I had the tremendous pleasure of going to Athens last weekend to watch the Eagles take on the Bulldogs. As a graduate of both institutions, I literally had the opportunity to cheer on every play. Granted, that was a little strange.
However, as I sat in Sanford Stadium enjoying every cheer from the Eagle Nation, which were plentiful in the first half, I couldn't help but reflect on the events of the previous week when GSU announced the hiring of its new athletic director Tom Kleinlein.
The hire of Kleinlein signaled in a new era for Georgia Southern football in which it is seeking FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision, formerly called Division I-A) approval, and an invitation to a FBS conference, which will ultimately result in a planned 6,000 seat expansion of Southern's football stadium.
I will be the first to say that I am very spoiled as it regards Georgia Southern football. I love being able to drive with relative ease to the games. Tailgating is wonderful and laid back, and the walk into the stadium is a piece of cake.
And, well then, there is Athens. As with Georgia Southern, I love going to watch the Bulldogs play. I intensely dislike every team they play (with the exception of the Eagles), and relish in every victory. However, game days are quite the zoo.
Admit it Georgia fans (including myself). Parking is atrocious and expensive, the sidewalks are crowded, it can be a very long walk to the stadium, and don't get me started on the two-night hotel stay minimum. But, from a business standpoint, it is raining money in Athens on game days. The economy is booming (relative to other cities in the state), and so is the university.
As I sat in the stands watching the pageantry of a cool, fall football game in the south, I couldn't help but think - what will Georgia Southern football Saturdays be like in 10 years, 20 years with this pending new change?
Will parking be a pain? Probably. Will it be more crowded, and a little bit more of a hassle to get into the stadium? Probably. Will it cost more to go to the games/buy a parking pass? Probably. Will more people descend on Statesboro for ballgame weekends? Probably.
I have decided that this could be a good thing, because it means the Eagles will be doing well, their fan base will be energized, and the demand for the product will be high, perhaps, ultimately raining money for our local economy.
So, until next Tuesday, I bid you au revoir.
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