The Yellow Jackets are off to their best start since 2005 and ranked in the Top 25. They’re leading the nation in several offensive categories, averaging nearly 60 points a game.
That’s not enough to ensure a full house for the Atlantic Coast Conference opener against North Carolina.
Athletic director Dan Radakovich made a public plea for more fans to turn out Saturday, a sign of just how challenging it is for the Yellow Jackets to fill 55,000-seat Bobby Dodd Stadium in a faltering economy.
“When you have empty seats, everyone has a great idea about moving forward to get those seats filled,” Radakovich said Tuesday, speaking after coach Paul Johnson held his regular weekly news conference. “We are not adverse to trying a lot of different ways to get people to experience Georgia Tech athletics, and football in particular.”
He rattled off various seating plans. He gave out a toll-free number to reach the ticket office. He even repeated the forecast for the noon kickoff.
“It’s supposed to be 76 degrees and sunny,” Radakovich said. “We have a lot of great history and tradition at Georgia Tech. It’s a fun atmosphere to come out and watch a college football game.”
The Yellow Jackets (3-0) have long struggled to fill their stadium.
In hindsight, the decision to add about 14,000 seats before the 2003 season looks like a blunder, especially since the coach who pushed for the expansion, George O’Leary, left just as the new seats started going up.
The Yellow Jackets haven’t sold out a game since they played host to Georgia in the 2009 finale. That unwanted streak is now at eight in a row after crowds of around 42,000 attended the first two contests this season against Western Carolina and Kansas, both played before huge swaths of empty seats.
There should be a better turnout for the Tar Heels (3-0, 1-0 ACC), but Radakovich said there were still nearly 10,000 available tickets as of Tuesday.
Georgia Tech isn’t the only school having trouble filling seats – Georgia’s sellout streak at 92,000-seat Sanford Stadium ended last weekend.
Johnson is hoping for a big crowd as the Yellow Jackets face their toughest test of the season.
“I know our players feed off that,” he said.