Monday, November 5, 2012

Repost - A Letter to the AD Concerning the Sanford Stadium Atmosphere

There have been some strong rumblings after the Ole Miss game about the stadium atmosphere. These mainly were put forth due to people leaving early, the poor use of audio / visual in stadium experiences, and the like. Below is a letter I wrote to our AD which I think still holds true. Obviously the band has been moved back to it's long time place, but I think a good bit still holds true. I'd love to hear some others' opinions on how we could improve our in game stadium experience to return Sanford Stadium to it's rightful place as an intimidating place to play.... This was written in early 2012, so take it in that context. 
Greg,

     First let me say how refreshing it is in today's mega sports culture that a major university's athletic director takes the time to listen to its fans. We've come off of a great season where many of the strides we needed to make were accomplished, and the future looks very bright. Over your short tenure at the University of Georgia you've shown the dedication to making this institution a premier sports program, while at the same time putting an emphasis on the integrity of our culture. It is evident you want to see the university reflected in a great light not only on the playing field, but also by objective eyes outside the arena. It's with this shared desire to see Georgia have as much success as possible on the gridiron that I'd like to voice my opinion regarding a facet of our gameday that could stand vast improvement.

      I've grown up a Georgia Bulldog spending countless Saturdays of my youth between the hedges of Sanford Stadium which has come to be hallowed ground in my mind. I can recall the chills it brought to me when I looked upon the Dawg Walk from the bridge, walked down by the hedges prior to games, and watched the red and black do battle as a young fan. I had the privilege to attend the university for four and a half years, and as a current Atlanta resident I've relished the opportunity to venture back to Athens for six or seven Saturdays a season during the past three years. During my time in school and afterwards I've had the chance to visit numerous other stadiums as well as the see the progression and transformation within the confines of Sanford Stadium. It's based on these observations that I would conclude that UGA could stand some changes as far as their current gameday atmosphere within the stadium.

     Georgia has some of the best fans in the country, with one of the most classic and beautiful stadiums, set against one of the most picturesque backdrops one can encounter when they attend a college football game. A Saturday in Athens is truly a delight from start to finish. This love for Athens and the football program I feel necessitate a true home field advantage for the Bulldogs, which I feel has dissipated as of late. I've come to the conclusion that Sanford Stadium has lost some of its aura as an intimidating place for an opposing team to visit. College football offers one of the most unique opportunities for a home crowd and stadium to have such a direct impact on the game, and I feel any improvements in the area of in game atmosphere can only serve to heighten this advantage.

     One of the first points I would make is in regard to our current seating arrangement. I understand Sanford provides problems from an acoustic standpoint, and other institutions have added seating to increase capacity, but I feel our current arrangement does not best suit itself to creating a true home field advantage. It's been my objective observation that the student body, be it due to various factors, is our loudest and most intense portion of our stadium. As I've travelled to all but three of the other SEC stadiums I've made the same assumption. It confuses me as to why we would have our students split up into two different sections, one in the corner, and one across the stadium in the opposing endzone. I feel putting these two potentially loudest parts of our stadium together as one united voice would aid in efforts to create more noise. When I look at LSU, Alabama, South Carolina, and Auburn who have some of the most involved student bases within a stadium I see them all corralled into one portion of the stadium that is advantageous to creating a louder environment. It creates one source of a great volume of noise that can actually have a direct impact on hampering opposing teams. With all of our noise seeming to escape the stadium at the current moment, I feel a slight tweak could heighten the noise level. Within our closed endzone we have the perfect opportunity to place our 10,000 to 15,000 students that attend games via student tickets in the place where they could create the most impact. A solid wall consisting of the student body in that portion of the stadium as one unified noise production zone would have more impact on opposing teams backed up in that endzone. I think back to games where the defense has the opponent backed up in the potentially loudest portion of the Stadium circa LSU 2004 or Auburn 2005 and the noise that was created in that area by the student section's impact. Adding to this potential noise creation could only be an asset. Putting the band back in the corner as well creates more noise than the current setup where their impact evaporates into the open endzone and is drowned out by the opposing band. They are also miles away from the largest amount of people they have the most impact on, the main student section. I understand re-arranging seats and moving season ticket holders is not an easy undertaking, but I feel change now will have great strides down the road.

     The second facet of the in game experience I would address is the use of the audio / video systems within the confines of Sanford. I remember reciting the pregame video as a child as my father explained to me the impact the great plays from Georgia's history I was viewing while Larry Munson's voice poured over them. Our current pregame videos have become a convoluted mess of poorly spliced together scenes that do not highlight the tradition of Georgia football. This video should educate any one who steps into Sanford to the lore that surrounds the program. I'd prefer to see more history in these  videos. The plays that defined Georgia football and the calls by Larry that embedded them in our memories permanently. Herschel Walker, Lindsey Scott, Jake Scott, Robert Edwards, David Pollack, Veron Haynes, Michael Johnson, Knowshon Moreno and so on. As we transition into the "new breed of Bulldog" who want to take the reigns of their Georgia men who've come before them, I don't feel we should see poorly uncorrelated plays of insignificance, but the big hits, big scores, and beloved players that have given Georgia four Eastern crowns and two SEC championships over roughly the past 12 years This should be a chance to highlight current players who may have such an impact. This should come to a resounding well timed conclusion where the 93,000 plus finish Larry's sentiments by shouting those two simple words which define us, "Go Dawgs". Other facets could as well be easily changed. Pre-game songs need to be played longer such as "Baba O Riley". Let the atmosphere of anticipation build up for a longer duration. Create an atmosphere that reflects the play on the field soon to arrive. When Georgia has a huge momentum swing, I'd prefer to hear fight songs, PA songs, or other excitement creating facets as opposed to hearing Academy Sports ads or other various commercial interruptions. The environment created during the 4th quarter of the 2007 Auburn game is something I'll never forget being a fan in the stadium. I understand the revenue generated by in game advertising is a necessity, but I think could be better positioned as to when it is delivered. Key points in the game... turnovers, quarter changes, kickoffs, etc. should have a stadium atmosphere that reflects their gravity, not an opportunity for advertising revenue. I'm not proposing switching to a scenario where artificial songs are blared constantly hampering the tradition that comes with SEC football, but a few every now and then couldn't hurt. A focus on the tradition of Georgia football while creating more crowd involvement and noise I feel can only create a better home field advantage for our beloved Dawgs.

     I understand that these menial things may seem outside the scope of what we can control, but I just wanted to voice my opinion regarding these areas. As a Georgia fan who has seen the progression of the team and spent over a hundred Saturdays in Sanford these are my humble thoughts. Involving more noise, the tradition of Georgia football, and the most involved parts of our fanbase will only serve to heighten the in game experience within Sanford Stadium. Thanks for taking the time to listen, and thanks for the effort you've shown already within your short time to build this into the premier program we all envision. I see this as an opportunity to continually improve on our ability to prosper as a football program returning to its place.

Best Regards and Sic Vos Non Vobis,

Ryan Cranford

7 comments:

  1. Dude, are you kidding? Baba O'Riley is 50% of the problem. A real downer as a majority African American players attempt to get hyped by a pathetic rendition of a 60/70's drug band.

    I think just the opposite - a video of intimidation reliving the past and a kick start into modern hype music to get the crowd...and more importantly the players ready to fight!

    Go Dawgs!

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  2. Trust me I'd be down for some more hype music. Look at LSU, Bama, or SC's pre-game vids. That place is rocking.

    Bama has a sweet pregame that the crowd is involved in. SC packs those stupid towels and pumps sandstorm & Space Odyssey and the crowd knows whats going on. LSU has the In the Air Tonight w/ Mike the Tiger thing going. These programs take pride in their pre-game which at this point we do not.

    I'd be 100% down for getting the place amped up. Old schoolers will have their issue, which is their perspective, and completely fine. I don't want us to get lost where the game is moving ahead of us.

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  3. Bring back Soulja Boy!!! The 07 games at home were nuts, especially the Auburn blackout game. When that tune hit, Sanford turned into a different place. Hell, even Verne Lundquist was dancing to it

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  4. @FineDawg I tell people to this day if I ascended into heaven during the 4th quarter of the '07 Auburn game I would have been OK with it.

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  5. You would have to displace about 8,000 season ticket holders to put all the students together. That is not going to happen.

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  6. The letter was spot on. The stadium atmospher has consistently gotten worse since 07. Student sections need to be moved, bring old videos back, mix in a little new age UGA plays, take away the awful hairydog enforcer commercials, and play music longer and louder. The crowd used to be insane and now we are a wine and cheese crowd. Ga/Fla this year was the best crowd in a long time. Great post cranny. Sorry for my rambling. Gata

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  7. It's quite a shame how, over the last 11 years I've been attending game, the atmosphere on a Fall Saturday in Athens has gone from getting liquored up and being obnoxiously loud at the game to seeing who can show up in the 2nd quarter with the coolest neon t-shirt Goodwill had to offer. Maybe the times are a changin', maybe that is what students care about theses days. If it is, I want 2007 back.

    Also, something that has really gotten under my skin the last few years...how many bands can you name that came out of Athens, Georgia? How many GREAT bands can you name that came out of Athens, Georgia? A lot. And in the pregame video the school chooses to play an Elton John song covered by...Nickelback. Arguably the worst band since ever. I'm not saying we need to blare 'Everybody Hurts' (REM) when a player gets carted off the field or a 27 minute live version of 'Drums' (Widespread Panic) at halftime, but let's have some pride in Athens and get some of the local talent in the mix!

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