Sanford Stadium, between me and the hedges

Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia is one of the largest stadiums in the country with a rich history. But what do we really know about it? To find out, BroncoCountry's own 1 boise bro asked a hedge....

 

People have been known to converse with inanimate objects. For instance, they yell at their televisions. They speak to their cars. (Well, some guys do.) They even talk to their plants.
 
So when the Almighty Sovereigns of BroncoCountry bequeathed to me the magnificent quest of researching Georgia's Sanford Stadium, I figured, why don't I just ask the famous hedges?
 
So I did.

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1boisebro: It's a beautiful cool, dry day here in Athens, and I'm here at Sanford
Stadium with the world famous hedge.
 
Hedge: I am a hedge.
 
1bb: Yes, and a nice hedge you are.

Hedge: I am a hedge.

1bb: In fact, you're an English privet hedge, right?

Hedge: Yes.

1bb: What can you tell us about the history of this tremendous facility, Sanford Stadium? When was it constructed?

Hedge. Sanford Stadium was built over 75 years ago at a cost of $360,000. Back then, that was a lot of green. That is a hedge joke.

1bb: I got it. Very nice.

Hedge: I am a hedge. Sanford's first game was between Georgia and Yale in front of an overflowing crowd of 30,000 humans, a game which my Bulldogs won 15-0.

1bb: And a hedge?

Hedge: Yes. I was there in the early days, as well. I am an old hedge. It is said that my existence was an inspiration of the UGA athletic department's business manager Charlie Morton. Mister Morton had visited the Rose Bowl, which featured a hedge of roses. But because roses were not appropriate for Georgia's stadium location, and because English privet hedges are much more attractive and revered and intelligent and sexy and charming, they chose me instead.

1bb: A wise choice. But isn't it true that while the hedges were part of the original Sanford Stadium, you were removed in 1996 for the Olympics, and then replanted afterwards?

Hedge: Yes. There is truth in your words. I was removed from my home for a short time, and returned thereafter. Technically, I am a new hedge, but genetically identical to the original hedge as I was cultivated from it.

1bb: You say the original capacity was 30,000. Surely there have been many expansions.

Hedge: Many expansions, yes. Current capacity is 92,746. And one hedge.

1bb: That is an enormous facility. In fact, it's the fifth largest college football stadium in the country, and the second largest in the SEC, is it not?

Hedge: Yes. And it is the largest with hedge.

1bb: Does Sanford have luxury boxes?

Hedge: Not for hedges, no.

1bb: How about for fans?

Hedge: I am a fan. I am a hedge. I am a fan-hedge, or hedge-fan, or an, um, fedge.

1bb: How many luxury boxes for humans?

Hedge: I believe there are now 77.

1bb: Very impressive. What can you tell me about the stadium's namesake, Dr. Sanford. Did you know him?

Hedge: Oh yes. Dr. Steadman Vincent Stanford was very popular. A hedge lover. He arrived at the University in 1903, served as the University Dean from 1927 through 1932, and was President and Chancellor of the University system until 1935. It was in 1911 that he moved the University's football venue from Herty Field, a baseball field, to the center of campus. That new field was named Sanford Field in his honor. But no hedge.

1bb: Is that the same location the current stadium resides?

Hedge: No. The current stadium, and hedge, is located nearby in a natural valley with the stands built on the rising sides. Tanyard Creek, which ran through the valley, was enclosed in a concrete culvert, above which the field was constructed.

1bb: Why did Georgia build a new stadium?

Hedge: Because the old one was without hedge.

1bb: Of course. Any other reason?

Hedge: Yes. In the early no-hedge years, Georgia was forced to play its rival Georgia Tech at Tech's stadium in Atlanta, Grant Field, because it had a greater capacity than Sanford Field. Dr. Sanford wanted a venue on campus that was the equal of Georgia Tech's. In 1927, Georgia went into the Tech game undefeated at 9-0, but subsequently lost the game 12-0. It was rumored that Tech purposely over-watered the field to slow Georgia's running back humans. That was the final blow, and Sanford vowed to build a bigger, better stadium to ensure Tech would have to travel to Athens every other year.

1bb: It sounds as if Dr. Sanford was a passionate Bulldog football fan.

Hedge: He was. In fact, it was Dr. Sanford who convinced Yale to play Georgia in the first game at the new stadium in 1929. His life functions ceased in 1945, and has gone to the great hedge maze in the sky.

1bb: Great hedge maze?

Hedge: That is my understanding, yes.

1bb: You mentioned the first game against Yale.

Hedge: Yes.

1bb: You were there for that game.

Hedge: Yes. But I was only one foot tall, and was surrounded by a wooden fence to protect my young hedgnitude.

1bb: Tell me more about that game. Yale was a football powerhouse at that time, right?

Hedge: Oh yes. It was a glorious game. A Georgia player named Catfish Smith scored all of the points, catching a TD pass, returning a blocked punt for a TD, scoring an extra point and tackling a Yale human in the end zone for a safety. It was quite a thrill to witness his performance from hedge-level.

1bb: I'll bet it was. Georgia's had many wins at Sanford since then, haven't they?

Hedge: Yes. The bulldog humans have won nearly 280 games at Sanford. Their all-time home record between the hedges is 279-83-12, and their longest home winning streak was 24 games.

1bb: Does the date October 7, 2000, mean anything to you?

Hedge:

1bb: Mister Hedge?

Hedge: Terrible. Painful. Horrible. Awful. Wonderful.

1bb: Wonderful?

Hedge: October 7 of 2000 was the day Georgia defeated some volunteers from Tennessee, their first beating of those volunteers in 8 years. There was much jubilation and celebration. It was and remains the only time the goalposts were torn down in the history of the stadium. And... it... I...

1bb: Yes?

Hedge: I was injured during the celebration. Horribly, terribly injured. That is all I care to say about that dreadful, glorious day.

1bb: I'm glad to see you've fully recovered. In fact, perhaps the most unique aspect of Sanford is... well, you. The hedge.

Hedge: I am a hedge.

1bb: Why do you exist?

Hedge: I exist because long ago, a momma hedge and a papa hedge met, fell in love, and engaged in the passionate and pleasant physical activity of creating a baby hedge. Either that, or a sweaty southern gardener planted me. I forget which.

1bb: I mean, what is your purpose in Sanford Stadium, other than decorative.

Hedge: Oh. I protect the field from the Bulldog faithful, lest they become overzealous in triumph and attempt to commandeer the grounds for their own celebratory merriment.

1bb: An important and frequent necessity, to be sure.

Hedge: Yes, and I'm quite chic, too.

1bb: Indeed. The Boise State Broncos will be making their first appearance at Sanford this season between, well, you. Have you heard of the Broncos?

Hedge: Yes. I call them the Hedgeless Horsemen, for their stadium is devoid of hedge.

1bb: That's cute. Another tradition that takes place at Sanford before each game is Georgia's bulldog mascot, Uga, who leads the team onto the field.

Hedge. Yes. I am a hedge. He is a bulldog.

1bb: I suppose that, over the years, you've had a few, uh, "incidents" with Uga.

Hedge: I am a hedge who adores Uga.

1bb: So Uga never "relieved" himself on you? After all, dogs do love marking their territory, especially on trees, shrubs, hedges...

Hedge:

1bb: Mister Hedge?

Hedge:

1bb: Miste-

Hedge. Yes. Uga has frequently blessed me with his golden loin nectar, and for that I am grateful.

1bb: I see. Another unique aspect of Sanford Stadium is that all of the previous Uga's are actually buried in the stadium itself, isn't that true?

Hedge: Yes. This is true. The remains of all Ugas are interred in an embankment near the south stands. Above each grave is a plaque which details their accomplishments in life. Flowers are placed by these plaques before each home game to honor each Uga's legacy. I am honored to witness this. I am a hedge.

1bb: You keep saying that you are a hedge.

Hedge. I am a hedge, yes.

1bb: But aren't you actually many hedges? It seems unlikely that a single hedge alone stretches all along the vast perimeter of the football field.

Hedge: I am... I...

1bb: Yes?

Hedge: (pauses) We are a hedge.

1bb: Indeed. Kind of like the Borg.

Hedge: We hedges do not know "Borg". We are a self-perpetuating autonomous collective living in an anarcho-syndicalist commune who appoints supreme executive power to a chosen hedge in a tri-yearly ratification via a pre-determined election that ultimately establishes myself, a hedge, as the sole guardian and administrator of our leafy enclave.

1bb: And how is that vote established?

Hedge: As the sole administrator of a pre-determined election, I appoint myself. Pay attention.

1bb: Sorry. So, what's the best thing about being the famous Sanford Stadium hedges?

Hedge: Besides bathing in the warm golden loin nectar of Uga?

1bb: Yes, of course besides that.

Hedge. That we are on the sidelines of every Georgia Bulldog home game for life.

1bb: That is quite an honor, isn't it.

Hedge: It beats being trimmed into animal shapes at Busch Gardens.

1bb: I bet it does. Well, thank you so much for telling us Bronco fans about Sanford Stadium. We're looking forward to seeing you and your team on September 3.

Hedge: You are welcome. We are a hedge.

1bb: Yes you are.

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To learn more about the University of Georgia's Sanford Stadium, visit the official site at:

http://georgiadogs.collegesports.com/facilities/sanford/index.html

 

Addendum: All of the facts in this article regarding Sanford Stadium were painstakingly acquired online. Thus, if any of the facts are in error, blame my only resource, the internet, and its inventor, Al Gore. Thank you.

 

 


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