$68.5M Sanford Stadium project to highlight UGA board meeting

Aerial view of Sanford Stadium at the University of Georgia in Athens on Friday, June 11, 2021. With a $25 million expansion completed in 2003 and another $8 million in 2004, Sanford Stadium added a second upper deck on the north side and 27 new north side SkySuites bringing the new stadium capacity to 92,746 - the fifth largest on-campus stadium in the country. UGA's athletic department plans to add a new entry way to the southwest corner in a $68.5 million renovation project that will widen the concourse on the 100 level. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

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Aerial view of Sanford Stadium at the University of Georgia in Athens on Friday, June 11, 2021. With a $25 million expansion completed in 2003 and another $8 million in 2004, Sanford Stadium added a second upper deck on the north side and 27 new north side SkySuites bringing the new stadium capacity to 92,746 - the fifth largest on-campus stadium in the country. UGA's athletic department plans to add a new entry way to the southwest corner in a $68.5 million renovation project that will widen the concourse on the 100 level. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

GREENSBORO – Facilities and budgets will be the primary topics of conversation over the next two days as the Georgia Athletic Association board of directors meets here at the Ritz-Carlton Lodge on Lake Oconee.

It’s the annual end-of-the-year meeting for the Bulldogs’ governing body. The group is expected to approve a record budget and get updates on the latest construction projects, including a renovation of the South grandstand and concourse at Sanford Stadium and the construction of a new indoor tennis facility.

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The biggest action item on the agenda Thursday is expected to be a request from Athletic Director Josh Brooks to fund the Sanford Stadium project. He told the board’s finance and development committee last week that it will cost about $68.5 million to widen the lower-level concourse and add a new entryway off Gillis Bridge, restrooms, concession stands and a press box to the Gate 9 area of the 94-year-old stadium.

That area long has been the source of complaints for fans because of congestion and antiquated amenities.

“These are decade-old problems,” Brooks told the committee during a video-conference meeting. “I’m talking 30-, 40-year-old problems that we just haven’t addressed yet. It’s always been difficult, and it took a lot of planning to find the best way to do it.”

Construction will be done in two phases, the first of which will be completed before the 2023 season. Phase 2 will be completed before the ‘24 season and will include a new press box in the atop the southwest corner of the stadium. It will replace the Dan Magill Press Box, which has long occupied the expanse between the 30-yard lines on the south-side club level. That will be converted to premium-seating space for donors.

Not expected to get any formal discussion this week is the status of coach Kirby Smart’s contract. The Bulldogs’ football coach is expected to receive a raise and extension after leading Georgia to its first national championship in that sport in 41 years last season. Negotiations between UGA and Smart’s agent, Jimmy Sexton of Creative Artist Agency (CAA), have been ongoing since January and have been described by Brooks as productive and amicable.

Smart, 46, makes $7.1 million annually in his current deal with the Bulldogs, which was extended in 2018 through the 2025 season. Including $1.8 million in bonuses earned through Georgia’s run to the national title last season, Smart cleared $8.9 million last year. A new deal is expected to be in place before preseason practices commence in August.

Lincoln Riley, who recently left Oklahoma to become Southern Cal’s coach, is thought to be the highest-paid college football coach. He signed a 10-year contract worth $110 million, according to published reports.

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