ST. SIMONS ISLAND—Fans will pay more for their tickets to see the Georgia-Florida football game starting in 2012.
UGA’s Athletic Association Board of Directors Thursday morning approved ticket price increases for next year, but delayed voting on a proposal for additional raises in 2014 and 2017.
Regular tickets will rise from $40 to $60 in 2012 and club seating will go up from $70 to $100. It’s the first ticket increase for the game in Jacksonville since 2007.
A plan to hike the price of regular tickets to $70 in 2014 and $75 in 2017 was tabled. Club seating would have increased to $110 in 2014 and $120 in 2017.
“If you look at the other schools that play these traditional games—games of this magnitude—we are well, well below the curve and have been for a number years,” Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity told the board at the King and Prince Golf & Beach Resort. “While it may have some sticker shock today, I think we’ll always be a little below market or right at the market.”
Tickets for this year’s Army-Navy game in Washington, D.C. range from $72 to $175. A ticket for the Texas-Oklahoma `Red River’ rivalry game was $110 last year, and the Auburn-Alabama `Iron Bowl’ last year at Alabama was $65.
Some on the board suggested delaying the vote for 2014 and 2017 so the prices wouldn’t be set years in advance in case the board wanted to revisit the price later.
The 2012 price increase is expected to generate an additional $1.779 million in revenue.
A Georgia fan would have needed to make $11,000 in lifetime contributions to the “Hartman Fund” for the right to purchase tickets for last year’s Florida game, said Carolyn Center, the Athletic Association’s director of development.
Despite a 6-7 record for Georgia in 2010—the first losing year since 1996—contributions to the Hartman fund increased from $22.7 million last year to $23 million.
“That’s good news,” McGarity said.
“Let’s don’t test that again,” UGA president Michael Adams cracked.
Florida’s athletic board already approved the 2012 ticket change last fall. It will meet in June to discuss the 2014 and 2017 increases, said McGarity, who worked in the athletic administration at Florida for 18 years under athletic director Jeremy Foley before returning to Georgia last summer.
“Jeremy and I have discussed having something planned there that is more scheduled and is not dependent upon who’s having success one year or not having success one year,” McGarity said.
Florida, as Georgia fans know all too well, have had the Bulldogs’ number in the series the last couple of decades, winning 18 of the last 21 games.
“Winning or losing always matters, but those that have been in this area on the weekend of the game, it’s a lot more than football,” McGarity said. “This game has been going on for so long that it’s a tradition like none other.”
In other matters discussed or voted on Thursday:
Baseball coach David Perno will return next season, McGarity said, ending any speculation. Georgia needs to finish above .500 after the SEC tournament to have a chance to avoid missing out on an NCAA bid for the second straight season.
“Dave’s coming back next year,” McGarity said after the meeting. “Bottom-line, I haven’t had a second thought about that.”
Georgia went 16-14 in the SEC this season, but one of the nation’s toughest schedules hindered its postseason chances.
McGarity mentioned the “art of scheduling,” to set up for the postseason. He had scheduling discussions back in the fall with Perno. Georgia played 22 games against those currently in the top 25, going 3-6 in nonconference top 25 games. It had 41 games against top 50 RPI teams before Thursday, going 4-11 against non-conference top 50.
McGarity would like to see Georgia play about 37 home games and about 18 road games in a season. Next year’s schedule, he said, isn’t as taxing. The most prominent nonconference games besides Clemson and Georgia Tech will be a three-game series with UCLA.
–The Athletic board approved an $89.95 million projected budget for fiscal year 2012, up from $84.75 million this past year.
Georgia is spending $737,000 on what it calls “student-athlete welfare,” by adding two new nutritionists, a sports psychologist, a training table meal and a mentor program for football.
–The board also approved $1.61 million for projects that include $675,000 for a new Stegeman Coliseum sound system that will improve the sound distribution throughout the arena used for basketball, gymnastics and graduation. Another $200,000 will be spend on precast clips at Sanford Stadium to prevent potential structural issues and $215,000 for design studies including at Foley Field for improved accessibility for those that are disabled.
–McGarity will hold a staff retreat this summer focused on customer service that will include a presentation from representatives from Chick-fil-A. McGarity wants everything from concessions to the restrooms to the parking to be well-received from fans.
“I think the little things become big things especially when you’re in a competitive environment for the sports dollar,” McGarity said.
Football tight end Aron White and swimmer Chelsea Nauta were named student-athlete representatives to the board. White is entering his senior season and working on his master’s in sports management.
–Please follow me at Twitter.com/marcweiszer