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Copyright 2018 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


ATHENS — Fans attending Georgia's G-Day football game Saturday will get a first look at Sanford Stadium's new and upsized video board.

The 52-foot-high, 100-foot-wide screen has been installed behind the west end zone and will be in use for the first time at the spring intrasquad game.

The large screen is a small part of a $63 million construction project that will add a new locker room for the Bulldogs, a recruiting lounge, two plazas and expanded concession and restroom facilities, all on the west end of the stadium.

The video board is the first part of the project to be completed, and the rest is on schedule to be finished before the 2018 season, UGA executive associate athletic director Josh Brooks said this week.

He expressed confidence that a mid-July deadline for "substantial completion" will be met, allowing time for finishing touches before the Sept. 1 season opener against Austin Peay.

"We've hit every marker so far, and we're almost a year into the project," Brooks said.

One met marker was getting a construction crane off the field, the sod replaced and the video board operational by G-Day.

To date, Brooks said, construction crews have logged 113,468 man-hours on the project. About 110 to 120 workers are on site on a typical day, he said.

The project won't change Sanford Stadium's seating capacity — except at G-Day, when 12,000-plus seats will be unavailable because of the construction. Gate 10, under the Sanford Drive bridge next to the Tate Student Center, also will be closed Saturday because of the construction.

Admission to G-Day is free, but fans will receive a pass with an assigned seating section when they enter and will be asked to sit in their assigned section to help manage a turnout that UGA expects to approach the stadium's temporarily reduced capacity.

The video board is about 30 feet closer to the Sanford Drive bridge than its predecessor. That means it's pushed back farther from the seating bowl, but fans in the northwest and southwest corners will have a better angle to see it than before, Brooks noted.

The board, built by South Dakota-based Daktronics, is supported by upgrades to the audio system.

In addition to being noticeably larger than the previous 36-foot-by-72-foot board and having updated technology — "greater pixel pitch, higher definition, brighter, all these things," Brooks said --the new screen will be programmed differently.

"They're still fine-tuning some of the graphics and content that goes on it," Brooks said. "They'll have a package for G-Day, but then keep developing the packages and the graphics for the season. But I think people are going to be excited when they see the new layout that will reduce the clutter on the board and go with a much simpler look.

"Instead of the video being cropped in with banner ads around it, it can go full screen with an overlay (of score and ads) at the bottom."

Other than the video board, fans won't see much of the still-under-construction west end-zone project from within the stadium's seating bowl Saturday.That's because the new structure that will house the locker room and recruiting lounge is behind and below the end-zone seats.

But there will be visible hints from inside the stadium of the massive complex: Fans will notice the surface of a large new plaza at bridge level and a new tunnel behind the west goal post.

Come the fall, players will enter the field through that tunnel, the first time the Bulldogs have entered Sanford Stadium from the west end. The old locker room is on the east end.

The first floor of the new complex will include a 5,400-square-foot locker room, plus an equipment room, training room, sports-medicine area, coaches locker room and storage space.

The second floor will feature the latest weapon in the ever-escalating recruiting battles: a 10,575-square foot lounge for hosting and entertaining prospects and their guests, including a balcony overlooking the pregame "Dawg Walk" area.

Also on the west end, the finished project will bring bring a new lower plaza that will include expanded concession spaces and restrooms and a new upper plaza atop the recruiting lounge and below the video board.


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April 20, 2018


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