Providing the mental image of a rainy G-Day spring game crowd, Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity announced Wednesday that Sanford Stadium would have 20-25% capacity this season for home football games against Auburn, Tennessee, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt.
The limit will result in audiences no larger than roughly 18,550 to 23,190 at the 92,746-seat facility.
"Right now, we're confident in our plan," McGarity said on a Zoom call, "and we're in the neighborhood of where our peers are in the conference."
Alabama and Auburn announced this week that their respective facilities would be around 20% capacity, while Tennessee athletic director Phillip Fulmer said Tuesday that 25% would be "likely" at Neyland Stadium. Alabama and Auburn have also banned tailgating for the upcoming season, while Georgia and Tennessee have not revealed decisions on that front.
Auburn athletic director Allen Greene told season-ticket holders Wednesday that the reduction of home games from seven to five and the 20% capacity limit would result in a financial shortfall of "tens of millions of dollars." AL.com reported Wednesday that Auburn earned more than $29 million in football ticket revenue during the 2019 fiscal year.
McGarity didn't have numbers in front of him Wednesday but admits he faces a similar plight.
"Needless to say, the revenue drop is significant," McGarity said. "We only have four games in Sanford Stadium, as well as the Florida game in Jacksonville, which is our home game this year. All of the costs involved with testing and all of the measures we'll be providing in the stadium will make our expenses pretty close to what they would normally be in the stadium."
Georgia and Florida are scheduled to meet Nov. 7 at 67,164-seat TIAA Bank Field, where they will follow the 25% capacity used by the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars.
More than 3,000 students will be allowed to attend Georgia games this season, with that number normally 16,000. McGarity did not know whether a full Redcoat Marching Band would be allowed to perform or how social distancing would affect that aspect of a Saturday inside Sanford.
There will be no tickets allotted to visiting teams this year in Southeastern Conference games.
"That was one of the quickest decisions we made as a group — to limit that because of the number of people traveling," McGarity said. "We wanted to make sure we could maximize the opportunity for our home fans, because we knew that we were all going to be at a very low capacity level."