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Official Review by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
The University of Georgia is the flagship university of Georgia’s higher education system. Located in Athens, Georgia, UGA was founded in 1785 and is the oldest state-chartered university in the country. There are more than 50,000 students enrolled at the Athens campus, making it the second-largest school in the Georgia University System. In addition to being the oldest university in the country, it is also proud to claim the best mascot (as honored by Sports Illustrated) in the NCAA… an English bulldog named UGA.
The University of Georgia has one of the top women’s athletic programs in the Southeastern Conference, if not the whole country. Their tennis, basketball, gymnastics and softball programs can often be found at the top of the NCAA rankings.
The home field for the UGA Diamond Dogs is Jack Turner Stadium. Built in 2004, the facility has seating for more than 1,400 fans. It is located within the Turner Family Sports Complex, which also includes the Georgia Bulldog soccer program. As you would suspect, the Turner family are generous alumni and major donors to the Bulldogs athletic programs.
Turner Stadium can be an intimidating place for visiting teams to play. Since the stadium opened, the DiamonDawgs are 234-42 at home, 81-29 versus SEC opponents, 13-4 in NCAA Regionals held at the facility and 4-0 in Super Regionals held in Athens. They also have a string of 14 consecutive 40-win seasons, including seven seasons where they won more than 50 games.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
If you haven't already filled up at the Varsity on the way to the game, don't fret...the Dawgfood served at Turner Stadium is plentiful and varied. Drinks include bottled water ($3.50), Coca-Cola products ($4.00), Powerade ($3.50) and frozen lemonade ($4.50). The food menu consists of hot dawgs ($4.00), sausages ($6.00), a giant pretzel ($4.00), corn dawgs ($4.00), nachos ($5.00), candy ($2.00), large popcorn ($5.00) and sunflower seeds ($2.00). Alcohol is not allowed at Turner Stadium.
Turner Stadium ranks among the top of the SEC and NCAA almost as often as the team that plays on its field. The bleachers are a combination of stadium seats behind the backstop with aluminum bleachers running down the baselines. The seats are elevated above field level. Additional seating is located behind the center field wall. The highest seats behind home plate are covered by a bright red awning to keep the hot Georgia sun off the spectators. The press box is large enough to hold suites for radio, TV, the printed press and officials from both teams. Another quality amenity at the stadium is a state-of-the-art matrix scoreboard, capable of showing replays, player features and a wide variety of statistical information.
While not directly on the UGA campus, Turner Stadium is just 3.5 miles from both the academic campus and downtown Athens. One attraction you will want to check out while visiting Athens is located just down the street from the stadium. The State Botanical Garden of Georgia offers an ever-changing palette of colors throughout the year, and also features some great hiking trails through the flora and fauna.
Downtown Athens and UGA are inseparable, as the only thing dividing the business district and the famed UGA Arch entrance to the university is Broad Street. Athens has been recognized as one of the top 10 Town & Gown communities in the country by several publications, including the Huffington Post, USA Today, Southern Living magazine and Rolling Stone magazine. The city is also known as the birthplace of some of the country's top rock bands, as both REM and the B-52's got their start at the legendary 40 Watt Club. The club features up-and-coming bands on a nightly basis.
Another rite of passage when in the Classic City is to have a meal at the Varsity, an Athens tradition for more than 60 years. Don't expect gourmet food... we are talking about chili dogs, hamburgers and an FO (a frosted orange drink in Varsity lingo) that is to die for. Best of all, it is located just down Milledge Avenue from Turner Stadium. Just across the street from the Varsity is the Best Western Downtown, the nearest lodging to the field.
The Diamond Dog fans can best be described as rabid (yes, they have had their rabies shots!). Turner Stadium is usually full for any SEC matchup, and they play a very tough national schedule, as well. The fans are very into the game, and Georgia rallies are often met with three main cheers... "Go Dawgs... Woof, Woof Woof," "Go Dawgs... Sic'em!" and the always classic "who let the dawgs out?" Turner Stadium offers the same music as most college baseball stadiums, but the music is often supplemented by the UGA pep band, which often leads the crowd in the UGA fight song, "Glory, Glory to old Georgia," which everyone joins in on, no matter how bad their voice.
Turner Stadium is located 3.5 miles from the campus, just off the loop road that encircles Athens. There is ample parking at the sports complex, and free shuttles will ferry students from the campus to the stadium on a frequent basis. The concourse is located behind the stands and is wide enough to allow for very easy navigation. The multiple restrooms and concession stands assure little or no lines will form.
The return on investment is excellent for games at Turner Stadium. Georgia is one of the few SEC schools that do not charge admission. There is also free parking immediately adjacent to the stadium. UGA also provides fans with free programs and has very generous giveaways. If someone is visiting from another SEC school or another distant location, the hotels in Athens run in the $70-$80 range (this is not true on football Saturdays, however!). Visitors from Atlanta have no more than an hour's drive home via Hwy 316 (University Parkway). It is no wonder that multiple generations of a family attend the Diamond Dog games, as it is so economical.
The UGA athletic department provides a very informative four-color program free of charge that provides both starting lineups.
The music and club scene after the game deserves its own extra star.
Between each inning, a competition with prizes is held, and a community group is recognized for its good works.
The scoreboard really adds a professional touch to the stadium.
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2450 S Milledge Ave
Athens, GA 30606
170 N Milledge Ave
Athens, GA 30601