Originally created 10/12/03

UGA considers higher ticket fees



Wes Sadler's view from Section 324, the corner of the east end zone in Sanford Stadium, is, as he describes it, "awesome."

Every home game for four years, Mr. Sadler and a guest (typically a family member) have made the five-hour drive from Jacksonville, Fla., to see his beloved Bulldogs play.

It's a trip well worth the $32 ticket and $200 minimum ticket priority donation, said Mr. Sadler, a 1987 UGA graduate.

But by 2005, that journey might be costlier.

University of Georgia athletic officials are considering changing the priority system, which charges season ticketholders for the right to buy season tickets. Reaction has been mixed among the Bulldog faithful, some of whom say they will remain season ticketholders regardless of price.

Others worry that if costs continue rising, they'll have to trade in those season tickets for the living room couch. Under the proposal, a ticketholder's donation would be determined on a graduated scale.

For example, $500 would be required for a seat on the 50 yard line, while a $100 donation would place spectators in the stadium's new second upper deck.

According to UGA Athletic Association policy, the more money a season ticketholder donates to the Georgia Educational Enhancement Fund, the higher they climb on the stadium-seating totem pole. The nonprofit fund provides scholarships for student athletes and support for UGA's sports programs.

Mr. Sadler is one of dozens of season ticketholders the Athens Banner-Herald contacted via a Bulldog fan Web site to comment on the possible increase.

The 38-year-old said he's donated about $1,200 to the university's fund and wouldn't hesitate to spend more.

"I've been trying to contribute, and slowly move every year with a little bit better seats," Mr. Sadler said. "This new system might allow guys like me to jump into some even better seats."

Carl Holley, an eight-year season ticketholder, has six seats, and he said he'd pay more to keep them - but not too much more.

As long as it's reasonable. I don't think they would price it out of a certain maximum," said Mr. Holley, 42. "If they go to $1,000 a seat, I don't see it as reasonable."

That's doubtful, said Vince Dooley, UGA's athletic director. Ticket-priority fees likely will peak at $500, he said. When it was launched in 1964, the ticket-priority system asked for a $50 contribution.

University athletic officials say that, by changing the system, the athletic association stands to generate an additional $4 million to $5 million in revenue.