Future Tech home games at Mercedes-Benz Stadium expected

Georgia Tech has announced a news conference for Tuesday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, with officials from the AMB Group (the parent company of the stadium and the Falcons) and the Peach Bowl to be present. It’s expected that it will be an announcement for the Yellow Jackets to play a handful of future home games there. The presence of Peach Bowl CEO Gary Stokan at the news conference suggests his organization’s involvement as well.

Holding marquee games in the $1.6 billion sports temple likely would help Tech’s bottom line and perhaps draw attention to coach Geoff Collins’ team while also providing the stadium with additional events. While the 2019 schedule is set, Tech does play Clemson and Notre Dame in 2020 (the latter scheduled for Nov. 14). As a potential organizer, the Peach Bowl could generate money for charities and scholarships.

As a result of its coaching transition, Tech’s athletic department finds itself in a financial pinch and perhaps more interested than usual in moving home games out of Bobby Dodd Stadium for the right price. The change from Paul Johnson to Collins cost about $6 million, and the athletic department was already anticipating running a deficit of $2.8 million for the 2020 fiscal year. The changeover will deplete the department’s reserve fund, which stood at about $6.65 million at the start of the fiscal year in July.

The athletic department projects to have the reserve fund restored to $5 million by fiscal year 2023.

Without money in the reserve fund, “it just doesn’t give you that cushion that you would like to have,” Tech athletic director Todd Stansbury said in January. “All of the sudden, you don’t have much of a rainy-day fund. And that’s what the fund balance is for, for unforeseen circumstances — transitioning a football staff, something like that.”

Either through a guarantee or receiving gate receipts, Tech would stand to draw revenues at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (capacity: 71,000) greater than what it would receive playing at Bobby Dodd Stadium (55,000). For the 2017 season opener against Tennessee in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Tech received $2.85 million from the Peach Bowl. 

Moving to a larger stadium, however, invites the potential for more fans of Clemson or Notre Dame (or another opponent) to be cheering for the opposition at a Tech home game. Tech home sellouts typically have a noticeable percentage of visiting fans.

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