The Georgia Athletic Association sold more student ticket packages than available seats this season.
“This season, every eligible student who requested a season ticket for football received one,” said ticket operations manager Wendy Whittington said. “We had a little more than 18,000 requests from students and every one of those students received the full home season package.”
The Athletic Association sets aside 18,026 student seats per home game. This year, full-season tickets were awarded to 18,645, according to documents obtained by The Red & Black. This makes 629 more tickets than seats.
University Chief of Police Jimmy Williamson said this isn’t a problem because the games never have 100 percent attendance in the student section.
“Historically, if only 80 percent of the students are showing up, would there be a problem offering 10 percent more students the availability to come to the game? No, because we’d still be under the projected number of seats that would be occupied,” Williamson said.
However, students contend that the games have been crowded, as more fans have come, due to late-night game times and the team’s improved play.
Williamson did say that overbooking seats could become a safety problem, though he didn’t believe it was an issue at Georgia.
“Under the fire code, we’re only supposed to allow the number of people that we have seats for,” Williamson said.
Senior linguistics major Alex Huckabee and her roommate experienced this firsthand at the Vanderbilt Commodores game on Sept. 22, as reported previously by the Red & Black.
“After the first quarter we came down to get concessions and right before we walked out I spoke to one of the security officers at the entrance of the section,” Huckabee said. “I was like ‘Hey, we didn’t get wrist banded, we just got waved in. If we go get concessions will we be allowed back in?’”
The employee told them that they would not be allowed back in and then asked them to leave.
While seeking wristbands, Huckabee and her roommate were told that the stadium was out of them. They were directed to the crowded 300 section, which is shared with Greek organizations.
However, when they arrived at the 300 section, they realized there weren’t enough seats.
Matt Brachowski, the assistant athletic director for event management, said that ticketing officials did the right thing by redirecting the two students to the 300 levels.
“There’s always a demand and there’s always going to be a time where you run out of seats in the 100 level, and that’s why we have three locations for students for the 18,000 seats,” Brachowski said. “When the ones fill up in the lower levels, then the only ones left will be in the 300 level. At some point in time we’re going to run out of wristbands and seats in the lower levels.”
But the problem arises when 100 percent of the tickets are used, because bracelets run out and there aren’t enough seats left in the 300 levels to accommodate the surplus.
Students are relocated, but they aren’t guaranteed a seat.
“That section was absolutely packed with people, like, we had to go all the way to the top, it was packed, we couldn’t even sit down,” Huckabee said.
Brachowski said that the section was held to accommodate students, but that it was possible that lower sections were full, especially since those levels are traditionally occupied by fraternity seating.
Fraternities are often awarded wristbands prior to the game, which allows them to assure seats for their members.
“There are 20-something rows, so it's possible that by the time they got up there, the lower rows were full. That’s certainly understandable,” Brachowski said.
Members of fraternities are not always asked to wear their wristbands, allowing them to redistribute the bands to anyone they choose. Huckabee said that while she was looking for a seat, she met a non-student who had a wristband.
“As we went on to get concessions we did ask someone who was standing there who had a wrist band,” Huckabee said. “She was like, ‘I don’t know, somebody in a frat gave it to me’… She really didn’t appear to be a student.”
Non-students obtaining wristbands take more seats away from the approximately 600 people already displaced, if all the students attend — which is likely in highly-touted matchups, such as Tennessee earlier this season and upcoming Georgia Tech.
Wristbands are easy to get — only a student ID is required. Students with general admissions tickets and alumni who still have their ID can get into the section, while other times, attendants won’t even check for the wristbands, adding to the confusion.
Correction: A previous version of this story contained incorrect information. Student sections at Sanford Stadium are not crowded because too many student ticket packages were sold, but because non-students are sitting in the student section. An updated story reveals fewer students attending the games than tickets allotted. The Red & Black regrets the error.