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UGA, Tech football ticket problems very different.


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UGA, Tech football ticket problems very different

By CHIP TOWERS

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published on: 06/06/08

They reside in different stratospheres, but their goals are the same to sell every seat for every football game in their stadiums.

It's a tough job for both Georgia's Tim Cearley and Georgia Tech's Scott McLaren, who oversee their schools' ticket operations, but for totally different reasons.

Every year Cearley is trying to figure out how to accommodate more spectators than he has room for. McLaren is working overtime just to get more to come.

It's a year-round job that's as difficult in June as it is September.

At this point, both schools are doing about the same thing. They are processing their fans' requests for season tickets and negotiating with opposing teams for visiting tickets. So it's a long way off before the tickets show up in your mailbox.

But here's what we know:

The Bulldogs head into the 2008 season one in which they might be ranked No. 1 in the first Associated

Press poll on a streak of 46 consecutive sold-out dates in 92,746-seat Sanford Stadium. Put another way, every home game in the Mark Richt era has been a sellout.

The bad news for Georgia fans is a lot more people than that are trying to get in, and it's going up every year.

"Damage control is a big part of what we do," said Cearley, Georgia's ticket manager since 2004. "It's never easy to explain to someone why they didn't get the tickets they requested, but we're having to do it more often. Without getting into specifics, I don't know exactly how many requests we've had, but the demand this year is going to be unprecedented, I can say that for sure."

Meanwhile, the number of requests Cearley can accommodate hasn't changed 52,750. Who receives those tickets is determined by a points system based on how much money one has donated to athletics. Last year you didn't get tickets unless you gave at least $2,000. That does not include the cost of the game tickets $45 per seat per game.

The only hope for some single-game tickets is if visiting teams return a portion of their allotment. Cearley said the best hope for the non-contributor will be Central Michigan in the second game of the season.

At the moment, McLaren's most pressing concern is figuring out why some patrons didn't renew for this season. After processing this year's requests, he said the renewal rate for season tickets was 85 percent. It's McLaren's job to find out why.

In general, it's not a good sign for season tickets to decrease in the year a team changes coaches, as Tech did by hiring Paul Johnson. McLaren said he is in the process of calling the fans who didn't renew and he's finding, more often than not, it was simply an oversight.

"A lot of them just forgot and say they still want their tickets," said McLaren, who is Tech's assistant athletics director for sales and business development. "People we're talking with say they're very excited about what Paul Johnson brings and saying, 'Sign me up.' We're actually very pleased with the way things are going."

The capacity of Bobby Dodd Stadium is 55,000, and McLaren estimates that Tech has sold around 26,000 season tickets.

McLaren said Tech has sold 1,500 new season tickets as part of its new "Jackets' Nest" promotion. The school discounted the prices of regular-season tickets from $250 to $150 for a section in the upper north corner of Bobby Dodd Stadium.

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