August 18, 2010
ADDING TO THE FAMILY
Last week, our Wildcat Club staff reported a couple of figures that represent a nice trend in our support groups. Currently, Wildcat Club membership (fans who contribute $100 or more annually) is up to 7,194, an increase of nearly 20 percent over the 2008-09 year. There is no reason we can't hit 12,000 members and be at the top of the Pac-10... The total number of donors to Arizona Athletics - including those who gave less than $100 - was more than 11,000 for the same period. Every gift means a tremendous amount to our University and Athletic Department.... We also had more than 1,500 first-time Wildcat Club members, with a loss of around 400. The economy plays a role in this factor, for sure, but that's a substantial boost for us, giving us a retention rate of 93 percent. The entirety of the report gives us a good feeling about the future.
WELL-PLANNED AND WELL-RECEIVED
Kudos are owed to staff here and to our fans in Arizona who helped make the recent Arizona Road Trip tour of several cities and towns a big success. The event served its purpose in helping us take the Wildcat story beyond our city limits and to let supporters know that we're thinking of them no matter where they live. Check out our archive of videos from all the various stops. We're already working on a list of stops for next year, so stay tuned.
The trip finished up at Sierra Vista for the football scrimmage to close the team's training segment at Fort Huachuca. The success of the trip made us believe we'll be making more to other parts of the state in the near future.
PIGSKIN -- AND I DON'T MEAN SNACKS
It's a bit out of date to call a football a pigskin, but if you're paying attention Arizona football kicks off its season on the gridiron in 16 days. Yes! The first home game is September 11. You need tickets, and we need you to buy them. That's the commercial part of this message. The rest is my exuberance for what a fall football Saturday can mean. I grew up in the household of an athletics director and the stuff is in my blood. I'm more than eager to see how we present ourselves as a University, a stadium full of fans and a football team. A host of people have helped prepare the University for 2010 Wildcat Football and the countdown is getting closer.
And this week's "Meet the Team" event at Arizona Stadium on Saturday is another step closer. The event starts at 6 p.m. (gates open at 5 p.m.) on Saturday and affords fans a chance to watch the team practice and run some plays, and mingle with the student-athletes afterward. There will be a post-scrimmage autograph session on Bear Down Field (just north of Arizona Stadium), so bring your markers.
DYED IN THE WOOL RED AND BLUE
I never tire of hearing how wearing our block `A' can foster some quick friendships. You know when I'm out there I'm regularly wearing our colors, and it does the trick every time. David Larson wrote me about his red U of A softball shirt fostering some enjoyable conversations with total strangers between Oklahoma City, Minnesota and Montana. The fact of the matter is that people aren't total strangers once you signal yourself as an ambassador for the Wildcats. No reason it can't be a continental or global phenomenon...
Be sure to email pictures of yourself to email@example.com so that we can spotlight you on our Arizona Athletics Facebook page.
SPEAKING OF DYE, HOW ABOUT SOME INK?
U of A grad Matthew Chavez notes that a couple of his fellow alums opted to make some personal statements about the U of A in a bit more permanent fashion. No one can accuse these dudes, Ryan Sweeney (left) and Ben Duquette of giving their school the cold shoulder. (Note: Regina and I have yet to give Nick and Davis such permission! They can get the stick-ons like the cheerleaders.)
...Not exactly, since we don't want you to consider going to other schools' football games instead of ours, but we thought you might appreciate some background on what it costs to do so elsewhere. The Portland Oregonian ran a series of articles on football ticket prices a few days ago. Please check out the links HERE to see how the Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, SEC and others price their contests. It gives you some raw data on how the University of Arizona offers an attractive evening of fun in Arizona Stadium for some reasonable rates. And while you're at it, maybe you want to park yourself in one of these Arizona Seatback cushions permanently attached to your season tickets.
WORKING ON THE PITCH
Lisa Oyen, a top U of A assistant since 2003, has her Wildcat Soccer team working hard in camp prior to her inaugural season as head coach. Lisa took over the squad in October a year ago as interim coach and was officially elevated to the top post last November. With a mix of veterans and a well-regarded incoming class, the Cats should be very competitive and ready for the season opener in San Diego on Aug. 27. Please look at the schedule and come out and watch our team this fall.
Although men's basketball season is a little farther away, we want you to know that we are putting our season ticket renewals in the mail by the end of this week. Current season ticket holders may renew online. Visit My Account Manager to log into your account. Coach Miller and his staff have done an outstanding job this offseason and will have the guys ready to compete starting this November. We hope that you will be back with us this season in McKale. If you haven't had season tickets in the past but want to join us this year, just click here.
DO NOT FEED THE CATS
A major SEC program was recently made aware of potential sanctions because some local restaurants and businesses were giving special treatment/discounts to their football student-athletes. In order to make sure we don't experience a similar fate, we are sending a letter from me to several nearby "hot spots" reminding them not to treat Wildcat student-athletes any differently from the rest of their customers. Here's a link to the letter. Feel free to pass it along. We want to make sure everyone knows the rules and follows them.
STADIUM LIGHTS WILL BE ON
Reminder, we are installing new lighting at Arizona Stadium.
Part of the process involves "burning in" and testing the new lights for an extended period to make adjustments and confirm that the lights will function properly on game nights. During this testing period the stadium lights will be on during the day and some evening hours for 5 straight days. Once the testing period is complete, the lights will be illuminated only as needed for football games, practices or other scheduled stadium events.
The tentative schedule for light testing: dawn to 9 p.m. on Saturday, August 21; dawn to dusk on Sunday, August 22 and Monday, August 23; and dawn to 11 p.m. on Tuesday, August 24; and dawn to 10 p.m. on Wednesday, August 25.
The new lights have been specified to improve the illumination in the stadium for fans and HD television cameras, while reducing the amount of light spill outside of the stadium into the community.
One last item, I am using Twitter more and more. I am able to stay updated on a lot of issues within intercollegiate athletics from the people I follow in a quick and efficient manner. In an attempt to drive more traffic to Twitter, so that we can share timely and interesting information, I have been giving unique giveaways through my Twitter account @Greg_Byrne on a regular basis (everyone likes a free T-shirt or lunch).
A number of people tell me that they don't use Twitter because they "don't have anything interesting to say." Outbound communication is one tool but I get a lot out of following the Tweets that I do. Anyway, take the time and sign up for Twitter....you may like it.
Director of Athletics
University of Arizona