Georgia fans are finally going to find out if they can get football tickets this fall.
The UGA Athletic Association sent an email Wednesday morning asking its 14,000-plus donors to “opt in” or “opt out” to buy tickets for the truncated 2020 football season. The document detailed a ticket plan that would allow for as many as 23,000 fans to attend each of the Bulldogs’ four games in Sanford Stadium this season.
Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity said he is confident that it can be done safely.
“People can elect to come to our games, so those who do come certainly would have a level of risk as they move towards the stadium,” McGarity said in a conference call with reporters. “We’re thinking with the numbers we will have, it will be like a rainy G-Day game. That may be what the crowd looks like. You’ve got a stadium of 90,000, and you’re populating it with only 20-25 percent of that. So the stadium is going to look sporadic for sure.”
Who gets in is now the main question. The Bulldogs have been holding onto donors’ contributions since April, when the coronavirus pandemic was still a relatively new phenomenon. Since then, the SEC has decided to play a 10-game, conference-only schedule to his set to begin Sept. 26. Georgia will host four home games at Sanford Stadium -- Auburn (Oct. 3), Tennessee (Oct. 10), Mississippi State (Nov. 21) and Vanderbilt (Dec. 5) -- and will play a fifth one against Florida as a neutral-site game in Jacksonville, Fla.
UGA told donors Wednesday that Sanford Stadium will be set up at no more 25 percent capacity, which must accommodate donors, players’ families from both teams, students and faculty and staff.
Tickets are being sold only in four-seat blocks and will be made available according to donors’ status in The Georgia Bulldog Club’s priority-points system. Leading donors will be able to buy tickets to all four of the home games, while those with a lower status will get tickets to fewer games. According to a chart included on the email, this is how it will break down:
- Silver Circle members (who have donated $1 million or more over the years) and Magill Society members who have donated $250,000 or more will get four tickets for all four games.
- Magill members who have given between $25,000 and $249,000 and Hartman Fund members who have given more than $5,000 will get four seats for two games.
- All donors below the $5,000 mark will be eligible for four seats to one game.
Depending on how many donors decide to opt in, some of the season-ticket holders might not be accommodated. Donors will have one week to respond, or by Aug. 26.
The seats will be scattered throughout all sections of 92,746-seat Sanford Stadium in blocks of four with social-distancing space in between each. The locations likely will be different than donors are accustomed to in normal seasons.
Single tickets will be sold for $150 apiece, $75 of which is considered a donation. That total – a maximum of $2,400, or $600 a game – will be deducted from the amount that donors contributed in April.
Georgia is incentivizing donors (or those that choose to opt out) to donate their balance to the “COVID-19 UGA Athletics Fund.” That fund will be used to defray the extra costs UGA is incurring for “mission-critical resources” for Georgia’s 550 athletes for things such as medical testing, technology and other special measure to combat the pandemic.
Those who contribute to the COVID-19 fund will be offered triple the priority points (per $1 donated) toward next year’s tickets. Those who opt-out and choose to be refunded will lose those points from their total score.
The donations are being solicited because UGA said in the email that it is in a “must-have mode” because of reduced revenue and extra expenditures expected as a result of health and safety precautions.
Georgia is expected to get about 10,000 tickets for the Nov. 7 game in Florida. Those also will be sold in blocks of four and will be determined purely on donor status. That determination will be made separately of the Bulldogs’ four home games.
Students also will receive a reduced ticket allotment for home games. UGA normally reserves 16,000 tickets per home game for students. They’re expected to get about 3,500 under the plan. It’s not yet known how it will be determined who gets them.
UGA will not offer any tickets road games. SEC teams are expected to receive about 500 each, which will be used for visiting-team families.
Not everybody is sure whether they will attend Georgia’s home games. One Silver Circle member, which is Georgia’s highest donor level, said he hasn’t decided.
“I’m going to get my tickets but, until I see it and digest it, I’m not sure what I’m going to do,” he said. “I don’t think we’re going to be in a normal mode of operation. More than likely I’ll just take care of the younger people in our family.”
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