In reducing McCamish capacity, Tech will not sell tickets to fans

Georgia Tech guard Jose Alvarado (10) goes to the basket in the first half Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018, at McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta.
Georgia Tech guard Jose Alvarado (10) goes to the basket in the first half Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018, at McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta.

Credit: Hyosub Shin

Credit: Hyosub Shin

Georgia Tech will limit capacity for its men’s basketball home games at McCamish Pavilion to 1,200, which is 14% of building capacity. Tickets, however, will not be for sale for Yellow Jackets fans. The athletic department released the information Friday.

Of the 1,200 seats, 900 will be reserved for Tech students, and the remaining 300 will be distributed to guests of team members, coaches and athletic-department staff. There will not be tickets available to the general public.

Tech’s reduced-capacity plans are in line with other ACC teams that have announced their reductions. Six other schools – Clemson, Florida State, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Virginia and Virginia Tech – plan to limit attendance between 7% and 24% of their respective arenas' capacities. A seventh, Duke, will restrict attendance to only essential game-management personnel and broadcast media. Many teams have yet to make their attendance plans public.

Of the six, though, all plan to make at least some tickets available to fans for purchase. In a statement, athletic director Todd Stansbury cited the maintenance of campus safety as the motivation behind the limitations. Through a rigorous testing on-campus testing program and adherence to safety protocols, Tech’s COVID-19 positivity rate over the past seven days was .86% as of Friday, a remarkably low figure. The state of Georgia’s rate as of Friday was 8.7%, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

Keeping fans away from campus is a way of controlling community spread, although the plan does still allow for 300 visitors to campus, a group that figures to be heavy with donors.

In a statement, Stansbury said, “While it’s disappointing that we won’t be able to give more fans the opportunity to see our exciting men’s basketball team live in action at McCamish Pavilion this season, we feel that this plan offers the best way to maintain the safety of our ‘campus bubble,’ provide a safe opportunity for our students to socialize, create additional incentive for students and staff to continue to participate in campus-wide Covid-19 surveillance testing, and navigate the health and safety challenges that come with hosting fans and playing a sport in an indoor venue.”

Stansbury will forego ticket revenue at a time when the athletic department is in dire need of it. The athletic department generally counts on sales from tickets and associated revenue to generate about $25 million annually. In a recent podcast distributed by the athletic department, Stansbury said that the athletic department had reached a little more than $9 million in limited ticket sales from football and associated contributions to the Tech Fund and contributions to Support the Swarm, an initiative asking fans to convert planned payments for tickets into donations to the athletic department.

Stansbury’s goal is to reach $15 million.

The news release also announced an incentive package for fans to make a donation with money set aside for basketball tickets, including offers of cutouts that will be placed in McCamish Pavilion, invitations to virtual “chalk talks” with members of the coaching staff and Tech gear.

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