Georgia Tech has a third appearance in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game coming in three years’ time. The Yellow Jackets will play Louisville in the 2023 season opener at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the Peach Bowl and Tech announced Wednesday.
The game is part of Tech’s six-year contract with AMB Sports and Entertainment (AMBSE) – the parent company of the Falcons, Atlanta United and the stadium – to play one game annually there between 2021 and 2026. Tech also will play Clemson in one of two kickoff games scheduled for 2022, the other being Georgia-Oregon. The Jackets’ first played in the highly visible game in 2017 against Tennessee, a double-overtime loss.
As is the case with the 2022 Chick-fil-A Kickoff game, Tech will have priority in ticket sales for the Louisville game in 2023. The game will be part of Tech’s season-ticket package, and season-ticket purchasers will have priority access to preferred seating options.
“It’s another great opportunity for Georgia Tech and our student-athletes to showcase our program and our culture in the world’s premier football stadium, in one of college football’s premier games and in the heart of downtown Atlanta, less than a mile from our campus,” coach Geoff Collins said in a statement.
Tech created the series with AMBSE in 2019, initially a five-year deal to start in 2020 with a game against Notre Dame. While giving up a home game at Bobby Dodd Stadium, Tech athletic director Todd Stansbury and Collins saw opportunities in revenue creation, recruiting and exposure to shift games to the $1.6 billion sports palace located about a mile from campus.
The pandemic led Tech to move the 2020 Notre Dame game back to Bobby Dodd Stadium, and Tech and AMBSE moved the agreement back a year and added a sixth game.
The Louisville game will be played Sept. 2, 2023, a Saturday on Labor Day weekend. The game will be broadcast on either ABC or ESPN. It will be the third meeting between the Jackets and Cardinals. The second was Tech’s 46-27 win at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Oct. 9 this season.
“In addition to the excitement that playing in one of the world’s best sports venues affords to our student-athletes and fans, being a part of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game gives us the chance to display our program, our institution and our city to what is always a large national television audience,” Stansbury said in a statement.
Tech already was scheduled to play Louisville at home in 2023 as part of the league’s inter-division rotation. The teams’ game this season was created through the adoption of a 10-game league schedule (different from the standard eight-game schedule) and was outside of the rotation.
Of the six games to be played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, three opponents and dates have been determined – Clemson on Sept. 5, 2022, Louisville in 2023 and Notre Dame on Oct. 19, 2024, leaving 2021, 2025 and 2026 unscheduled. For 2021, Tech’s ACC home schedule consists of Boston College, North Carolina, Pitt and Virginia Tech. Tech also plays Georgia, Kennesaw State and Northern Illinois, but the Georgia game, at least, will not be an option to move to MBS. It would seem that the most likely candidates are North Carolina and Virginia Tech. The ACC schedule is generally released in mid-to-late January.
While Tech was to originally rent the stadium from AMBSE for the 2023 game, the agreement is now between Tech and the Peach Bowl, a deal similar to the one struck for the 2022 Chick-fil-A Kickoff game with Clemson. The contract for that game stipulates that Tech will receive a $5 million payment and in exchange will be obligated to sell or purchase about 37,500 of the tickets in the 71,000-seat stadium. Clemson will receive an allotment of 4,300.
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Credit: Doug Roberson/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution