There were 93,246 football fans who bought tickets for the UGA vs Notre Dame game last Saturday at Sanford Stadium. The highly anticipated game, which created major national buzz, ended with a 23-17 Bulldog win.
As reported in The Red & Black, in a postgame press conference, UGA head coach Kirby Smart said UGA fans were “the twelfth man” and “impacted” the game with their thunderous cheers.
Unfortunately, there were quite a few UGA students who had an unsavory experience at the historic game. Some alleged they were removed from the stadium because of a lack of seating in the student sections.
After UGA negotiated a deal with Notre Dame in 2014 to schedule two games, one in South Bend and in Athens, with the proposal of hosting 8,000 Fighting Irish fans in Sanford Stadium, that agreement meant UGA had to prepare 500 extra seats than usual in the visitors seating area.
Therefore the university planned to move one of the student sections in the West End Zone area to make up for the surplus.
Some students believe that UGA athletics oversold tickets and prioritized the experience of higher paying ticket holders and Notre Dame fans over UGA students.
The Red & Black spoke with students who were removed or could not find seating in the stadium and how they felt.
As of press time, UGA officials have yet to respond to requests for comment.
The Red & Black is continuing to report this story.
Caroline Stevens, first-year doctor of pharmacy student from Cumming
After arriving an hour before kick off and not finding seating, Stevens said a police officer grabbed her by the arm and tried to remove her from the stadium.
“This was a big game, and kicking out students to make room for certain fans just because they paid more money for their ticket is incredibly unfair. Overall, Sanford really let me down.”
Darcy Downie, senior advertising major from Statesboro
On gameday, Downie said she immediately noticed the student section was full. She asked the stadium staff where she could sit and was told to “find a gap.” After an hour of searching for seating, she decided to leave.
“This was supposed to be ‘THE game.’ And it is so disheartening to see it plastered all over social media and know that I should’ve been there, and I paid to be there, but what I experienced was so far from what others experienced.”
Jae Choi, senior biological science major from Johns Creek
Choi said she and her friends were not able to find seating in the designated student section and were told to sit in a section crowded by Notre Dame fans who yelled at the students to leave. After the stadium staff told the group they couldn’t help, the students ended up leaving.
“I’ve paid athletic fees for the past four years, I’ve been paying for events just to get kicked out of the game I really wanted to go to. It discourages me to want to have school spirit and go to the other games, it really does affect my view of UGA as a whole.”
Lauren M. Fox, senior landscape architecture from Snellville
Fox said she arrived an hour before kick off expecting to find seating. She asked the stadium staff for help but was told, “leave I guess.”
“I would say the worst part of this entire situation in my opinion is that the University did not place any value in the experience of students on Saturday. It seems impossible to me that the university “accidentally” sold tickets in a designated student section, and left hundreds of students with nowhere to go.”
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