Football season is a not-so-distant memory still, and it won't be time to ready the tailgating gear until the spring game (April 23rd, by the way, so man up and "BEE" there!) Still, my mind wanders to Saturdays in the Fall when Toe Meets Leather. It is in this place of fond memories I begin to consider the "what if's" of those days. Pet peeves surface as well as a host of opinions about how a football Saturday at Georgia Tech could be made so much better.
Now, I know Bobby Dodd Stadium suffers a unique set of problems. I only want to focus on the one affecting the players most - early and consistent fan attendance. Players die inside when they run out of the tunnel frenzied on adrenaline and a week of grueling work to the dull roar of their home stadium at only 60-75% capacity. Even if the place is sold out and fills completely ten minutes into the game, the mental letdown has already set in for everyone.
Why do fans show up after kickoff or even not at all? Commence the deluge of excuses! I'll concede it's hard to get motivated to wake up early on a Saturday and fight traffic from the 'burbs to Midtown in time to enjoy any pre-game festivities when kickoff is set for 12pm. Give us three more hours at least! That aside, I'm willing to bet if the campus and stadium atmosphere were made just right for the crowds we'd see an uptick in early attendance to games. Read on for some of my ideas and to share your own...
First off, I think Peter's Parking Deck is just freakin IN THE WAY! There I said it. Tear that thing down, plant a grove and take one GIANT step forward in tailgating appeal for Tech.
Next I think it's time we realized we're not getting the sidewalk fans we had when we were winning the SEC. Why would attendence be lower now than in 1964? Wins, you say? Not entirely. I think we've inadvertently tailored gamedays to students. And students live on or near campus. Let's face it - parking at Tech sucks. Traffic getting to Tech sucks. If we were smarter about our brand we'd make it worth someone's time to drive from Macon, Savannah, Columbus or Dahlonega. It would be expensive, but we've got to get more surface parking on the capus perimeter and stop charging so much. Alternatively, I'm thinking a parking deal with Atlantic Station (along with gameday deals at their shops) could work wonders.
The biggest one, though? The pre-game stadium atmosphere. The stadium holds about 56k at standing-room-only. There are less than 10k student tickets distributed. That means at most 18-22 year olds make up less than a fifth of the crowd. So why is the playlist straight off a suburban teenager's Pandora account? Don't get me wrong, Grant Field is in the heart of the ATL - no where on Planet Earth has more right to "Put On" for their city or be "All The Way Turnt Up." But let's mix it up a little. Atlanta is the hip-hop capital of the world, but it is also the jewel of the Southland. We should have a more open and representative playlist.
Imagine a sunny Saturday afternoon in Bobby Dodd Stadium before the game with rum and coke and the following:
Title Artist Explanation
"Ramblin Man" Allman Brothers Why in the WORLD do we not play this frat house classic?!
"Born to Ramble" Keith Loren Why not? It's happy and he says "ramble" ok?
"Welome to Atlanta" Ludacris Self explanatory, one would think.
"Cotton Eyed Joe" Rednex A song with fiddles AND a beat? Gotta be worth a shot...
"Whiskey River" Willie Nelson Drink it clear, Jackets fans.
"It's My Life" Bon Jovi Mentions shouting. That has to help the alumni/fan apathy, right?
"Won't Get Fooled Again" The Who Play it before an opponent who beat us last time?
"Chattahoochee" Alan Jackson I mean...the river's only a few miles away.
"The Devil Went Down to Georgia" CDB Pre-Duke kickoff song? The fiddle's made of GOLD, yall!
"Constant Sorrow" Soggy Bottom Boys Begging for a funny Calc video. 6 long years, bound to ramble, etc.
"Bleed Awhile" Tashard Choice Not a song, but we all just gained three quarts of testosterone!
Do you have more? Those are just a few I could think of. Am I completely crazy?