ATLANTA - Georgia Tech will play a five-game series in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, starting in 2020 against Notre Dame on November 14. The teams will also play at Mercedes-Benz October 19, 2024 in a game that will conclude the series.
One more game has been scheduled – a Sept. 5, 2022 matchup with Clemson on Labor Day night in a Chick-fil-A Kickoff game. The opponents and dates for the other two games (2021, 2023) have yet to be determined, but will be against ACC opponents. All five games will come from Tech’s home schedule.
Athletic director Todd Stansbury said that the decision to schedule the series had three principal drivers. First, playing in Mercedes-Benz Stadium will reinforce the push by Stansbury and coach Geoff Collins to make a statement about Tech’s location in Atlanta.
“We see our location as being an asset that cannot be duplicated by our competitors,” Stansbury said.
Second, the opportunity to play a game in the $1.6 billion stadium could be a recruiting tool.
“I’d think, for a high-school player out there, that being given the opportunity to play in Mercedes-Benz Stadium is going to be incredibly intriguing,” Stansbury said.
Third, it stands to create additional revenue for an athletic department that often struggles to break even.
Holding marquee games in the $1.6 billion sports temple would likely help Tech’s bottom line and perhaps draw attention to coach Geoff Collins’ team while also providing the stadium with additional events.
As a result of its coaching transition, Tech’s athletic department finds itself in a financial pinch and is perhaps more interested than usual in moving home games out of Bobby Dodd Stadium for the right price.
The change from Paul Johnson to Collins cost about $6 million, and the athletic department was already anticipating running a deficit of $2.8 million for the 2020 fiscal year.
The changeover will deplete the department’s reserve fund, which stood at about $6.65 million at the start of the fiscal year in July.
The athletic department projects to have the reserve fund restored to $5 million by fiscal year 2023.
Without money in the reserve fund, “It just doesn’t give you that cushion that you would like to have,” Tech athletic director Todd Stansbury said in January. “All of the sudden, you don’t have much of a rainy-day fund. And that’s what the fund balance is for, for unforeseen circumstances — transitioning a football staff, something like that.”
Either through a guarantee or receiving gate receipts, Tech would stand to draw revenues at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (capacity: 71,000) greater than what it would receive playing at Bobby Dodd Stadium (55,000).
For the 2017 season opener against Tennessee in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Tech received $2.85 million from the Peach Bowl.
Moving to a larger stadium, however, invites the potential for more fans of Clemson or Notre Dame (or another opponent) to be cheering for the opposition at a Tech home game.
Tech home games typically sell out only with the assistance of visiting fans.
This article was written by Ken Sugiura, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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