Issuu on Google+

SPECIAL REPORT 2013

THE REGION’S BUSINESS MAGAZINE

Game Changer $72.3 Million Lowell-Stevens Football Facility Brings New Era for Arizona


BizSPORTS

Game Changer $72.3 Million Lowell-Stevens Football Facility

150 BizTucson

<<<

Fall 2013


PHOTOS: COURTESY OF ARIZONA ATHLETICS

Welcome to the 21st century, Arizona fans. University of Arizona Athletics is building for a better future. Serving as the centerpiece of the much-needed modernization is the newly christened, $72.3 million Lowell-Stevens Football Facility. This athletic showplace has grabbed the attention of the Arizona faithful and more than a few recruits. Made possible by major gifts from two Arizona families and UA alums – David and Edith Lowell and Jeff and Sharon Stevens, among others – the facilities aim to help launch Arizona back into the national sports spotlight. This isn’t your father’s UA athletic program. “It’s been a lot of hard work with the support of our donors,” said UA VP for Athletics Greg Byrne. The hard work is paying off in a boost to the athletic program and its fans. The work continues, however, as the UA raises money to help pay off the $56 million that remains due on the facility, as well as funds needed for other renovations to aging facilities. Donations are being accepted – and appreciated – every day. The goal: make Arizona Athletics competitive with the very best in the nation. Arizona Stadium has become hip and happening, a place to be and be seen. Wear the colors, by the way. New and improved are not catch phrases. Or slogans. Or pipe dreams. They are realities at the corner of Cherry and Vine. Change is brewing, and it couldn’t be more visible than at the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility, where there’s not a bad seat in the house. With the addition of new stadium turf and new paint and seal in the rest of the stadium, the whole thing is candy to the eyes. It’s brighter, has more pop.

continued on page 152 >>>

Brings New Era for Arizona Wildcats

By Steve Rivera

continued on page 76 >>> www.BizTucson.com

Fall 2013 > > > BizTucson 151


BizSPORTS continued from page 151 Whether that translates into touchdowns and victories over the long haul is still unknown, but it’s a start. “It gives us a shot,” said Rich Rodriguez, Arizona football coach. Byrne has called it Arizona’s game changer. If 20-plus years ago Arizona sold the program on family and fundamentals, it can now add another F – facilities … finally. James Francis, senior associate director of athletics for external operations, said response to the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility from fans and donors has been “overwhelmingly positive.” “When we began this project we had three clear goals – to recruit elite student-athletes, enhance revenue generation and improve fan amenities. From the moment the facility opened it has succeeded in allowing us to improve in these three critical areas.”

He said the new facility “represents our collective investment in improving each of our 20 intercollegiate sports programs. We’ve made the commitment to a future of winning football, which will help support our entire department.” Francis said every fan and donor counts. “Every single person who buys tickets and attends a game, or joins the Wildcat Club is helping – and for that we’re very appreciative. As not only a member of our staff but also a UA alum, it’s exciting to be a part of this program. The future is bright for Arizona Athletics.” The Lowell-Stevens is one of the many steps in Byrne’s vision of Arizona’s athletic refurbishment. For years, it seemed Arizona Athletics had been held hostage by dated facilities. It was Arizona’s Achilles heel and what seemed to be a black hole for blue chippers. Arizona officials were even hesitant to take recruits to the tired and

weathered locker room. Not anymore. These days, UA is a destination place. Top-notch recruits are popping up everywhere. “We are way, way behind from a facility standpoint, especially in football,” Byrne said. “But Lowell-Stevens is addressing that in a significant manner to help our football infrastructure get competitive with everyone in the Pac-12 and in the country.” A new facility does help – just ask Arizona baseball coach Andy Lopez, who benefitted from the move to Hi Corbett Field, winning new fans and a national title in 2012. “You have to have a facility and element that allows your guys (to succeed),” Lopez said. He said top student-athletes are excited to be part of a program with excellent, energized facilities. Arizona officials and their donors accontinued on page 154 >>>

Groundbreaking – Jan. 20, 2012 Date of completion – July 1, 2013 Total project cost – $72.3 million Total square feet – 189,000 Number of stories – Five Architect – Heery International Contractor – Mortenson Construction Jobs created – More than 300, with local subcontractors making up 80 percent of the crew Number of seats – 576 club seats, 3,613 in lower bowl New turf – High-end Field Turf replaces grass. Drainage is in place to reduce heat, and water cannons cool things off during mid-afternoon practices. The field is recruit-ready 24/7/365. PHOTOS: COURTESY OF ARIZONA ATHLETICS

Concessions – Three new concession stands offer traditional game fare – hot dogs, nachos and now fries and burgers. New and trendy international hotdogs – Chilean, Czech, Sonoran, Montreal, Danish, Cajun, Okinawan. Also available – gluten-free foods, sushi and Pinkberry frozen yogurt. Restrooms – Two new women’s restrooms, one for men Square footage of workout facilities – 6,200 Number of offices – 23 Bear Down Kitchen – The cafeteria is open to the public Monday through Friday for breakfast or lunch, provided there isn’t an UA Athletics function taking place. Source: UA Athletics

152 BizTucson

<<<

Fall 2013

www.BizTucson.com


BizSPORTS

continued from page 152 knowledge that facilities are a crucial element in building an outstanding athletic program. “As we say every day to our athletes, you’re either getting better or you’re getting worse,” Byrne said. “You have to continue to reinvest in your success.” Lowell-Stevens represents the largest reinvestment in recent years. Before the massive video screen and speakers went up in the south end zone in 2011, nothing major had occurred in or on Arizona Stadium since the late 1980s when the press box and sky boxes were built. “The Lowell-Stevens project is the most significant project the athletics department has gone through since 1973 when McKale Center opened,” Byrne said. Here’s what you’ll find in the five floors of football favorites at Lowell-Stevens:

• The first floor includes Arizona’s football tradition of

film and photos. It also houses the weight room, equipment room, medical treatment room and locker room.

• The second floor overlooks it all. • The third floor is the brain trust – coaches’ offices, a 120-seat

auditorium and a players’ lounge. There are also academic and media areas.

• The

fourth floor includes the concourse, cafeteria, Bear Down Kitchen (training table) and the area that connects both on game days.

• The fifth floor is the Sands Club, with a spacious area for food, drink and mingling. There are club boxes with 576 seats – posh digs for the discriminating football fan.

Longtime Arizona fan and booster Peter Evans thinks the new area is “fantastic.” He purchased a club box and continues to have seats on the east side. “I like the amenities,” Evans said. “You have to give me a reason to go there instead of staying home and watching on HD. With the video screen and the new seats it gives me that reason to go.” More importantly, what it shows is that Arizona officials are making every effort to provide student-athletes and fans a great game-day experience. “They are thrilled, absolutely thrilled,” Byrne said of UA players. “We’re trying to enhance the fan experience. They are the best seats in the house. “If I was Joe Fan buying four season tickets for my family that’s where I’d be sitting,” Byrne continued. “That’s as honest as the day is long. That’s a great place to watch a game.” And a pretty good place to take in the ambiance of an exciting football game, with 3,613 new chair back seats in the lower bowl of the North End Zone. New and improved is always good, especially when attracting top student-athletes.. “Facilities play a factor (in a decision a student-athlete makes to attend a school),” Rodriguez said. “But an overriding factor is the commitment to the program that people show. Kids want to go and play where football is important. That’s a natural. “We can show football is important at Arizona,” Rodriguez continued. “Look at what we spent on this facility.” Elite facilities beget elite players. Rodriguez said if you are going to talk the talk then you have to make it happen. “What this shows is there is a huge commitment to Arizona football,” he said.

Biz

154 BizTucson

<<<

Fall 2013

www.BizTucson.com


www.BizTucson.com

Fall 2013 > > > BizTucson 155


BizSPORTS

PHOTO: COURTESY OF ARIZONA ATHLETICS

It’s going to be a major part of Arizona Athletics for years to come. It’s something I’m very proud to have.

– Jeff Stevens Donor, University of Arizona Athletics

Jeff and Sharon Stevens

Stevens Create New Era of Wildcat Football By Steve Rivera University of Arizona alumni Jeff and Sharon Stevens stepped up in 2009 like no other donors had done before – they gave $12 million, simultaneously giving the athletic program a shot of hope. “We wanted to do something to give back,” said Jeff Stevens. “It was something for everyone to build upon and make the program flourish.” Mission accomplished. The gift helped UA move into the new age of college football – a fresh jolt in competitiveness and the start of more funds coming in, leading to the creation of the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility. It’s money well spent, Stevens said. “I had a vision of what it would be – but I think everybody’s impression is that they are in awe with the size and scope of it and very impressed with it being a first-class facility,” said the Phoenix resident. “It’s going to be a major part of Arizona Athletics for 156 BizTucson

<<<

Fall 2013

years to come. It’s something I’m very proud to have.” Even if parting with money came during the recession. But having foresight and a keen business sense – he’s president, COO and director of Western Refining – Stevens saw an urgent need for UA to move forward with its athletic vision. He called it “perfect timing” in that a number of firms would bid and materials would be affordable because of the recession. “I thought it was important for Arizona to build upon its football program because that has the biggest potential for additional revenue to help other sports,” Stevens said. “It was important to get the football program to a level with the other elite programs in the country.” His level of commitment shouldn’t be judged by the facility’s title, with Stevens scoring second billing. When he and donor David Lowell met with UA VP for Athletics Greg Byrne, they de-

termined it did not matter whose name came first. Byrne joked that he’d flip a coin for it. All agreed. Lowell picked tails and, well, it came up tails. The Lowell-Stevens Football Facility was born. The Stevens met at UA in the 1980s when the university was in the early stages of establishing itself in the Pac10. He and then-girlfriend Sharon watched Larry Smith coach football and sat in the basketball stands just behind Lute Olson after the coach arrived from Iowa in 1983. “We went to baseball games when they were very strong in the 1980s. We saw the transition from Larry Smith to Dick Tomey. We lived through UA’s 8-0-1 streak against Arizona State. It was a very enjoyable era. It made a difference in our lives.” Now they are returning the favor with the hope of making a difference for others.

Biz www.BizTucson.com


www.BizTucson.com

Fall 2013 > > > BizTucson 157


BizSPORTS

– David Lowell Donor, University of Arizona Athletics

Edith and David Lowell

Lowells Build Athletic Tradition at UA By Steve Rivera When David and Edith Lowell look at what they helped create at Arizona Stadium – the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility – a rush comes over them. “It looks so beautiful,” said Edith Lowell. “I’m pleased and proud.” All parties should be. Without the Lowells’ timely $11 million donation, it never would have been possible. Of course, others are helping bring together Arizona’s $72.3 million gem on the north side of Arizona Stadium. (See story, pg. 150) “It’s come out better than I expected,” said David Lowell, who along with a handful of others traveled the country to visit university football facilities to gauge what they wanted at UA. “We saw four or five of the nicest facilities and I think this one now ranks with some of the others.” In 2010, the Lowells pledged $11 million anonymously. 158 BizTucson

<<<

Fall 2013

It was not the first time that the couple made a major donation to UA. The J. David Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources at the UA was launched with a seed endowment from Lowell, along with a grant from Science Foundation Arizona. The Lowells have contributed millions throughout the last two decades to help Arizona Athletics succeed. “The fun is being part of the new thing that has been built and making new friends,” David Lowell, one of the world’s experts in mining exploration, said of the football facility. Natives of Nogales, the UA alumni were Wildcat athletes – he played football and she played a variety of sports. Field hockey was her favorite. More than a dozen family members have attended and graduated as Wildcats. Between the two they have seven degrees. Among them, he has an engineering degree (1949), later earning a

degree in geology from Stanford University in 1957. At UA, Edith earned a degree in anthropology (1948) and a master’s in Spanish (1950). They were married in 1948. “We’re very happy to be able to do what we do,” David Lowell said. “It’s been a pleasure. We’re proud to be part of something permanent at the university.” And the money? Well, it came not long after the Lowells gave more than $2.5 million to the UA to help with the Richard Jefferson Gymnasium and the Hillenbrand Aquatic Center, at a time when the recession hit. The Lowells didn’t blink an eye when asked to help. “I think that it makes more sense to give to a university than to keep it in a bank and be buried with it,” David Lowell said. “We’re just glad that we’ve been able to help establish something at the university where people can enjoy it for a long time.” Biz www.BizTucson.com

PHOTO: COURTESY OF ARIZONA ATHLETICS

I think that it makes more sense to give to a university than to keep it in a bank and be buried with it.


www.BizTucson.com

Fall 2013 > > > BizTucson 159


BizSPORTS Greg Byrne VP for Athletics University of Arizona

Man Mission on a

Byrne Leads Charge for a Stronger UA By Steve Rivera

160 BizTucson

<<<

Fall 2013

www.BizTucson.com


Talk about blind ambition. A young Greg Byrne had it on March 22, 2010. That’s the day the University of Arizona hired Byrne, then 38, to be its new athletic director. He was the face of a new vision, a sign of renewed hope. A new age, even. Byrne was home – even if he hadn’t seen Arizona Athletics with a jeweler’s eye. In fact, he hadn’t seen it at all, accepting the job in “the darkness of night” after a quick “in-and-out visit.” “I didn’t even see the facilities. I had left Arizona nearly 20 years ago and had only been back a couple of times,” said Byrne, who had a close-up look at Pac10 facilities while working in athletics at Oregon and Oregon State. “But frankly I was surprised at where we were (in terms of infrastructure),” said Byrne, now 41 and VP for Athletics. “I thought I saw an opportunity for us to make improvements. And there was a lot of work to be done.” Byrne & Co. are making great strides. “We are collectively doing that,” he said. “It’s all of us together – all of us pulling the rope.” UA booster and all-around Wildcat fan Peter Evans said, “I can’t imagine there’s a better AD than Greg Byrne.

it could be the jewel of the state. He and the rest of the athletic officials are putting some money behind advertising the Wildcats statewide. Arizona’s ad campaign is: “Our State Your Wildcats … Make a Statement.” The statewide impact will be seen soon enough. But in Southern Arizona and in Tucson, if you don’t bleed UA red and blue, something is wrong. “Come to one of our games,” Byrne said. “It doesn’t matter what sport – it can be a soccer game or football, baseball, softball ... there is such a melting pot of people that come together and it doesn’t matter their political views. It doesn’t matter their socioeconomic status. There is one common goal, and that is to root for the Arizona Wildcats. In my biased opinion, I think our society needs more things like this that bring people together. You say ‘Bear Down’ and it means something.” Byrne engages the business community, knowing they contribute greatly to the health of the program. He encourages all of Tucson to wear red to work on Fridays. It seems to be working. Byrne said the reason to show support is not just fan loyalty, but recruits often begin their visits on a Friday. And when it comes to recruiting, every positive matters.

PHOTO: CHRIS MOONEY

Greg Byrne gets it. He understands – not just football, but intercollegiate athletics and the role that we play. –

Rich Rodriguez, University of Arizona Football Coach

“He’s a 21st century AD, if you combine his passion and energy and his social media skills,” Evans added. “And he enjoys engaging with his customers, who are UA supporters and fans. He’s as good as it gets.” Rich Rodriguez, who is in his second season as UA’s football coach, appreciates Byrne’s savvy and tenacity. “Greg Byrne gets it,” Rodriguez said. “He understands – not just football, but intercollegiate athletics and the role that we play.” With a budget of $60 million and a roster of 500 student-athletes, Arizona Athletics plays a significant role in the university. Like the nose on a face or the striking eyes to the soul. “We’re a small part of the UA – but a very visible part,” Rodriguez said. Byrne is the man leading the team. “We are being aggressively conservative,” Byrne said, when it comes to managing money and making things happen at a university that needs more than a coat of paint. But thanks to a generous business community, donors and an insightful public, Arizona is headed in the right direction. And, yes indeed, it does take a village. “I think it’s significant that our university is right in the center of this community geographically,” Byrne said. In fact, many would say it’s not just the center but the heart and soul of the city. Byrne would argue that

www.BizTucson.com

“When you think of Tucson, Arizona, I think the first thing you think of is the U of A – right, wrong or indifferent,” Byrne said. “The Athletic Department is like the front porch of your house. It’s not the most important part of your house by any stretch – just like we aren’t the most important part of the university – but it’s the first part they see.” Athletics does that to a school. It lifts spirits and encourages the mind. The baseball program did that in the summer of 2012 when it went on a capable yet improbable run to an NCAA title. It provided a spark to the community’s passion. “When we were back in Omaha, and our baseball team was winning the national championship we sensed the energy,” Byrne said. “We could feel the energy in Omaha that was going on in Tucson. When we came back and there were thousands upon thousands of people welcoming the baseball team in McKale, it was incredible.” Arizona caught magic in a bottle that day. Arizona likely did it as well with Byrne, the son of a former athletic director. “It’s refreshing,” UA baseball coach Andy Lopez said of Byrne and his style. “It’s exciting. I’m pulling for him. It’s fun to be around a guy who has a lot of vision and the attitude of, ‘let’s go do it and attack this thing.’ ”

Biz

Fall 2013 > > > BizTucson 161


PHOTO: COURTESY OF ARIZONA ATHLETICS

BizSPORTS

UA President Ann Weaver Hart and VP for Athletics Greg Byrne congratulate members of the track and field team during halftime at Arizona Stadium.

UA President is

Wild Cats about the

By Gabrielle Fimbres

On the football field, the basketball court and just about any arena of competition at the University of Arizona, you will find Ann Weaver Hart. The UA president is one enthusiastic Wildcat fan. “I love it,” Hart said. “I truly enjoy watching those young men and women do what they love best. I love being with the fans. It reinforces my commitment to this great institution and provides a wonderful spirit around the hard work we all do every day.” Hart is committed to supporting Arizona Athletics and all it brings to the university and the community. “The most important thing for the 162 BizTucson

<<<

Fall 2013

University of Arizona Athletics in our community is our contribution to the culture, to the spirit and to the bonding of our community around a wonderful and supportive activity that exemplifies who we are,” she said Leading that charge with Hart is UA VP for Athletics Greg Byrne. “Athletics is part of the fabric of who we are,” Hart said. “It’s woven within the community in a way that introduces people to our university but also exemplifies our spirit of achievement and pride through the values that Greg represents and that our coaches uphold. “That is why it is so important that we have a leader like Greg who un-

derstands, supports and reinforces the student-athlete as a member of the broader university community,” she continued. Arizona Athletics receives 315 tuition waivers for student-athletes annually, authorized by the Arizona Board of Regents. Tuition waivers are also granted to Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University. The athletics department is responsible for covering room, board and book costs to supplement the tuition waivers and is responsible for generating revenues to cover the department’s annual operating costs. continued on page 167 >>> www.BizTucson.com


www.BizTucson.com

Fall 2013 > > > BizTucson 163


PHOTO: CHRIS MOONEY

BizSPORTS Rich Rodriguez Football Coach University of Arizona

Rich Rod on the Prowl By Steve Rivera When Arizona football coach Rich Rodriguez gazes out his office window at the new Lowell-Stevens Football Facility, he can see the Santa Catalina Mountains to the north, McKale Center to the east and students walking to class straight ahead. “I’ve got a beautiful view, and it’s nice and all that but most of the time I won’t be in my office just looking,” Rodriguez said. “I’m turning my head to watch film.” 164 BizTucson

<<<

Fall 2013

It’s about the next practice. Next play. Next down. Victory and success don’t come any easier to explain. But a room with a view is always good. It’s also nice to have a vision. Rodriguez, now in his second season at Arizona and his first few months in his new digs on the third floor of LowellStevens Football Facility, has that as he continues to rebuild Arizona’s program.

“There are challenges in recruiting no matter where you are,” Rodriguez said. “Our biggest challenge is getting guys to visit. You don’t pass through Tucson on the way to somewhere. It’s not on the regular path.” Now, as it pertains to UA football, it just might be. On the first week of the official unveiling of the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility, Rodriguez benefitted from a huge recruiting coup – getting continued on page 166 >>> www.BizTucson.com


www.BizTucson.com

Fall 2013 > > > BizTucson 165


BizSPORTS continued from page 164 four solid recruits to say “yes” to the program for what looks like a solid future. When one – or four – come, many others follow. It could be the Pied Piper of UA football. “Not only do we have our weather, but we have our community,” Rodriguez said, adding some of the key features of Tucson for recruits. “Once we get them here we can show them how nice it is.” Word of mouth always helps as does text and/or YouTube, which today’s players use relentlessly. Today’s players are all about social media. One studentathlete tells another and he tells someone and, well, you get the picture. “We had 40-some recruits here (recently) and many treated it as a big event – and it was,” Rodriguez said. “It was something to be part of and something new.” Rodriguez said it “might have been the single best recruiting night in the history of Arizona football, to have so many kids who were offered (scholarships). It hasn’t happened here before.”

166 BizTucson

<<<

Fall 2013

It’s the power of having a bright, shiny new object. And Arizona has that now in the $72.3 facility that could be the beacon to recruits all over the country. Still – and realistically – Arizona isn’t Alabama or Florida or Texas. But yet, it isn’t the mid-1990s when former UA coach Dick Tomey was asking for newer facilities to help showcase Arizona’s sleeping giant. Two decades later, it’s here – or at least 25 percent of the new stadium is here, save for the addition and refurbishing the south end zone went through the last couple of years.

Our biggest challenge is getting guys to visit. Once we get them here we can show them how nice it is.

– Rich Rodriguez University of Arizona Football Coach

“They were going to build this whether I came here or not,” Rodriguez said. “It’s just that the timing was pretty good.” As is the multi-use facility. And yet, Rodriguez said, “it’s not over the top.” He used words like sharp and clean and “not overstated.” “You can get caught up in nice things, but you can get too country-clubish,” he said. “You can lose focus on what the main purpose of the building is – its functionality.” That’s what the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility provides. And, well, Rodriguez, a native of West Virginia, isn’t exactly country club. At least not completely. “I like country clubs, but this is a work environment, first and foremost,” he said. “That’s what the most important part of this all is.” Which leads to his favorite places in the new building – the team meeting room and the players’ lounge. “They are two rooms that have a huge purpose,” he said. “Teamwork and team fun.”

Biz

www.BizTucson.com


continued from page 162 The department receives no state appropriations or student fees. All funds required for new facilities and renovations are provided through the support of ticket buyers and donors.  “Under financial stress it’s important for people to understand that donor and fan involvement actually supports this incredible program and that we are not using the tuition of other students to subsidize our athletics program,” Hart said. “I was president at two universities before coming to the University of Arizona and neither one of those had athletic programs that were self sustaining,” she added. “There is huge support for the fun and spirit that athletics provides everywhere I have been. But to have a place where donors and fans create an environment where that great spirit can flourish without putting additional financial pressure on the other activities of the university is tremendous.” Donors to the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility – UA alumni David and Edith Lowell and Jeff and Sharon Stevens, among others – allow Arizona

www.BizTucson.com

Athletics to take its game to the next level. She said the improvements allow for a safer environment for student-athletes. “The facility makes that fan experience wonderful,” she said. “But deep within Lowell-Stevens is a weight room and facilities that help our athletes be safe, strong and successful.” She and Byrne are committed to building not just great athletes but accomplished students. “We want them to go to class, we want them to succeed as students, we want them to graduate from the university,” Hart said. “We know that very few of them will make their living as career athletes and their experience at the University of Arizona needs to be as a student as well as an athlete.” She applauds Byrne’s no-nonsense approach to academics. His rule: if you don’t go to class, you don’t play. And it’s paying off. “One of the shining stars this year was our football program had the highest single-year academic performance rating in the Pac-12 – above Stanford, above UCLA,” Byrne said. “It’s not just graduation, it’s grade point average and

eligibility. It’s a measuring stick of how you are doing.” Hart said that Wildcat symbol unites fans around the world. Wear your Wildcat gear and you’re bound to find a kindred spirit. “Last summer one of my daughters was backpacking in the Wind River Mountains in Wyoming wearing a University of Arizona baseball cap. Above the tree line on a mountain pass walking over the snow she hears, ‘Oh my word, are you from the University of Arizona?’ You run into Wildcats everywhere,” Hart said. She is also proud of the program’s economic impact. “Athletics is a huge contributor to the economic well-being of our community, and that means a lot to us,” said Hart, who was named one of the 50 Most Influential Women in Arizona by Arizona Business Magazine. Beyond that, athletics helps build the leaders of the future. “It helps create the people they are,” she said. “Athletics contributes to the growth of our community and to the incredible future of our young people – and we are very proud of that.”

Biz

Fall 2013 > > > BizTucson 167


BizSPORTS

UA Pumps Millions into the Economy By Jay Gonzales Like a quarterback flinging a football in Rich Rodriguez’s fast-paced offense, University of Arizona Athletics sends dollar signs flying all over the Tucson community in a wide variety of ways. And while there’s very little hard data to determine just how much of an economic impact athletics has on the Tucson area, there’s no doubt among those affected that the number is huge. “Arizona Athletics attracts visiting fans and their expenditures to Tucson – along with national exposure to potential visitors and corporate decisionmakers considering expanding or relocating businesses,” said Brent DeRaad, president and CEO for Visit Tucson. The impact goes beyond games, ticket sales, merchandise and hospitality. When the UA builds a facility like the $72.3 million Lowell-Stevens Football Facility, jobs are created and materials have to be purchased. UA Athletics is a growing, $60 million per year business and the Tucson community feels it in

168 BizTucson

<<<

Fall 2013

the wallet. “The direct spending by the athletic department impacts nearly every kind of local business,” said Laura Shaw, senior VP of corporate and community affairs for Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities. “With increased business, suppliers in turn hire new employees, purchase materials, expand space and so on.” The most visible impact seems to be related to the games. One study done by a UA student for his master’s program did provide hard data that shows how much money can come into the community when a big football game is on the schedule. Kevin Wittner, now an account manager for a Connecticut sports marketing firm, was pursuing his master’s degree at UA’s Eller College of Management when he conducted a study on one event – the 2010 UA-Iowa football game. Through surveys and ticket data, Wittner’s study determined that there

was direct visitor spending of $8.2 million in the community with a total economic impact of $13.8 million. The nationally televised game was a sellout that attracted an estimated 16,000 visitors so it was by no means the norm. But Wittner’s study went on to estimate that the 2010 football season had a total economic impact of $57.6 million, with 473 full-time jobs created. The important thing about those dollar figures, Wittner said, is that games like that bring in “new money.” It doesn’t just move it from one wallet to another within the community. “I do think it’s important to call out the difference between displaced money and new money,” Wittner said. “What’s unique about college athletics is the travel element. That brings new dollars into a city. That’s what we were tracking. “There were people who made a whole week out of (the Iowa game).

www.BizTucson.com


They spent a couple of thousand dollars on food and lodging just because there was a game going on.” Mark Van Buren, GM of Tucson Marriott University Park just west of campus, has vivid memories of the spending that was taking place that week – not only at his hotel but the surrounding businesses and all over town. “That game had more significance for us than any game since I’ve been here,” said Van Buren, who has been at the Marriott since 2008. “(Iowa fans) came in early and they were spending money all over. They went to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. They went downtown. They went shopping.” But Van Buren adds there’s a misconception that football is the only sport that generates revenue for the community. He points out, as did DeRaad from Visit Tucson, that UA Athletics brings in visitors throughout the year and benefits go on outside of the games themselves. “The rest of the sports – from swimming to women’s soccer and volleyball – spend money in my hotel, but they go eat meals outside the hotel,” Van Buren said. “It’s something I think a lot of locals don’t think about – how much

www.BizTucson.com

money these teams spend. Everyone thinks it’s all football or basketball, and it’s really not.”

The direct spending by the athletic department impacts nearly every kind of local business.

– Laura Shaw, Senior VP, Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities

DeRaad said the Wildcats’ baseball national championship last year may have generated interest from teams for the Babe Ruth Pacific Southwest Regional youth baseball tournament that was held at the Kino Sports Complex in Tucson this summer. “To get a chance to visit where the national champions are located definitely increased the interest,” DeRaad

said. “In going after the event, we referenced that we’re the home of the NCAA champions, and the regional director was saying this was a great opportunity for their event.” And with an event like that come family, friends, fans and dollars. The Babe Ruth tournament attracted eight teams from California, Nevada, Utah, Hawaii and Guam along with two representatives from Tucson. “Team Guam was in town on Sunday and they started their games the next Saturday,” DeRaad said. “Would they have come anyway? I don’t know. But I can say that the University of Arizona’s national profile makes it much easier to attract high-level youth and amateur sports events to Tucson.” That’s a point that Wittner agrees with after delving so deeply into the issue. “I think athletics help to market the university and the city,” Wittner said. “It’s a rallying point that gives a sense of belonging to the students. On top of that, if there’s a direct economic benefit, which in this case I believe there is, that’s icing on the cake.”

Biz

Fall 2013 > > > BizTucson 169


BizSPORTS

Paying for Lowell-Stevens By Jay Gonzales

When the University of Arizona approved construction of the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility at Arizona Stadium, it was like buying a new house – a $72.3 million house. Headlines were made when two donors pledged a combined $23 million for the facility, which allowed the Athletics Department to go to the school’s administration and the Arizona Board of Regents to get approval for construction of the football team’s new home. But the financial reality is the UA is a long way from paying off the project which, like a standard home mortgage, will take 30 years under bonds that were issued to cover the difference between the amount that was contributed and the balance of the cost. “It’s the same thing as buying a house,” said John Perrin, senior associate director of athletics for business operations. “The actual payment is about $3.35 million a year for 30 years.” Of the $23 million pledged to the project by David and Edith Lowell and Jeff and Sharon Stevens, $16 million was used as a down payment on the debt and allowed the UA to issue the bonds. The UA was left with a balance of $56.7 million which it is paying through the bonds at an average interest rate of 4.2 percent. Perrin said the challenge is in managing the debt like the average homeowner manages a mortgage. Revenues must keep coming in to meet all the department’s obligations, including student-athlete expenses, salaries, debt and everything else that makes up the nearly $60 million annual budget. “I think we do a really good job of looking down the road to make sure we can always pay for our debt service,” said Perrin, who has been at the UA for 34 years and is working under his fourth director of athletics in Greg Byrne. 170 BizTucson

<<<

Fall 2013

“We’re very confident that the system we use, the way we go about our fundraising, allows us to take care of our debt service each year without putting additional burden on the university.” Handling the debt didn’t go quite as smoothly for the UA in the last major addition to Arizona Stadium, the press box and skyboxes built in the late 1980s. Skybox sales didn’t go as expected, but after a refinancing and with improved sales, the debt is well under control, Perrin said.

We’re very confident that the system we use, the way we go about our fundraising, allows us to take care of our debt service each year without putting additional burden on the university.

– John Perrin Senior Associate Director of Athletics for Business Operations University of Arizona

“At the time we built those, we were thinking we could sell (the skyboxes) for $25,000 a year,” Perrin recalled. “If we had done that, we could have covered the debt service. But we didn’t sell all of them. The revenue we’re generating off the boxes now certainly covers the debt service.” Perrin said there is $3.6 million that remains to pay off the cost with annu-

al payments of $263,000. The debt is scheduled to be paid off in 2030. When a project like Lowell-Stevens comes along, a couple of line items go on the UA budget – one for the debt and one for the funds to cover the debt, Perrin said. In the case of Lowell-Stevens, the $3.35 million annual payment is offset by the pledges that have come in and that are expected to keep coming in. To begin, there was $7 million in pledges remaining from the Lowells’ and Stevens’ donations. The project got another major gift when Louis “Buzz” Sands pledged $2 million in cash and another $8 million over time to the facility. Sands has his name on the indoor club that is accessible to fans who purchase club seats. Perrin said ongoing fundraising will have to support the bond payments. “What it means is our development folks have to raise that much money each and every year,” Perrin said. “When we built the Eddie Lynch Pavilion (at McKale Center), it wasn’t just the people whose names were on the building who gave money to that. We had several hundred donors contribute to that project.” And the department is about to start all over again as it embarks on an $80 million project to renovate 40-year-old McKale Center. “You have to have a list of facility priorities and the first one was doing the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility,” said Byrne, who is now UA VP for Athletics. “It was the most significant project for us since the opening of McKale in 1973. We successfully completed Lowell-Stevens and now we’re going to try to tackle McKale – which will be the second most significant project in the last 40 years – all in a very short time frame.”

Biz

www.BizTucson.com


www.BizTucson.com

Fall 2013 > > > BizTucson 171


Investing in the Wildcat Movement PHOTOS: COURTESY OF ARIZONA ATHLETICS

By Jay Gonzales

172 BizTucson

<<<

Fall 2013

www.BizTucson.com


BizSPORTS As a player on a national champion Arizona Wildcats softball team, Erika Hanson Barnes believed in Coach Mike Candrea’s approach – achieving a singular, all-encompassing goal like winning a national championship would bring with it other desired benefits, such as All-America honors for individuals. As a fundraiser now for the UA’s athletic department, Barnes said that same approach applies when it comes to bringing in the millions of dollars it takes to keep the Wildcats’ athletic program in the black, and to support projects like the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility and the planned renovation of McKale Center. “(Candrea) always used to say if we all have one common goal in mind – to win a national championship – the individual accolades are going to come,” said Barnes, senior associate athletics director for administration and major gifts. “I have the same approach with fundraising. If we are capturing (donor) interests, if we’re doing all the things to get to the goal of 12,000 Wildcat Club members, the major gifts will come.” And they did come when the UA needed to raise the funds to support the $72.3 million Arizona Stadium project. To get the project off the ground, the Development Office and Wildcat Club – the fundraising arm of Athletics – pulled in $23 million in cash from two donors, David and Edith Lowell, and Jeff and Sharon Stevens. It was a monumental task in tough economic times. And when it was done there was more work ahead in the ongoing Wildcat Movement – the effort to assemble 12,000 members of the Wildcat Club that Barnes and her fundraising teammates believe will lead them to the dollars they need to raise annually. To be a member of the Wildcat Club, a donor gives a minimum of $100 through any one of a number of avenues. Scott Shake, senior associate athletics director in the Development Office, said the Wildcat Movement is less about how much members give and more about how many give because once a donor begins giving, the likelihood that their donations will increase over time is high. “The key is to bring people in, get them started and connected and engaged,” said Shake, who is in his 24th www.BizTucson.com

year at the UA. “If you broaden your base, over time you build relationships and cultivate them, and a few years down the road they might become more successful in their careers and they might give more.” Make no mistake – giving in even the smallest amounts is critical to the revenues of the athletic department, not any different from ticket and merchandise sales. When revenue projections are put into the nearly $60 million annual budget, there is an amount that fundraisers must raise to pay the bills, Barnes said. For the 2012 fiscal year, they were responsible for raising $4.5 million in major gifts and another $10.1 million in annual giving. They hit both goals.

We’re affecting and changing the lives of studentathletes. You’re helping young people get their college degrees and change their lives.

– Scott Shake Senior Associate Director of Athletics University of Arizona

But it’s not as simple as getting to those numbers with every gift that comes to athletics. The fundraising number comes with some strings attached. When multi-million dollar gifts come in, like those that launched the stadium project or the $10 million that came later from another donor, Louis “Buzz” Sands, they don’t count toward the annual fundraising goal. They are considered “mega gifts” that are “extraordinary and inconsistent,” Shake said, and usually are earmarked for projects such as renovations. The $4.5 million that had to be raised in 2012 was made up of donations between $5,000 and $500,000. Everything under $5,000 fell into the $10.1 million annual-giving bucket, which is why fundraisers stress the notion that every dollar counts.

“That $10.1 million is a huge number,” Shake said. “That’s why those (smaller donations) matter.” And there’s nothing like success on the field or on the court to give fundraising a boost. “When we launched the Wildcat Movement the day after we beat Duke (in the 2011 NCAA Sweet 16), our numbers were some of the biggest numbers we’ve seen because it surrounded what I call a ‘big moment,’ ” said Phoebe Chalk Wadsworth, a Tucson native, UA alum and associate athletics director for major gifts. “We saw it after we won the College World Series.” Athletic success can result in alumni who are getting rich in professional sports, which can bring in dollars. But the fundraisers recognize that there’s generally a waiting period before ultrarich athletes make eye-popping donations like the one former UA basketball player Richard Jefferson made when he put up $3.5 million for the practice facility that bears his name. “Research shows that major-gift charitable giving correlates much more with age than it does with net worth,” Shake said, pointing out that the percentage of former athletes who give to the department is slightly more than the percentage of alumni who give to the university – 7 percent compared to 6 percent. “What Richard Jefferson did was a true anomaly,” he added. “It’s incredibly unusual at that age to do what he did. It’s unfair to expect other young people to do that. Most of your mega gifts happen when people are 60 years or older. That’s true around the country.” And, Shake points out, the Lowells are former UA athletes, as is Eddie Lynch, who gave millions to what is now the Eddie Lynch Pavilion at McKale Center. But beyond the wins and losses, the excitement at the stadium, the television exposure and the millions of dollars involved, the priority remains the student-athletes in the 20 varsity sports who benefit from the program. “One of the messages we’ve done a better job of communicating consistently is how we’re affecting and changing the lives of student-athletes,” Shake said. “You’re helping young people get their college degrees and change their lives.” Biz Fall 2013 > > > BizTucson 173


BizSPORTS

Next Up

Renovations to McKale and Beyond By Steve Rivera ties. And we’ve got the greatest softball coach (Mike Candrea) here at Arizona. We want to make sure he’s got the support behind him, where we’re back to contending for national championships.”

Every day you need to improve who you are.

– Greg Byrne VP for Athletics University of Arizona

Byrne said Arizona “wasn’t as aggressive as we needed to be” when it came to improving facilities, saying his department-wide facilities “wish list” has $300 million in improvements that he could justify if the money was available.

Byrne said he would like to improve the women’s soccer facility (Murphy Stadium), the track and tennis facilities, and facilities for men’s and women’s golf, among other sports. There’s the $80 million needed to remodel and upgrade McKale Center. And there is also about $56 million needed to pay off the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility, as well as other necessary improvements to the football stadium. What Byrne doesn’t want to happen – and it’s happened too often recently – is for student-athletes to continue to fly over Tucson to get somewhere else, Texas, Oklahoma and other destinations. Byrne said he wants the best athletes in the west to “put the anchor down here.” Key to getting the UA back to being one of the top 10 athletic programs in the nation are passionate fans who are willing to support the renovation and creation of top-notch facilities. “When it comes to facilities, I go to bed thinking about it and I wake up thinking about it,” Byrne said.

Biz

PHOTOS: COURTESY OF ARIZONA ATHLETICS

It’s not that the University of Arizona has an identity crisis. Far from it, in fact. The men’s basketball team continues to be one of the better programs under Coach Sean Miller. The Wildcats have been to the Elite Eight and Sweet 16 during Miller’s five years in Tucson. The UA men’s and women’s swim teams are among the top 10 in the nation as are the men’s and women’s track teams. Softball is still considered one of the elite programs. While Arizona Athletics has taken a significant step with the creation of the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility, other improvements are needed. And in the mind of UA VP for Athletics Greg Byrne, there is no room for complacency. “Every day you need to improve who you are,” Byrne said, pointing out that Hillenbrand Stadium, where the Wildcats play softball, was one of the best facilities in the nation when it was built 20 years ago “It’s not anymore,” Byrne said. “Our softball program has been strong through the years. It’s one of our identi-

174 BizTucson

<<<

Fall 2013

www.BizTucson.com


www.BizTucson.com

Fall 2013 > > > BizTucson 175


176 BizTucson

<<<

Fall 2013

www.BizTucson.com


www.BizTucson.com

Fall 2013 > > > BizTucson 177


178 BizTucson

<<<

Fall 2013

www.BizTucson.com


Fall 2013 football