Rolling Stones’ rocking return to Bobby Dodd

Photo courtesy of Rob Felt

Cloudy skies cleared up on the evening of June 6, when the Rolling Stones made their second appearance at Tech, drawing over 40,000 fans from over a 20-mile radius into Bobby Dodd Stadium. The stands and field were packed will people — a good portion of whom had attended the Stones’ concert at Bobby Dodd in 1989.

The concert generated an abundance of positive reviews. “It was a lot of fun,” said Ariana Olalde, second-year CE. “The [Rolling Stones] were super energetic. I have never seen the stadium so packed.”

During the concert, lead singer Mick Jagger joked, “We’ve had a great time here in Atlanta. I was very impressed by Stone Mountain — so much so that we’re going to make a Rolling Stone Mountain next door.” The final song was topped off with fireworks, a spectacular end to the night.

Ryan Bamford, former Senior Associate Athletic Director at Tech, spent a great deal of time and energy bringing the Rolling Stones to Tech, as well as Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) the presenter company for the Rolling Stones. Bringing the English rock band to Tech was a challenging process involving site visits and various contractual terms that took a couple years to bring to actualization.

“It caused a little anxiety on the part of AEG, as Tech was not affiliated with the music industry and the stadium had changed a lot in twenty years — so trying to fit a concert into the stadium was a real logistical challenge,” said Mike Bobinski, Georgia Tech’s Director of Athletics. “But our people did a terrific job. It was awesome. Absolutely awesome. It turned out to be a beautiful night, we had a little rain early before the show really started, and then it cleared into a gorgeous night. But our staff, our facility and events operations staff, Georgia Tech police, Georgia Tech parking, our Fire Marshall, the Atlanta Police, Marta—everyone had a piece in making this come together, which is really a nice collaboration to see. So many people supported the event, and they were very pleased when it came off really well. It’s a nice thing when a lot of people come together and something good happens.”

Not only did the concert bring the Georgia Tech community closer together, but also introduced the people of Atlanta to Tech. “We invited the community to come to campus and enjoy an event that was fun, safe, and entertaining, and they had a great time, so I think that must have some positive effect,” said Bobinski. “President Peterson was really pleased with how it came off and I love this event because it introduces us to different people, and gets them thinking about Georgia Tech in a different way, so that part is really a good corollary benefit.”

Based on the success and positive responses from the attendees during this event, Tech hopes to host more concerts and entertainment events like this in the future. “I think we’ll have the opportunity to be considered for future shows,” said Bobinski. “But having one show doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll get another – it has to be the right show, it has to fit all of our parameters, we can only do it during certain parts of the year — but would we be interested in exploring the possibility given the success of this one? Absolutely.”

A portion of revenue generated from the concert will be added to Tech’s Department of Athletics budget to cover student-athlete’s attendance at Tech. “We have rough 380 student-athletes in total,” said Bobinski. “Those athletes are supported by a scholarship budget that has about 210 scholarships in it, so we are always looking for new and creative ways to raise additional revenue.” The Athletics Department has done smaller rentals of McCamish Pavilion and even filmed Walt Disney Pictures’ “The Million Dollar Arm” in the baseball stadium.

“We would love to plan future events like this again,” said Bobinski. “If we could find a way to work it out, where it would make sense all the way around, we would do it again, because it was a really positive first time out in twenty years. Let’s hope we don’t wait twenty more to do it again.”