By Joe Vitale:
Georgia’s annual G-Day game is set for this Saturday, April 22, 2017, in Athens. This will be the 74th time Georgia ends its spring practice with an intrasquad game. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. at Sanford Stadium and the game will be televised on the SEC Network and streamed live on WatchESPN.
Based on records provided by UGA’s sports communication office, Saturday will represent the 74th time in the last 77 years the game has been played. In 2000, the game was cancelled as there was a sewer line issue in Sanford Stadium. In 1945, the game wasn’t played due to a lack of player depth and in 1943, G-Day was cancelled due to World War II. In 1996, the game was played to a sold-out (10,196 fans) Athens’ Clarke Central High School Stadium due to Sanford Stadium being retrofitted to host soccer during the Atlanta Summer Olympic Games.
Interestingly, the game hasn’t always been an intrasquad contest. In both 1984 and 1989, the Black team was comprised of Bulldog alumni. I bet there was a good deal of oxygen on the Black sideIine for both contests.
Admission is free this year, just as it has been since 2009. For the first game in 1941, in which 2,500 fans attended, admission was 50 cents for the general public and free for students. From 1997 through 2008, general admission was $5. An impressive 18,000 came out for the 1954 game, which was nearly 55% of capacity at the time.
For the past six years, attendance has climbed from 43,117 in 2011 to 46,815 in 2015. Then in 2016, with first year coach Kirby Smart calling for a sellout, an amazing 92,746 Bulldog faithful filled Sanford Stadium, which became known as #93KDay.
Coach Smart is seeking another large turnout and places a good deal of importance to a strong attendance for G-Day. “I always challenge the Georgia fanbase,” Smart said on the 680 The Fan radio show. We want you to come out. It impacts recruiting. So many of our kids last year were impacted by that fanbase and that atmosphere. It is going to be a beautiful day in Athens. We fully expect to have an awesome crowd and turnout. We reward our current players that want to play in front of a group like that. Anytime you do it is special. I certainly think we have a special fanbase,” Smart concluded.
This year, the Black team, led by quarterback Jacob Eason and receiver Terry Godwin, will face the Red team, led by freshman quarterback Jake Fromm and safety Dominick Sanders. The weather is cooperating once again but bring your sunscreen. Forecasts call for mostly sunny skies with a high of 90 and only a 10 percent chance of rain.
Here’s some details for Saturday:
– Admission is free. In the past, the Bulldogs traditionally used this occasion to solicit canned food from fans on behalf of the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia. UGA is encouraging fans to make monetary donations to the Food Bank at the United Healthcare display at the Main Gate underneath Sanford bridge from 10 a.m. until kickoff.
– UGA will use G-Day to implement the SEC’s Clear Bag Policy, which will go into effect at all SEC venues beginning this fall. The policy will also be in effect, beginning in the 2017-18 competition year, at all of UGA’s ticketed sports venues.
– Recruits will be seated in a reserved area near the team entrance in Sections 126 and 127.
– Parking could prove to be a bit of a challenge. Police will establish a “controlled perimeter” between Lumpkin Street and East Campus Road from a block north of the stadium south to Cedar Street. Everything outside of that perimeter is free and fair game.
– A special guest, Southern University’s Devon Gales and his family, will be recognized during the second media timeout of the game.
– Gates open at 11 a.m. Fans are welcome to sit wherever they please.
– Festivities begin at 11:30 a.m with the annual lettermen flag football game.
– At 12:45 p.m., Dawg Walk begins from Lumpkin Street through the Tate Student Center parking lot.
– Kickoff is at 2 p.m.
– G-Day will be televised by the SEC Network. WatchESPN will live stream the event from a unique perspective as the umpire will be wearing a hat-cam.
– A running clock will be used, and the game won’t have live kicks or punts. The last four minutes of each half will be conducted in “hurry-up mode” regardless of score.
– After the game and some tailgating, stroll over to Foley Field and catch the Diamond Dawgs hosting Vanderbilt at 6:00 p.m.