Georgia AD gives update on renovations to Sanford Stadium, athletic facilities

Credit: Jason Getz /

Credit: Jason Getz /

A number of facilities and construction updates came out of Georgia’s Athletic Association Board of Directors meeting Tuesday.

In May 2022, UGA’s athletic board approved $90.2 million for two construction projects: renovating Sanford Stadium and building a new indoor court facility at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex, the Lindsey Hopkins Indoor Tennis Facility.

Construction on both projects is underway, with the new tennis facility scheduled to be finished in December.

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Phase 1 of the Sanford Stadium renovations are focused on improvements to the south side of the venue, including expanding the previously narrow south-side concourse on the 100 level, adding more restrooms and improvements to Gate 9.

Construction is on schedule, per Georgia athletic director Josh Brooks, with Phase 1 set to be completed in August, and Phase 2 set to run from December 2023 to August 2024 (that will involve adding a new press box and converting the old press box to club seating). Because of Phase 1 construction, the south side of Sanford Stadium will be closed for G-Day, Georgia’s spring game, as it was last month for the celebration of Georgia’s latest national championship.

Also for football, a design study is in progress for the Vince Dooley Exhibit, to honor the late Georgia legendary coach and athletic director, at Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall in the Circle of Champions. The target construction start is the summer of 2023.

Credit: Design courtesy of UGA Athletics

Credit: Design courtesy of UGA Athletics


Effective for the 2023-24 season, two big seating changes will go into effect at Stegeman Coliseum. First, student seating is shifting over one section and sliding all the way to the lower sideline, closer to the court. It will extend to section T, giving students more seating closer to the floor and sideline, essentially being closer to the action. A donor premium area in sections K-P, the horseshoe end of the arena, also will be added.

Second, season ticket holders will be put in locations proportionate to their support, with seat-selection priority based on points and longevity (meaning consecutive years).

The hope, especially with bringing the student section closer to the floor, is to make Stegeman a more intimidating place to play. To further help those efforts, men’s basketball will switch its bench area with the visiting team, so that opponents are shooting against Georgia’s student section in the second half (this already is in effect for women’s basketball).

“(Georgia basketball coach Mike White) is a very pragmatic guy, and he’s patient, but these were some of those early things,” Brooks said. “One thing we’re looking into as well is a new weight room for basketball at the coliseum. That’s something we’re working on as well. But this was a big thing. When he first got here he said, ‘This is a great arena. It’s got great potential, but we’ve got to do something more to make it more intimidating.’ We had to do something to reset it, and the first evidence of that was Stegmania, when we had an opportunity to see what it looked like.

“Having those students down low, having that vision and being able to say, ‘Man, if we could have them down here, this would really impact the game.’ You can see it even now. The students will be the first ones to stand up, and then they impact the crowd. It was important to him, and he’s been very appreciative that we’ve been able to get this rolling and have it in place for next year.”

Credit: Courtesy of UGA

Credit: Courtesy of UGA

Baseball and softball

In addition, the design process for renovations to baseball’s Foley Field and softball’s Jack Turner Stadium is still ongoing, with inflation for construction costs adding a wrinkle to that project (in February 2022, the athletic board approved $950,000 to start an architectural study to renovate Foley Field, also allotting $850,000 to renovate Jack Turner Stadium).

The full-project funding requests are set for spring of 2023, with construction to begin summer of 2023. Phase 2 of construction would begin in the summer of 2024.

Right now, the priority is on amenities and features that would specifically benefit the athletes, Brooks said. For example, a weight room for softball and a pitching lab for baseball.

“We’re very close,” Brooks said of the design process. “It’s frustrating for us, it’s frustrating for the coaches in these times of inflation. Every time you go back and do pricing, the prices have gone up. The escalation has been record-setting these past couple of years. When you get back those numbers, you want to say ‘OK, we can keep raising money, but let’s really be efficient in what we’re doing.’ Sometimes it’s just good practice to go back to the drawing board and say, what’s really important. For me, my message to our coaches has been, yeah we want to get the fan amenities, but first and foremost, let’s focus on the player, student-athlete experiences first. That’s the first thing that is going to impact recruiting. But also as we try to keep student-athletes healthy, trained and developed.

“An indoor pitching lab, having that indoor fielding and hitting area for softball. That turf area in softball that we’re talking about will also be a general area that soccer could go in and get some functional work in as well. It’s good practice. Sometimes we always want to feel like we go, go, go. This has probably been a good time for us to take a step back and really dig into the plans and see how we can be efficient with layouts and spaces. Sometimes when you’re looking at elevation changes, where you put a building can drive the cost as well. And does it connect, and is it a free-standing building? As time-consuming as it has been, it’s been a good exercise for our staff to go through this process. I am hoping inflation costs start to decrease a little bit.”

Credit: Courtesy of UGA

Credit: Courtesy of UGA