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July 17, 2008

Seeing red leads to black for opponents

For Georgia fans unable to purchase tickets to the September 20, game against Arizona State in Tempe, the cost is $99.00. That is the price for a season ticket to see the Sun Devils, and it includes a ticket to the UGA game. If demand for season tickets to see the Bulldogs is as great next year as it was this year, an Arizona State fan will have to pony up $10,652.00 for a single season ticket in Athens.

Tim Cearley, the Director of Ticket Operations at UGA, told UGASports last week that the cut-off contribution score to purchase the roughly 800 season tickets that we not renewed from 2006 was one dollar less than that number.

Expect to see that number only go up.

In the meantime, Dawg fans are doing the same thing they have done in the past: Purchase season tickets for an opposing team just to get that one ticket to see the Bulldogs play. They do it to Georgia Tech every other year when they purchase the Yellow Jacket's three-pack and select the Georgia game as one of their options.

"I bought my first Georgia Tech three-pack last year, and they were kind enough to let us choose the games that we wanted to attend," said Bulldog season ticket holder Srav Meka.

"Of course, I picked the Georgia game as the first one. The other two were easy choices. I picked Army because it was [UGA's bye week], and I always wanted to see Army play in person. The other game was the Virginia Tech Thursday night game. I got to see a good quarterback wearing a Yellow Jacket jersey - Sean Glennon! We had a great time with all of the Dawg and Hokie fans at that game."

Due to the high demand, Georgia's athletic department asks for a base donation of $250.00 per seat, and then an additional $40.00 per-game for tickets. However, since most season tickets are renewed, it is not as simple as that, and thus a minimum contribution to qualify for new season ticket holders is established. For this season, that number was the $10,651.00 previously mentioned—611 people fell below that number and were denied.

Season ticket holders may request tickets to road games, but with so few of those allocated by opponents (in most cases about 10,000), cut-off scores are created based on demand and availability. An individual's score is the cumulative total of all past contributions.

When it was announced last week that the cut-off score for the Arizona State game was 27,007, many season ticket holders knew they needed to find another way into Sun Devil Stadium.

"I had been reading on the Dawgvent about people buying Arizona State season tickets, and once the cut-off was announced, I knew I could not wait," said Georgia season ticket holder Jeff Skoville who had made his hotel reservations in Tempe last November and purchased plane tickets in March.

"I was just waiting on Airtran to post their flight schedule so I could get my tickets," continued Skoville.

He picked up the phone and called the Arizona State ticket office.

Said Skoville: "I told them who I was and what I was doing, and the guy said, 'Not another one'.

Skoville purchased two tickets at $149.00 apiece because he wanted better seats than the $99.00 package.

Back in Athens, folks are not at all surprised to see Bulldog fans go to such measures. Last December, University of Hawai'i offices had to stop online and telephone ticket sales due to concerns that Georgia fans were gobbling up the Warriors' allotment for the Allstate Sugar Bowl. Furthermore, people wanting to purchase tickets could only do so at the university's box office and had to present a valid Hawai'i driver's license.


"A portion of the ticket price goes to their Sun Angle Foundation, which is similar to the causes that [UGA's] athletic department supports. I actually buy an extra Georgia Tech three-pack simply to help their student athletes and the causes their school supports."
Georgia, and now Arizona State season ticket holder Jeff Skoville.

"We want to ensure that the remaining tickets are available to Hawai`i fans," Warrior athletic director Herman Frazier said at the time.

Georgia coach Mark Richt is well aware of this practice among fans and commented on it earlier this week at a Bulldog club meeting in Jacksonville, Fla.

"Season tickets at Arizona State are $99.00, and a lot of people are buying season tickets at Arizona State just to get a chance to see us play over there," said Richt.

This situation is likely to repeat in coming years as the Bulldogs have plans to travel outside the South in coming seasons.

"When we added the 12th game, we choose to add a BCS opponent that is out of our region," Richt said. "Colorado, Oklahoma State, Arizona State, and at one time we had Oregon State but that has changed."

Opponents do not seem to mind this procedure as it only helps to improve their bottom line and interest in the game.

"We are very happy that they are coming out to support their school," said Chris Sonntag of the Arizona State ticket office who said he has sold 35 sets of season tickets to Bulldog fans. Sonntag is just one of 20 sales representatives. Other department officials could not be reached for comment.

Still, there is the question of what happens to all the tickets these interloping season ticket holders possess when they are not present. Who sits in these seats on gameday when these juxtaposed Jackets and deceiving Devils are off barking for his or her Bulldogs?

"I got a three-pack for Tech this past year and a $99.00 season ticket for ASU," said Dawg fan Gene Moody. "We were able to sell the spare Tech tickets to some coworkers and mutual friends. I guess we will just give away the ASU tickets to a local Boys Club or something."



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