Sept. 1, 2009
This is the latest installment of our monthly feature called, "Ask the AD." If you have questions for Saluki Director of Athletics Mario Moccia, feel free to submit them by e-mail.
As a former player, I would definitely be interested in purchasing items, which I would think would benefit SIU, versus throwing it in a garbage dump. For example, what happened to the old Omni Turf from McAndrew? If any of it was recycled elsewhere on campus or was saved, I would definitely be interested in making a donation to acquire some.
I consulted Associate AD for Facilities Jason King on the specific question of the Omni Turf, and he told me that when our current AstroPlay turf was installed nine years ago, it was stated in the contract that the contractor was to dispose of the old Omni Turf. That turf was on its last leg, and there is none of it left on campus that he is aware of. Every piece of equipment, including the turf on the football field, is bought with state money. We (Athletics) can't sell anything bought with state money, and it appears to be a ridged policy. There are parts of McAndrew Stadium and the SIU Arena that will be re-used in new and renovated areas to ensure the history of the facilities are maintained.
From looking at the sky cams of the stadium construction, is the new stadium at a bit different north/south alignment then McAndrew Stadium?
Adam Groth from 360 architecture informed me that the new football field was placed to align with the Saluki Way axis, which is slightly off direct North-South. The field at McAndrew Stadium runs true North-South. The new field is roughly 10 degrees off of this axis. I am glad you are keeping a good eye on the project, and the Saluki cam is sure a great way to keep tabs on the daily progress that is being made.
I enjoy watching with anticipation the construction of the new stadium and area renovations, however I can't help but notice that the stadium design includes a fair amount of exposed structural beams in the press box area and underneath the seating areas. Will these structural components be painted or otherwise covered, so that we won't someday be looking at rusted steel beams and stained concrete reminiscent of McAndrew Stadium?
We were painfully aware of the rust factor at McAndrew and insisted that this be avoided at all costs in the new stadium. Our architects from 360 architecture, Greg Green and John Eyler, have assured us that there will never be rust on the structure for the life span of the facility. The steel below the seating bowl will be galvanized and coated with a factory finish paint, and the steel under the press box will also be galvanized and will be field painted with a high performance paint to match the factory coating at the seating bowl.
Coach Cal is great. He is why our son is a Saluki, but the Saluki facilities are a tough sell. Are there any scheduled improvements to the baseball facilities?
I would love to tell you that we have some major additions to Abe Martin planned, but the reality is that virtually every dollar and man hour is going into the Saluki Way project. In my tenure, we have installed new windows to the press box, put in a new infield and warning track and turned the old weight room into a players lounge. I know the coaching staff is doing the best job they can with less than top notch facilities. I would also bring attention to the fact that the field itself, the setting of Abe Martin and the atmosphere on the hill on a nice spring day, makes it a pretty special place with a good home advantage for the Salukis. Both Coach Cal and I will keep doing what we can to improve the facilities.
Is it possible to get a different opponent to open the new stadium in 2010? I understand that football schedules are made years in advance, but is it too late to find a more attractive opponent?
It would be possible, but I don't like to get in the habit of breaking an agreement that has been made, if at all possible. With the game on Labor Day weekend, I think we need to schedule the new stadium opener on a Thursday to ensure the students will be here and be a part of history, since they assisted the most in the funding process. Thursday FCS opponents are hard to find. As I have discussed before, Coach Kill had a philosophy of opening the season with a team from a lower level, while Coach Lennon doesn't share that philosophy. In addition, the playoff selection process is beginning to frown on these games, so next year will be the last year we will schedule an NAIA or Division II school. Coach Lennon would also remind all of us to take no opponent lightly, as Quincy College just beat a school from the MVFC in Indiana State.
Are there future plans for an indoor practice facility?
Currently, we are in a multi-year contract with the SportsBlast in Carbondale, which services men's and women's golf, baseball, softball, men's and women's tennis and some other sports. We have discussed other scenarios, be it on campus, off campus, the funding structure, etc... The bottom line, and not to sound like a broken record, but more or less every ancillary dollar and man hour is going to the funding of Saluki Way. An indoor facility would be a much needed item (even though the SportsBlast is serving our needs well) that we could call our own, but at the present time, it will have to remain on our wish list.
Do you have actual models of the new facilities to show recruits when they come in, or just the photos and videos that the fans have seen?
At the outset of the project, I asked for a model and found that this really isn't a standard thing that architects put together anymore. I kind of had the idea of Mike Brady working on a model to show his client, but they told me I was dating myself with that reference. When we have recruits, we show the videos and all the new images that we have received, and even have them blown up on poster board and placed around the room, which makes for a great presentation. Finally, we get them into hard hats and walk them out to the job site and show them where their locker would be in the locker room and where the 50-yard line is in the new stadium. That is about the most powerful "presentation" as far as the prospective student-athletes are concerned.
Will the SIU sign on Route 51 near the new football stadium be updated and/or renovated upon completion of the new stadium and arena renovation? It looks kind of worn down with the missing panels, etc., and I think would look out of place next to a nice new stadium and arena entrance.
This topic is being discussed by many University entities at the present time. The original sign was paid for from multiple constituents, and Chancellor Goldman has asked us to look at some possible units that would be an improvement over the current model. I anticipate a meeting at some point in September, where a decision will be made.
Do you know if SIU has any plans to put together a package for fans who want to attend the MBB Las Vegas Tournament this December?
Bret Seymour from Sport Tours International and the promoter of the tournament sent us the following information for fans interested in attending the games at our Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic. The hotel has a special rate for those attending the games. All Saluki fans need to do is click on the South Point logo on the Tournament Webpage. Then that takes them directly to the hotel website reservations page.
We will play San Diego on Sat., Dec. 19 and San Francisco on Sun., Dec. 20. Both games will be held at the South Point Arena at 4:15 p.m.
Can the rules be relaxed in terms of allowing the beginning of set up for a tailgate prior to three hours?
This is one area I do not control and have not been successful in lobbying for changes. I agree there is a need to expand the tailgating hours. I will keep fighting for this, as the fans who pay their hard-earned money and travel a great distance, in my opinion, deserve it. Hope to see you at some games this year.