AD Greg McGarity and Josh Brooks add insight into Ticket plan & Stadium Capacity
The following are supplemental comments from J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Greg McGarity and senior deputy athletic director Josh Brooks as follow-up to stadium capacity and ticket distribution.
On whether the decision to allow tailgating has been decided/if not, when the public can expect that decision…
“Well, we outline in our note to our donors that we’ll make that decision a little bit later. I know Alabama has already come out and said no tailgating— Arkansas has, as well— but we’re going to wait and see. We don’t have to make that decision right now but certainly as we near the first game, we’ll make those decisions about tailgating. We will just wait and make that decision a little bit later.”
On what the status is of the Dawg Walk and whether that will take place… “We don’t know yet. To practice social distancing, that’s not really conducive to the Dawg Walk, as we know it today. It’s really the only way our team can get into the stadium now, so I’m sure that will be modified in some degree. We just haven’t zeroed in on those plans for when we start in October.” On the level of risk playing this fall presents… "We’re not even out of August yet. We’ve got plenty of time, through the whole month of September to evaluate things. We just need to be able to pivot if necessary, but we’ve got a long time before we have our first home game….We feel like the way we’ve mapped out the stadium, we can maintain social distancing and still abide by the CDC guidelines to keep people as safe as possible. Again, people can opt out. People can elect to come to our games, so those who do come certainly would have a level of risk as they move towards the stadium. Again, we’re thinking with the numbers we will have, [attendance] will be like a rainy G-Day; that may be what the crowd looks like. You’ve got a stadium of 90 thousand, and you’re populating it with only 20-25 percent of that, so the stadium is going to look sporadic for sure.”
On whether there were plans to have a student section at home games this fall…
“It was important to us early on that we maintain the student section, and [the student] footprint was not affected. We actually increased the students’ footprint slightly, because if you look at some of their sections in the past, like sections 307 and 144, [those] were half students, half donors. Those are now all students. We want clean sections. The footprint of students actually remains exactly the same, and actually a little bigger. We’ve already applied some methodology to how we will lay it out, similar to what we do with donors. Now that the plan is out, we’ve got a meeting set for today. We’ll start meeting with more student leadership to confirm the allocation plan and make sure they are comfortable with what we’re working through. We want to maintain that section for them, as well.”
On whether there are plans to have the Red Coat band… “That has yet to be determined how the bands, I know the Medical Advisory task force is providing some guidance to the athletic directors, as we move forward. That has yet to be determined as far as how band and cheerleaders would function this year.” On whether there is a point in September where UGA has to make the decision whether or not to play… “I really don’t know. We have AD meetings almost every day now, on Zoom. We learn different things every day. I don’t think there is a drop-dead date—we don’t have one designated is, ‘We have to make a decision by this day,’ because we don’t have to right now. But I just think we look at the information daily and listen to what our other peer institutions are doing, as well as the Big 12 and the ACC, the AAC and everybody else that is playing, and so to keep tabs on everyone else. I just think it is too early to put a drop-dead date. I think it would have to be the week of the game at the latest, but we will just wait and see what develops on a daily basis.” On what the PPE plan/safety and sanitation measures will look like in Sanford Stadium… “That’s going to be a big part of our operation this year. We’re going to have hand sanitizer stations everywhere across the stadium. All of our staff will be really masked-up, all of the concession workers will have face-shields, masks, gloves. That is very important to think about all of those things, and follow all the CDC guidelines as you talk about concessions, restrooms, ingress, egress. That was what kind of gave us confidence to move forward with this plan knowing that with a crowd of this size, the operations at the concessions and restrooms will be easy. Ingress and egress will be easy. We can manage that—like Greg [McGarity] said, ‘A crowd of around 20,000 in a stadium that can seat 92,000 makes it more manageable all around. I feel really good about our planning. We are going to be deep-cleaning. There are going to be a custodian assigned to every single restroom that will be constantly wiping down touch points. We are going to disinfect all of the restrooms the day of the game, all common areas. I feel really good about the plan. It is going to take—we’re still working through it. The execution on the day of is going to be very important, but I feel very good about our staff just from what I have seen so far and how we have managed all of our athletics facilities these last few months gives me great confidence that we can do the same thing at Sanford [Stadium].” On the ways UGA has consulted at the state and other levels regarding the safest model to a football season… “We have consulted with local officials, worked with—we have a group here on campus, the [Position Management and Classification] group that has evaluated all the campus operations, I have met with that group. I meet with campus officials, the normal game operations group that we meet with: Steve Harris and Jimmy Williamson, to review our plan and get a second set of eyes. We also talk to our peers throughout the state, throughout the country. You would be surprised how much at even rival [schools], how much we will work together to talk through these things because this is not a thing about competitive advantage, this is about keeping people safe and maximizing our opportunity. We weren’t shying away from any idea that we could find, anywhere. We have worked with schools across the country, a lot of officials here—especially on campus.”