Peach Bowl CEO says smaller stadium configuration for Kickoff game was Georgia Tech’s idea
|Friday, August 19, 2022, 7:00 AM- -|
Clemson fans traveling to Atlanta for the season opener against Georgia Tech will notice that the upper deck of Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be closed off, an idea proposed by Georgia Tech after the Jackets upset North Carolina with the same configuration last season.
The Clemson vs. Georgia Tech Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game will kick off in prime time at 8 p.m. ET, Monday, Sept. 5 and will be broadcast nationally on ESPN. The matchup is the first-ever clash between two ACC teams since the creation of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in 2008.
TigerNet spoke with Gary Stokan, the CEO and President of the Peach Bowl, who said he is thrilled to have the Tigers back in Atlanta after a long absence – Clemson last appeared in the Peach Bowl in 2012 when it defeated LSU 25-24 on a last-second Chandler Catanzaro field goal.
“We've had Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl more than any other team in the country over a 54-year history, but since we've joined the CFP in the last eight years, we haven't seen Clemson in the College Football Playoff at all,” Stokan said. “It's kind of weird and strange and ironic, but hopefully Clemson plays in Atlanta twice this year, once against Georgia Tech in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game and then come back in the CFP semifinal in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.”
“We met with the ACC and Michael Strickland (the ACC's Senior Associate Commissioner for Football) and said when it makes sense that we can help you with your exclusive TV slot on Monday night with ESPN and Prime Time, we'd be glad to host two ACC teams in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game. But it has to be teams that are easy travel, because obviously people go back to work on Tuesday after Monday night. So we met with Georgia Tech and (AD) Todd Stansbury, and then we met with Stansbury and Michael Strickland.
"Tech had Clemson coming in and they said, ‘Hey, we'd love to play in Mercedes-Benz Stadium. We had a good experience playing North Carolina there last year.’ So we worked it out between us and the ACC and Mercedes-Benz Stadium to make it part of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game.”
The stadium configuration for the game will be similar to last year’s inaugural “Mayhem at Mercedes-Benz Stadium” game when Georgia Tech defeated No. 20 North Carolina, 45-22.
“We spoke to Georgia Tech and they had the same seating arrangement, 45,000 seats last year in Mercedes-Benz Stadium for North Carolina,” Stokan said. “It was a ranked team as well when they came into Atlanta, and they had a great atmosphere, great experience, and so being it's their home game in the ACC, they want to have the same kind of atmosphere as North Carolina. And so we went with the 45,000 seats, knowing that obviously there's seats on the secondary market that Clemson can still buy in an ACC game. Clemson, the visiting team, always gets the right to buy tickets. And being it's their home game, we agreed to the 45,000 seat manifest.”
After a busy opening weekend of college football, all eyes will be on Atlanta.
“That's the key. After everybody has had their weekend where they've either had family reunions or barbecues or whatever it might be, they settle in on Monday night knowing they have to go to work on Tuesday and there's a great game on TV in primetime on ESPN,” Stokan said. “So it's kind of like the dessert to Labor Day weekend. That's the way we look at it.”