An old adage among those who follow football is that there truly is no offseason. As soon as the final whistle blew for the Georgia Bulldogs on Jan. 1 in the Gator Bowl against Nebraska, UGA began to give credence to this belief. The team hired a new defensive coordinator, signed one of its best recruiting classes in recent memory, and this past week, made an announcement that may come as a shock to some: For the first time since 2008, Georgia will be increasing football ticket prices, likely effective for the 2015 season.
In remarks given after a meeting on the topic, UGA athletic director Greg McGarity explained the reasoning behind the increase.
“We have limited ways to generate revenue,” McGarity said at a UGA Athletic Association board of director’s meeting. “Unless we have increases in SEC money, which we don’t know, nobody knows what the TV network is going to generate but that’s [ticket sales] our really only other revenue source that we have.”
While the rationale for the move is largely economic, there is a football aspect to the increase, as Georgia looks to position itself as a controlling player in non-conference scheduling. Georgia pays teams who are not in their conference to come to Athens and play. McGarity estimates that UGA makes about 2.25 million dollars per home game. An increase in this number would allow UGA more room to be creative in scheduling, as it would have access to more money to lure teams to Sanford Stadium.
Additionally, plans to improve Sanford Stadium have been announced. Even though each season generates a myriad of revenue for the program, there is a budget to adhere to. Increasing ticket prices, while not the most popular of options, is a simple way to bring in more money for the program.
“As the budget will show we’re being required to do more things for students, which we want to do and to do that we’ve got to generate more money,” McGarity said. “The expenses are not going down.”
A specific number has not yet been announced as to how much prices will be increased. McGarity said however that fans should expect a “modest increase” in prices, saying that he doesn’t “want to get tagged with a number, but it’s something that will make sense.”
Community reaction to the news has been mostly negative.
“To a degree [it’s unfair], but I feel like students should get the best prices and alumni should get at least some benefits,” Justin Starner, a sophomore computer science major at UGA, said.
Other students echoed his sentiments.
“I want to support my team, but the last thing I would want is to have to pay more,” Ryan Wagge, a junior exercise and sports medicine major, said.
Both students agreed that once they become alumni, they would certainly return to football games, and would be willing to pay whatever the cost of admission may be.
Rachel Konovalova, a UGA student from Buford, is disappointed with the news and has talked with other fans who are alumni and share her sentiments.
“It’s an unfortunate decision,” Konovalova said.
“Ticket prices are high enough and the alumni that I know are furious. Many of them have been season ticket holders for countless years, but this increase may cause them to stop buying tickets because it’ll all add up.”
Ultimately, university alumni were split in their opinion on the decision.
Hobie Jones, a Georgia alumni and lawyer living in Peachtree City, has been going to games since he was 7 years old and said he has not missed a home game in six years.
Jones said that an increase in ticket prices would not affect him.
“I would go either way,” Jones said.
Ryan Scates, another UGA alumni and lawyer, sees the practicality in such a move, but would only support it if the reasoning was logical and sensible.
“I think that the only thing that would justify it would be simple supply and demand,” Scates said.
“If there is more demand than supply then they can do everything they can to make sure that they are being good stewards of their resources and that if 40 dollars is too low of a price for the market. I think they should increase it to a point where a fair price for the school and the fans. They could probably go up to about 80 bucks face value on a ticket, and they could increase a season ticket holder’s price per game by about 50 percent.”
Nothing can be finalized until McGarity meets again with the board of directors for their fall meeting in September. However, preliminary discussions have taken place and McGarity believes that the board will support the proposed increase.
In less than 100 days, an eventful offseason for Georgia football will be over. For now, as the summer trudges on, this will be something to keep an eye on. In the near future, those who wish to cheer on Georgia may soon have to pay a bigger price to pay.