Ticket price hike to pay for facilities

ATHENS – The group that runs Georgia's athletic department found a way to raise more money and a way to spend that money all in one afternoon.

The Athletic Association's board of directors approved Thursday at its regular quarterly meeting an increase in the cost of football tickets and nearly a million dollars for the first step in a major renovation to the school's football facilities.

Bulldogs football tickets will now cost $40 per ticket for season ticket holders rather than $32. Single-game tickets, which are sold to Bulldog fans if any remain on game week, now will cost $45 instead of $40. (Opposing fans may pay more for their ticket based on what their schools charges Georgia's fans for tickets, and any tickets returned by opposing schools will cost Georgia fans up to $55, depending on which school returns the tickets.)

At $32, Georgia had the third-cheapest ticket price in the SEC. The new cost will rank sixth behind Alabama ($49), South Carolina ($46), LSU ($44), Tennessee ($42, $45) and Auburn ($43), according to information released by Georgia.

This is the first ticket price increase for the Bulldogs since 2002, when they raised prices from $27 to $32, and athletics director Damon Evans pointed out this increase amounts only to four percent per year since the last hike.

"Maybe what we need to do is stop waiting so long to increase," Evans said.

University president Michael Adams has no reservations about the 25 percent increase, particularly coming off a season in which Georgia finished No. 2 in the country, he said.

"We're about as good a ticket value as there is in the country," he said.

The board of directors approved the increase unanimously and with no discussion.

The ticket increase will help offset the costs of a planned $25 million renovation and expansion of the Butts-Mehre building, which houses Georgia's football locker room, offices, meeting rooms, training room and weight room.

That board of directors approved $750,000 for the next step in planning that project. Construction will not begin until at least half the estimated cost is raised through a dedicated fundraising effort, Adams and Evans said, and that is expected to take two years, Adams said.

"We feel that based on where our program is and the esteem in which our coaches are held, it would be a good time to go raise some money in support of football," Adams said. "This should signal to the support base that we need to test what kind of donor support is out there before we move forward."

The expansion, which will include more than 20,000 square feet of additions plus renovations to the current space, does not mean the Bulldogs won't be getting an indoor practice facility in the future, Evans said.

"We'll continue to explore the indoor facility, but (head coach Mark Richt), and I sat down and said, ‘What do we need to do now?' and this is what we came up with," Evans said. "This is the one that is going to touch our student-athletes on a much more frequent basis. An indoor facility is something you build that you're going to use in case of inclement weather every now and then. The facility that we're looking at is going to be something that they use every single day."

The slated project will include a multi-purpose room that covers more than 10,000 square feet, which can be used for football activities or converted into a room to host recruits or other gatherings. New team meeting rooms and additions to the weight room and training room also are included.

A second phase of the project, which will build new coaching offices at a projected cost of $11 million, is planned but has not been scheduled.

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