Image: Josh Massey
I get asked this quite a bit. Given our lack of success, should we move the Georgia vs. Florida game out of Jacksonville. The scenarios proposed are usually:
- A. Go home and home with the series
B. Go to a Jacksonville / GA Dome Rotation
And if you're a player reading this and getting mad. Go ahead and get mad. Then take it out on Florida. But back to the question at hand.
I don't think that Option B is an option at all. I don't see the game ever making a long term rotation through the Georgia Dome, and here's why:
- Seating Capacity - The Georgia Dome's official capacity is 71,250. Attendance for the most recent UGA vs. UF game in Jacksonville was 84,649. That's a difference of over 13,000 seats. Or 6,500 fewer seats per team. That's roughly 15% fewer tickets per fan base.
- Sky Rocketing Hartman Fund Cut-Off Levels for UGA Fans - If you moved the game to Atlanta every other year, you would be moving the game closer to the largest segment of the UGA fan base, and you would logically anticipate dramatically higher demand for tickets. Greater demand + fewer tickets would create an upwards explosion in ticket cut-off scores. It's not hard to imagine the cut-off jumping from 8,300 Hartman points to well over 20,000 immediately. The current Cocktail Party is a relatively accessible ticket by comparison.
- Gator Geography - South Georgia is close to Jacksonville. Atlanta is not close to North Florida. The Gators aren't coming all the way up here. They like the game in Jacksonville because it's close every year, and they are winning. If the game left Jacksonville on a yearly basis, they might as well just play it home and home.
Furthermore, Mark Richt complains about other teams playing a neutral site game in Atlanta. He feels that the presence of that season opening Georgia Dome game opens recruiting doors into the fertile Atlanta market for our enemies. By that logic, why would we ever leave a neutral site game in the fertile Florida recruiting area?
Leaving Jacksonville in any scenario other than a 5 game winning streak on our side of the ledger is indefensible. Especially, now that the team can fly out of Ben Epps Airport directly to Jacksonville next year. That means our team's "commute" to the game by plane would only be about an hour longer than the Gator bus ride to the game.
(Note: The game is scheduled to stay in Jax for several more years. This post is a reaction to the question I get via email. It's not a reaction to an immediate discussion from UGA about moving the game.)
Am I crazy? Is there another way to see this?