they’re not at that point yet.
“We’re seeking to enhance what we have in place now,” McGarity said. “Structurally what can we do to make it better. Because the building functions really, really well when it’s full. It has a dynamic presence.”
There were also no considerations to more major structural changes to Stegeman, such as another major renovation, or even replacing it.
“When the decision was made to expand the concourse, that expense that you made in that, that made the decision as far as imploding the building, that went away at that time,” McGarity said. “But if we look at premium seating, we haven’t gone that far. We’re just focused on making sure that the 10,400 seats we have in there, that they’re full, and that we do a few other things that create a better environment.”
It doesn’t appear that financing the project will be a major hurdle, even with the ongoing construction on the indoor athletic facility.
McGarity said that of the $30.2 million budgeted for the indoor facility, nearly $24 million has been pledged, while about $10 million of that is already on hand in cash. So that helps as the project is being built.
UGA also had to dip into the reserve fund to pay buyouts to football coaches totaling just over $6 million.
As for men’s basketball – long a distant second to football in revenue production – things are looking up financially, according to McGarity. The attendance average this season was the best in five years, and that was without the benefit of a Kentucky game. A number of Saturday sell-outs helped.
“Our fans have really responded,” McGarity said. “Trends are up. Our basketball educational fund, our revenue, it’s all on an upward trend. Those are things that bode well moving forward.”