Nov. 30, 2008
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.
The cost of many construction-type raw materials has dropped by huge
percentages. As an engineer in the manufacturing and construction
business, I am finding project costs have dropped around 15 to 20 percent due
to material decreases and construction companies no longer running a
backlog. Is SIU locked into commitments for the upcoming construction
projects or can you gather new quotes based on current costs?
We don't have any "commitments" for the new project. The first "phase" which includes the recreational play fields and tennis courts came back under budget, which was good news. Out of the 40 total bid packages that make up the football stadium, retrofitting of SIU Arena and the auxiliary building, we have put three out on the street and received them back, and they were all significantly under budget, which is very good news. We will be putting more bid packages out on the street in a few weeks, and we will hope that the trend continues.
What is the average attendance at SIU baseball home games? Is there a
consensus that improvements to Abe Martin Field would increase
attendance? Did building a state of the art facility for softball
increase its attendance?
Our average baseball attendance over the last three years has been 367 in 2006 (30 home dates), 433 in 2007 (30 home dates), and 270 in 2008 (21 home dates). Obviously, the weather plays a great part in this. I would be very confident that improvements to Abe Martin would increase attendance. The field, while aesthetically pleasing, could use some significant upgrades from a fan standpoint, especially in restrooms, concessions and bleacher seating. I spoke to our head softball coach Kerri Blaylock, and even though some of our old attendance records are spotty in the old stadium, she is positive that the new stadium has significantly increased attendance, as well as provided a huge shot in the arm for recruiting.
Recently, SIUE made the transition to Division I athletics and had one
of their first DI basketball games televised on Charter Communications
cable in the St. Louis area. Is there a chance we'll see more games on
WSIU (which Charter carries in my area) or on Charter?
Third tier men's basketball television broadcasting is an area that Saluki Sports Properties will oversee in the future for us. Through the Missouri Valley Conference, the ESPN family of networks reviews our schedule and has first choice. They selected six of our games. Then, the MVC offers our games to their league partner, Fox SportsNet, of which four games were selected. The remainder of the games are free for us to televise. Our philosophy has been that if our home games aren't sold out, we have not wanted to televise them, so our third tier consists mostly of away games. We have been in a multi-year contract with Mediacom, which is in its last year, and they will air seven games this year. Traditionally, WSIU has aired games and will continue to do so with one this year. After eliminating the home games, which aren't sold-out or close to selling out, there aren't many games not being televised.
In the off season, we will sit down with SSP and partner-up with whichever entity will be able to televise a maximum amount of our third-tier games at the best cost. We're also concerned with quality and expect to eliminate the distribution errors we have had throughout the past few years. After reviewing the choices we will make the selection.
I would love to have a pair of Saluki Basketball game shorts. Any
plans on making them available to fans?
When we get equipment from Nike, we just get the amount for the team. Our contracted merchandiser, 710 Bookstore, can get some merchandise, but many of the "official game gear" isn't available for purchase. Nike does offer some gear to purchase, but they have minimum orders of at least 144 pieces, and store general managers don't want to get stuck with items that have to be purchased up front. Your best bet is to see what is available at our games, and then check with 710 Bookstore to see what they have.
Did anyone from SIU speak with Walt Frazier during their time in New
York City for the 2K Sports Classic? Is SIU trying to get Walt and
his teammates from the 1967 NIT championship team to return to
Carbondale so they can be recognized? Will a Hall of Fame area be
added to the new main entrance of the renovated arena?
I spoke with Walt the week of the tournament, but he was out of the country when we were in New York. We had a great conversation about football, and he mentioned that he sees Brandon Jacobs at Madison Square Garden frequently. At the appropriate time, we will recognize the 1967 team again, and Walt did commit to coming back to Carbondale, possibly at the "grand opening" of the building, which would be special. At the present time, we have mulled several idea for the lobby of the new facility. A Hall of Fame seems like a logical choice for a portion of the area. The architect has several ideas to modernize the Hall of Fame area as opposed to just moving the photos that are in the student center over to the new building, and we are deciding on what would be the best approach.
I noticed that many of the teams that qualified for the FCS playoffs
played a 12-game regular-season schedule. Is a 12th regular-season
game a possibility for SIU in the years to come?
This is something we will consider. The next opportunities for FCS teams to play a 12-game schedule are 2013, 2014 and 2019. The biggest issue in this decision are finances. In order to have an FCS team come to Carbondale to play one game (a buy game), it would cost almost $100,000, and we aren't making that kind of money from a home game to justify this at the present time.
With the conflicts between high school playoffs and Saluki home games, have you considered the possibility of offering to piggy-back the HS game onto the Saluki game?
We have not done this to date and don't have much contact with the Illinois High School Athletic Association regarding playoff date and game times. Since this has come up over the last few years, we are going to ask the question, but I know they are working on very tight time frames, and we set our schedules well in advance, so I am not holding out too much hope. In addition, I spoke with our Assistant AD for Compliance, Christian Spears, and any University partnering up with specific high schools on game time issues and promotion of games would need to jump through many NCAA hurdles. Good question, and we will have the discussion of trying to avoid the same dates and times at all costs, but it might be inevitable that conflicts arise.
After the brown dog and gray dog costumes are replaced, how about retiring them by putting them on display in the lobby of the arena?
Well, that is a thought, but we were leaning to something a bit more along the lines of the Hall of Fame and pieces of Saluki sports history in the lobby. The costumes, if you look up close, are pretty worn, and I am not sure that this is what we would want displayed. Perhaps we could do something like this in front of the new Saluki Team Store to draw some attention to potential customers.
Have you named a management company for the first stage of the Saluki Way project? If so, who is it, and will this be the primary contact for the construction through the end of the project?
I believe you are referring to a construction manager and yes we have hired JE Dunn of Kansas City and Holland Construction out of Belleville, Ill. as our construction managers. They have been on the job for almost one year to date. These individuals will stay on for the entirety of the project to ensure to the best of their ability that it comes in on time and in budget.