Feb. 16, 2011
This is a reposting of the Wildcat Wednesday weekly email sent by Athletic Director Greg Byrne to all the wildcat fans around the country. If you would like to sign up to receive the email directly please sign up here.
THE FUTURE OF OUR FACILITIES
An article in Sunday's edition of the Arizona Daily Star brought up some ideas that had been discussed with some people in our community regarding our future facility needs. As you can imagine the story led to a lot of healthy discussion and comments. Although our facilities have served us well over the years, many need substantial improvements going forward from a fan amenity standpoint and from a recruiting and student-athlete standpoint. At a later date, we will go into more detail on what some of the issues are, but I thought I would take a few moments to follow up on what was written in the article:
- We have had discussions with various business and community leaders about a wide range of subjects as we are developing our facility and program priorities. Understandably, much was made about the fact that we had met with Tucson city leaders and members of Rio Nuevo. Part of my job as Director of Athletics is to work with and know different leaders in our community. However, we have not formed a partnership with the city or Rio Nuevo on any future facilities and do not have any plans to do so at this point.
- There are no current plans to build a new arena downtown. However, we believe that we are an important part of our community and we want Tucson and the surrounding communities to be as strong as possible. If there are ways for us to help the community and our program at the same time, then we need to at least explore different ideas.
After the article was written I received a number of emails, Tweets and Facebook messages from fans with a variety of comments and opinions. In responding to those messages, I mentioned that another part of my job as Director of Athletics is to recognize our issues/challenges and then explore all potential options to address the issues/challenges we face. That is what we have been doing and will continue to do so.
Considering our challenges ahead, University of Arizona President Robert Shelton has commissioned an Athletics Facility Planning Committee to look into all options for the distant future. By "future" I mean just that, this will be a long-term look while using our Facility Master Plan as a guide. By bringing together a group of individuals with ties to the Tucson community, we're taking a long hard look at all the challenges we face in working to position our facilities in the top third of the Pac-12.
The initial committee includes:
- Jim Click, owner of the Jim Click Automotive Team
- Fred J. DuVal, president of DuVal and Associates and a member of the Arizona Board of Regents
- Meredith Hay, executive vice president and provost of the UA
- Lawrence M. Hecker, attorney and chairman of Tucson Economic Opportunities Inc.
- Michael Kasser, CEO and founder of Hulualoa Companies
- Steve Kerr, broadcaster and former UA student-athlete
- Kenny Lofton, retired major league baseball player and former UA student-athlete
- Fletcher J. McCusker, chairman and CEO of Providence Service Corp.
- Richard T. Myers, CEO of Critical Path Institute and Regents' member
- John Perrin, UA senior associate director of athletics for finance
- Robert R. Smith, architect and director of Facilities, Design and Construction at the UA
- Joel Valdez, retired UA senior vice president for business affairs
- Marshall J. Vest, director of the Economic and Business Research Center in the UA's Eller College of Management
THE CHALLENGES OF A NEW YEAR
At last week's monthly ICA Staff Meeting, one of the more critical themes discussed was the fiscal challenge we face for the 2011-12 year. We've been a model in the intercollegiate athletics world for decades in terms of meeting our annual budgetary responsibilities. It's a role and success story we plan to continue. I relayed to the staff one credo I heard from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell -- "Change before you have to." That kind of resilience and ability to move forward with discipline will be a key for the UA and nearly all other athletics departments nationally. Our fiscal health will require some serious planning, savings strategies, innovation and the resources to follow through.
HOW WE FUND FACILITIES & IMPROVEMENTS
As we discussed above, we must continue to improve our facilities and the student-athlete experience. We have to re-invest in our success. That comes with another challenge. I received a note from Thomas Aceto reminding us to remind others -- notably the community at large and those outside of intercollegiate athletics -- that progress such as the remodeling of the men's basketball locker room (covered in the news recently) is paid for by donations and gifts, not state appropriations or student fees. Dr. Aceto, a retired college president and administrator, says his neighbors keep asking how the University can justify such expenditures during a tough economy. Gifts and donations fuel improvements. That's a message that bears repeating at every turn. Many donations and gifts are sport-specific. The benefactors may direct their support at a particular program and that allows us to re-invest in our success.
LAST CALL FOR VOLUNTEERS!
Speaking of donations, we are launching our Wildcat Club Fund Drive on March 22nd and we need your help! We are still looking for more passionate, well-connected Wildcat Club members who are willing to volunteer their time to help us recruit new donors to Arizona Athletics. This initiative is extremely important to me and I can't think of a better way for people to get directly involved with our program than by becoming a Fund Drive Volunteer! The more volunteers we have, the greater our success will be. If you are interested in helping us, please click HERE and fill out an application by this Friday, Feb. 18th.
Come out and watch your first-place Arizona men's basketball team! The Washington game is sold out, but there are still tickets available for the Washington State, Oregon State and Oregon games. The women's team returns to McKale on Feb. 24 against UCLA. And don't miss out on the improved Pac-10 Basketball Tournament in Los Angeles March 9-12. This year will include more fan events and even an Arizona headquarters for fans to meet up and interact. Buy your Pac-10 Tournament Tickets Here.
DEFINING TELEVISION PRODUCTION
I've received a number of queries from fans and supporters about why some of our televised games are not shown in high definition. The quickest answer: expense. Most network contests are usually high-def, but many of the "local" productions -- such as our games through partner IMG and its normal FOX Sports connections -- are not. High definition broadcasts start with a high definition truck -- the semi-trailer rig that parks outside the arena - which causes the production to nearly double in cost. For many of the Pac-10 schools and their local TV partners, this just isn't an option. We strive to put as many of our contests on television as possible and feel our partner does a great job of this. We'd rather have many broadcasts in standard definition rather than a few HD games.
We'll get a good chance to see how the red and blue seats in McKale Center look behind a sea of white this Saturday afternoon (4 p.m. MST) when we have a "White-Out" planned for the men's basketball game against Washington. Fans can pick up a $10 White-Out T-shirt by stopping by the McKale Sports Stop (next to our Ticket Office) this week, at the arena before the game, or by ordering online. I'm excited to see our fans white out McKale, especially with the game being nationally televised on ESPN.
Send us pictures of yourself, friends and family decked out in white to firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll post all of our fans wearing white in support of the White Out. We'll randomly select one lucky fan who will win a $50 Arizona Athletics gift card, plus we'll give away basketball tickets to two other lucky fans. One winner will receive a pair of tickets to the Oregon State game, and the other winner a pair of tickets to the Oregon. (Your photo doesn't have to be taken in McKale to participate in the Facebook contest.)
SAY IT LOUD!
Sophomore track and field student-athlete, Brigetta Barett, stopped by to invite me to her play this weekend, "Say It Loud! A Black History Month Celebration." She and Bri Giger are directors. The play will be on stage at 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in the Drama Building, Room 116, behind the Marroney Theatre. Admission is free. Please try to come out to support, celebrate and enjoy.
The Pac-10 will reveal the Pac-12 logo in mid March. I got a preview of it last week at Pac-12 meetings and it incorporates ordinal ('12') rather than Roman numerals, which we all expected. All championships this year, of course, will still use the Pac-10 mark, with fall sports previews okayed to use the new one... March Madness tips off in McKale in four weeks to the day, with open practices scheduled March 16. Tickets still remain... One bracket guess showed San Diego State and North Carolina among others slotted in Tucson's Second-Third Rounds of the Men's Basketball Championships. Repeat: it's a guess...
Continue to do what you can to help Arizona Athletics and:
- Buy Season Tickets
- Join the Wildcat Club
- Become a Fund Drive Volunteer
- Wear the Colors (Especially on Friday)
- Get Others to Do the Same