Oct. 30, 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.
When Saluki Way is completed, how will you handle the need for additional parking?
With a slight reduction in seats in the renovated arena and the new stadium, we did not feel the need to increase parking . The new football stadium will take advantage of the lots south of the arena, and parking will still be available in the lot by Lingle Hall, the old stadium and the parking garage by Anthony Hall. In basketball, we anticipate more usage of the lots on the west side of the arena, since there will be a new and upgraded entrance on that side of the facility. We are discussing with campus police how to better improve ingress and egress, and perhaps we could widen traffic lanes and add more arteries to US 51.
Will the marching band and the football team continue to march through the tailgate next season, as they have in previous years?
Yes, we will continue to have the "SalukiWalk" on game day. If you go to www.salukiwayproject.com and click on the football video, you will see the path they will take at the end of the video segment. This is an important part of game day that we felt was important to keep. In addition, I would like to place King Tut's pyramid marker somewhere on the path, so the players can touch it on the way into the stadium to add some extra gameday flavor and tradition.
I am a freshman at SIU from Minnesota. Could you talk to the AD at Minnesota about scheduling a basketball game against the Gophers? My friends go to Minnesota, and we always talk trash about the other school. I think it's cool that you have an "Ask the AD."
I could talk to Joel Maturi, their director of athletics, as he is a very good guy, but I don't believe he would be interested in a home-and-home series with the Salukis. Most BCS teams want teams from the MVC to travel one time to their place for a payout. That type of game doesn't help our program much, and we feel we can make the NCAA Tournament without those games. We have relied on non-conference exempt tournaments to play BCS teams. In fact, in November of 2006, we played Minnesota in Orlando, Fla., during an ESPN tournament and won, 69-53.
Why is the opening of the new stadium on a Thursday night? Won't that hurt attendance?
The contract for this game was signed a few years ago and prior to the realization of Saluki Way. Our concern with playing on Labor Day weekend it that the vast majority of students would leave and miss the game. We are playing on a Thursday night, so they can attend. With a large share of the funding for Saluki Way coming from students, it is of critical importance that as many students can attend this historic event as possible. Traditionally, games are to be played on Saturday, but I believe for this one event, people will make an extra effort to attend, so they can say they were in the first football game of the new stadium. I am hoping, and quite frankly expecting, a sold-out stadium.
Are there plans to add more restrooms than are currently available at SIU Arena? Will there be TVs or radio piped in to keep the fans updated? What about a family restroom, like they have at Rent One Park in Marion?
The number of women's toilets will be significantly increased, while the men's restrooms will remain close to current levels. We will also add family restrooms with baby-changing stations. There will be speakers in the bathrooms with the radio feed piped in, so you can hear all the action.
What will be the new seating capacity of the SIU Arena once the renovations are completed?
The new seating capacity for the renovated arena is going to be 8,600. Currently, the arena seating manifest says the total amount of seats in SIU Arena is 9,409, but many of those seats have not been used for years. Many are eliminated in order to create aisles in all the upper level bleachers, the creation of the new press row, and the addition of the "Big Dawg" seats that offer a bit more room than the traditional bleacher seats. Since we scan each ticket upon entrance and know the exact amount of patrons in the building for each game, we have identified that 8,642 was the largest crowd we have had in the arena since the 2005-06 season when we played Indiana University on December 1, 2007.
Do the folks in Little Egypt realize the fantastic deal they're getting to watch Saluki Football? I have season tickets for the Oregon Ducks. Great entertainment, but it costs about as much for one Ducks' game as it does for season tickets at SIU.
We try to be sensitive in our pricing, but I do appreciate your realization that we do offer a great product for the price. We have tried to add value to the game with the creation of Saluki Row, theme days, band performances, Brown and Grey Dog, the live Saluki mascots, cheerleaders and shakers, and the pre-game Saluki Walk. On top of that, the Salukis have been perennially in the top 20 in the nation during the last six years, so I do believe you are correct in your assessment that our prices are a good bargain. We will remain sensitive to the economy and offer discounts whenever appropriate.
At Homecoming, we were confused when it came to locating a spot to grill and socialize with other alums. Could you post directions to designated tailgate locations, specifically for out-of-town visitors?
That is a very good suggestion, and I am going to ask our staff to look at posting the map of Saluki Row tents on our website before big games, so our fans can use them as a guide on game day.
Mario, I have three questions, all related to the arena renovation. First, will the new seats on the sides and ends extend closer to the playing floor than they previously were? Second, where will the press be located? Lastly, will the seats in sections 103, 107, 111,115 be adjusted so that they face the playing floor as opposed to facing straight ahead? Thanks.
I consulted with lead architect John Eyler from 360 Architecture on your questions, and he responded the following back to me. The courtside and baseline seats will remain the same distance to the floor. They will be better quality seats in the form of chairbacks on the courtside seats and wider baseline seats with much more leg room and with better sightlines. We will still need room for fan circulation, and we must follow the Americans with Disabilities Act code, and provide room for staff at the Scorer's table. The press will be located at the concourse level on the northeast corner. The press counter where they will sit is attached to the existing cast-in-place wall. The seats in sections 103, 107, 111,115 will not be adjusted to face the playing floor and will continue to face straight ahead. The architects reviewed that option very early in the process and determined that it was prohibitively expensive in relation to our budget, impacted the final schedule, and actually resulted in fewer seats.