Georgia’s Stegeman Coliseum to get nation’s largest indoor video board

This graphic is a rendering of what the proposed new video board -- expected to be the biggest of its kind indoors in the U.S. -- will look like when it is added iat Stegeman Coliseum before the 2025-26 basketball season. Funding for the project was approved by the UGA Athletic Association's Board of Directors meeting on Thursday at Lake Oconee. (Provided by UGA Athletic Association).

Credit: Chip Towers

Credit: Chip Towers

This graphic is a rendering of what the proposed new video board -- expected to be the biggest of its kind indoors in the U.S. -- will look like when it is added iat Stegeman Coliseum before the 2025-26 basketball season. Funding for the project was approved by the UGA Athletic Association's Board of Directors meeting on Thursday at Lake Oconee. (Provided by UGA Athletic Association).

GREENSBORO — The Georgia Bulldogs are going big for basketball.

The Georgia Athletic Association’s board of directors Thursday unveiled plans to construct at Stegeman Coliseum what it claims will be the largest collegiate indoor video board in the U.S. The mammoth 6,000 square-foot screen will encompass almost the entire wall on the east of end of the 60-year-old arena. The video board – and numerous other additions and improvements – won’t be ready September 2025.

UGA officials said San Jose State held the previous record for largest collegiate indoor video board. That screen, unveiled in 2023, stands 15.5 feet high by 75.5 feet wide – or about 1,200-square feet, according to its website.

“It wasn’t just about making it the biggest,” Georgia Athletic Director Josh Brooks said. “That organically happened. It was really about using and utilizing that space.”

The new video board is not the only improvement coming for the old building some like to call “The Stegosaurus.” There will be a high-end premium seating space and lounge built underneath the giant scoreboard and another in a location on the opposite end of the arena.

Brooks would not share the price tag for ambitious project, but he is expected to request funding from the athletic board, possibly as early as Friday.

Brooks dismisses assertions that Georgia would have been better served building a brand-new arena somewhere on campus.

“First of all, I love Stegeman,” he said. “I think it’s got a lot of good parts to it. The cost of building a new arena in today’s dollars would be astronomical. It wouldn’t be a good use of funding. For a lot less, a fraction, we can keep doing what we’ve been doing with renovation. The amount we’ve put into it is nowhere near what it could take to build a new arena of that size.”

Meanwhile, the city of Athens is building a downtown arena that apparently could accommodate at least 6,000 for basketball. Stegeman Coliseum currently seats 10,523.

The video board was one of numerous items discussed at the full board’s end-of-school-year meeting, held annually here at the Ritz-Carlton Lodge on Lake Oconee, an hour southeast of Athens. The group will convene again Friday, at which time a record-breaking budget for Fiscal Year 2025 is expected to be approved.

Other news to come out of Thursday’s meeting included:

Price hike coming?

It sounds like it.

Brooks stopped short of saying that a Georgia football ticket increase definitely will happen, but he acknowledged that Georgia football’s ticket prices – “which are in the bottom third of the SEC” – are being closely scrutinized and compared with others nationwide over the summer. He said the subject will be revisited at the board’s fall meeting.

“Potentially,” Brooks said of a price hike. “But there’s still more work to be done right now. ... If you’ve noticed the way we operate, we don’t like to just do things on a whim. We like to be very studied and measured before we do it. We’ve still got some work to do to measure that, and we’ll make sure we have the right plan that we think is fair and equitable.”

Georgia has not raised football ticket prices since 2017. However, seat-priority points, which are based on donations for the right to buy tickets, have risen sharply along with the Bulldogs’ on-field success in recent years.

Brooks emphasized during his presentation to the board that their ticket discussions will not include a “re-seating” and reallocation based ticket priority.

Money still coming in

So far, at least, money doesn’t seem to be a problem for the Bulldogs. The board’s treasury and finance report won’t come until Friday, but Brooks did congratulate Ford Williams, UGA’s executive director of major gifts, for his staff’s ability to continue to bring in donor money at a high rate. Brooks said athletics raised $113 million in the last fiscal year.

“I keep telling Ford, ‘I don’t know how much longer you can keep going and you can keep setting those records,’ but this year was a phenomenal year,” Brooks said. “A lot had to do with building the new premium space in the old press-box space at the stadium. A lot of people donated to be able to get into that area. It was such a highly sought-after area, and they knew they needed to a certain tier point to be able to get in. That helped, but another record year.”

Georgia is converting the southside club-level area of Sanford Stadium that housed the Dan Magill Press Box into a premium seating for donors. A new area press box is being erected atop a tower that will be attached to the southwest corner addition. Completion of all the south-side construction is scheduled for August. Event management director Matt Brachowski does not expect any delays that would affect the start of football season. The Bulldogs’ first home game is Sept. 7.

Georgia set a goal two years ago of raising $300 million in five years. Not even to the halfway point, the Bulldogs already are at $176 million.

House vs. NCAA

As Georgia’s athletic board was meeting, the SEC apparently was heavily involved in negotiations to settle the “House vs. NCAA” case and related antitrust lawsuits. On Wednesday, the NCAA Board of Governors followed the Big Ten, Big 12 and ACC in voting to settle rather than continue to fight through litigation.

A settlement is expected to lead to schools establishing a framework to share TV and ticket revenue with athletes and create a fund that would provide restitution to former athletes who were not allowed to sign name, image and likeness deals. That fund reportedly will be worth upward of $2.7 billion, according to an ESPN report.

As of Thursday, the SEC and Pac-12 were the only conferences that had not signed a settlement agreement.

Georgia President Jere Morehead is a member of the NCAA’s board. He sent the UGAA board into executive session for 32 minutes to brief members about the latest developments.

“Well, we’re still going through a very detailed and slow process that is likely to go on for several months,” Morehead said when asked about it after the board meeting. “I think I’m going to defer to (SEC) Commissioner (Greg) Sankey on making any public statements related to these settlement negotiations. I don’t know when he’ll comment, but I’d rather him comment on the litigation.”

Basketball coaches weigh in

Speaking of Stegeman, men’s and women’s basketball coaches Mike White and Katie Abrahamson-Henderson briefed the board on their programs’ progress in a panel discussion moderated by deputy AD Darrice Griffin.

White’s men’s team improved from six to 16 wins in Year 1 and won 20 games last season, and the Bulldogs finished runner-up in the NIT. Georgia was the only team in the country whose latest recruiting class ranked top 10 nationally in portal additions and freshman signees. Apparently they signed another player “48 hours ago,” though White did not identify him.

Meanwhile, White thought he made a mistake last year by emphasizing so prominently the team’s NCAA Tournament hopes.

“That’s something we experimented with, and it backfired on us,” White said. “We talked about it all year, and that’s something we as a staff decided to do. We’ve always in the past been process-driven, staying in the moment, all those cliches. ... That’s something we’re going to get away from this year.”

Abrahamson-Henderson’s team went the opposite way. After making a deep run in her first season, Georgia missed the NCAA Tournament this past season. However, she said they expected a “transition year.”

“Our culture was already set our first year, so we were a little spoiled,” Abrahamson-Henderson said. “Last year we knew it was going to be a transition year because we lost so many of those culture players and we were young. This year, we’re super excited. We have a great freshman class coming in, and I’m a builder.”

Much to brag about

The board’s first day primarily was a “bragfest.” Football coach Kirby Smart was a big part of that of discussion.

Brooks pointed out that the Bulldogs’ ninth-year coach has won the most games by a first-time head coach than any other in history. After the recent run of winning 47 of their past 49 games, Smart is 94-16 as Georgia’s coach.

He also pointed that the Bulldogs’ 63 NFL draft picks also are the most of any coach in the first eight years of his tenure at a school. The next bests are 42 by Pete Carroll at Southern Cal and 41 by Nick Saban at Alabama.

Georgia athletes boasted a 3.24 cumulative GPA this spring, marking the highest semester on record (not including the COVID-19 2020 spring semester). The previous high was a 3.22 GPA in the fall of 2022.

“We continue to raise the bar,” Brooks said. “We had the academic record of 3.22 in 2022 and 3.24 in 2024. Now the pressures on the academic staff to keep it going.”

Seventy-one percent of UGA athletes earned a 3.0 or above in spring semester. Women’s swimming and diving had the highest team GPA this semester with a 3.64, edging out volleyball, which had a 3.635. Men’s tennis led all men’s teams with a 3.60 semester GPA.