BY DAN MATHEWS
680 THE FAN, ATLANTA – The Announcement on Tuesday of Georgia and Clemson playing in Charlotte to start the 2021 season shouldn’t come as a surprise.
This announcement and ones similar are the wave of the future in college football. Athletic directors have found their answer to the growing college football attendance problem.
The fans have spoken over the last few years. Give me convenience, comfort and access. You get that on television and not being one of 100,000 people in an older college football stadium.
NFL stadiums better offer these qualities over the tradition and in some cases outdated stadiums. Yes, we love going to Sanford, Bryant-Denny, Jordan-Hare, Bobby Dodd and all of the legendary college football stadiums of the south.
But, think of it this way… Don’t you have complaints about game days? There’s traffic, too many people, the metal benches are uncomfortable and in some cases no booze.
It is for those reasons, that we see empty space at times on Saturday’s during the fall in these stadiums. The typical major college football fan is more than likely not looking forward to that drive from their major city, down an interstate and into the teeth of suffocating traffic in these smaller college towns. All of this, leading up to a noon kickoff against a Group of Six or FCS program.
The AD’s have heard you and also realize that these neutral site games are what you want. The stadiums are full and the multi-million dollar checks clear.
For example, LSU and Florida State are giving up home games in 2022 and 2023 in order to play each other. However, they’re getting a combined $10.2 million from game organizers in New Orleans and Orlando. That more than offsets the money either gained or lost for a home game against Northwestern State or Samford.
Even if you’re “upset” about losing a game at Sanford Stadium… You’ll get over it, when you can make a 15-20 minute drive to Mercedes-Benz Stadium for a major neutral site game against another Power Five program. Plus, you’ll be back at your home or favorite game watching spot in time for the other ones happening that night.
If you think these games are going to be just a “fad” in college football, you’re wrong. They’ll only increase.
The Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game is becoming more of game(s). They’ll have three this season to be exact. They have two on the books for 2021 as well.
We’re seeing new stadiums completed in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. We’ll soon enough see games played in those state of the art venues, located in popular tourist cities.
Remember the “Pigskin Classic?” This was the game before the college football season started and was played at different on/off campus stadiums throughout the country.
I think we’ll get Thursday and Friday of Week One in college football as games on campus. These will be the appetizers. The ones you’ll be most looking forward to for the start of the season, will be in NFL Stadiums. We’ll get Saturday, Sunday and Labor Day Monday prime time games in these venues.
It will be exciting too. Because it is not all that often that your team gets to play at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The same for any of these NFL stadiums.
Besides, are Georgia fans really not going to see them play at Mercedes-Benz, because they’re so upset about not making that drive to Athens? No, they won’t.
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