UGA predicts football ticket price increases next year

The Georgia Athletic Association’s board of directors approved a record $99.85 million budget and the use of $2.12 million toward new projects for the next fiscal year. But the highlight of the end-of-the-year meeting was something that won’t likely take place until next year.

Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity casually mentioned in his report to the board that it could expect a recommendation for a “modest increase” in football ticket prices before the 2015 season.

“We’re going to talk about that in the fall,” McGarity said after the two-hour meeting. “As we all can see in the budget, we have limited ways to generate revenue. Unless we have increases in SEC money — and nobody knows what the new TV network is going to generate — football is the only real revenue source that we have.”

McGarity pointed out that Georgia hasn’t increased the price of football tickets since 2008. He said the cost of a home-game ticket — $40 per season tickets and $45 for single games — ranks among the bottom third of the SEC’s 14 member schools.

McGarity didn’t want to be “tagged with a number” in terms of projecting a specific price. He said the athletic association has enlisted the Georgia Bulldog Club’s advisory board to consult with them about it.

Meanwhile, ticket sales continue to go well for the Bulldogs. McGarity reported that Georgia has sold its allotment of 55,000 season tickets for next season, and donations of $24.3 million to the Hartman Fund (required for the right to buy season tickets) exceeded projections by $1 million.

Georgia currently does not have any projected revenues in its budget for the new SEC Network, which is set to launch in August. McGarity said there are preliminary costs involved, and there is no way to project if and when it might start to bring in money for the member schools.

To that end, the board approved spending $921,800 from its reserves to upgrade the scoreboard control room at Sanford Stadium. The technological improvements will create the high-definition streaming capabilities from there and Georgia’s other facilities required by the new network.

Other allocations from the reserve fund will go toward sound-system improvements at Sanford Stadium ($950,000) and adding a video board inside the Nalley multipurpose facility ($250,000) at the football complex.

UGA spent $14.3 million out of its reserves last year. Nearly $12 million of that went toward the renovation and improvements of Foley Field, which will begin next week. That has left Georgia’s projected reserves for Fiscal Year 2015 at $62.9 million.

What won’t come out of this budget will be money for an indoor practice facility for football, but that’s probably coming down the road, McGarity said.

“It’s on a list of numerous things,” he said. “We are quietly trying to do a few things where we can see if there’s maybe some interest from some former NFL players. We’re floating it out there very quietly, but that’ll be something at some point in time we’ll discuss with our board.”

Georgia and Florida are the only two of the 14 SEC institutions without an indoor facility for football. McGarity said he expects a price tag of about $15 million to build one.

The most noteworthy report for President Jere Morehead was news of the academic accomplishments of UGA’s athletes. NCAA (and Olympic) champion swimmer Shannon Vreeland was named the SEC’s Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete of the Year and will receive a $15,000 post-graduate scholarship at the SEC meetings in Destin next week.

“Winning the Boyd McWhorter award is a singular achievement for an athletic program,” Morehead said. “I served as faculty athletics representative for seven years, so I’ve been in those meetings where the top male and female student-athletes are represented.

“When you think about how many outstanding student-athletes compete in the conference, for us to receive the designation of having the top student-athlete in the conference is a singular accomplishment.”