A concert held last weekend at the University of Georgia’s Sanford Stadium was an immediate success for those both on campus and off. The country concert featured Georgia artists Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan and Thomas Rhett as well as Florida native Jake Owen.
"First impressions are just, just very happy,” explained Assistant Athletic Director Joshua Brooks, Internal Operations. “It was just an awesome sight seeing the stage and the performance and the fans being so into it on their feet the whole time."
Brooks facilitated the event and said the concert took about two years of planning and coordination by the Athletic Association, the University and the musicians.
"The genesis of this idea was never about to make money,” explained Brooks. “It was about to do something cool in the stadium in a venue that's not being used but seven or eight times a year once you count in commencement and do something that's going to have a big economic boom for the city and the county."
Brooks said the Athletic Association is still paying vendors and calculating its return on the event, but he does believe it will be enough to cover the cost of the upcoming Sanford Stadium improvement project. Precision Turf of Lilburn, Ga. won the contract for the project, which will regrade the field and replace the irrigation system.
According to Charles Whittemore, Assistant Athletic Director for Facilities, the project will cost about $250,000. But the upgrades are projected to save almost 2.5 billion gallons of water each year that would have been used to maintain the field. That represents a savings of about $25,000 annually, Whittemore said.
The improvement project is slated to begin after May commencement and end by July. That should allow the grass to grow in fully ahead of the first home football game against South Carolina on September 7.
With five months to go before football fans return to Athens, Kathryn Lookofsky, Director of the Athens Downtown Development Authority said the 60,000 concert goers gave local businesses a boost.
"I think everyone's very excited about it. It's nice to have something other than, you know, football Saturdays and our normal events downtown to bring people down. It's a new event and people are very excited about that. Initial reactions from our bars and restaurants, it was a great weekend,” explained Lookofsky, who said she will continue to talk to business owners about their increased profits. “It's still early, but I think overall the reaction was very positive."
Lookofsky said she would love to see the University host more events like the Aldean concert in the future.
“We has a great situation where there were two artists who were at the peak of their careers and they have connections to Georgia. They love Georgia. It was just perfect timing,” Brooks said of the event. “It would be hard to duplicate that again, but I definitely think it's possible.”