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Q&A with AD Mike Thomas

Cincinnati Director of Athletics Mike Thomas was kind enough to take time to answer some of the most talked about questions in Bearcat fans minds. Here is our unedited Q&A Mike Thomas

BCL Can you talk about why the basketball budget has decreased from $5,528,040.00 in 2007 to $3,754,077.00 in 2009?

Mike Thomas The budget wasn’t reduced. The 2007 figure is a bit misleading for a pair of reasons. The first is there was a change in accounting procedures between the 2007 and 2008 reports that moved the game operations piece – how we pay ushers, officials, event costs, etc. –out of all of the program budgets and into a separate events operations budget. Having those dollars placed there wasn’t truly reflective of what resources a coach has available to manage their program. The other piece that inflates the 2007 number is the one-time charges for the changeover of the coaching staff. Together, those two were the difference in 2007’s $5.5 million figure and the approximately $3.75 million which is more in line with what the program operates on now. And that is increased from $3.3 million in 2006.

BCL Six months after you were hired as Director of Athletics at Cincinnati you announced the Catapult plan. The gist of the plan is you wanted each sport to win a Big East championship in 5 years, improve community relations and improve the academic performance of each sport. Can you update us on the progress this plan has made since it was implemented?

Mike Thomas CATapult (Championships/Academics/Together) is our strategic plan and it has served us well through the last five years. Since January we have been undertaking a strategic review and will soon be announcing the next generation of CATapult. The goals we laid out in CATapult will be evaluated and new directives laid out for the next five years.

Championships: You always want to set the bar high when you form goals in your strategic plan, and we knew the challenge of winning Big East championships would be a stretch goal. We’ve won five Big East team championships over that time span, including two in football. Several sports are experiencing new success and the groundwork is being laid in recruiting and coaching for more Big East championships to follow. In other words, while we’re not there yet, we are on the road and making real progress. Expecting and achieving top-level performance in our conference will remain a goal for us.

We have a lot of work ahead of us as we strive to accomplish the goals we set for ourselves in CATapult and we are energized by the challenge. There is no doubt the competitive trials before us have changed dramatically as we entered the Big East, but I believe our coaches and student-athletes gratefully accept those challenges every day because we all want to compete at the very highest level. We’ll continue to provide the best resources we possibly can for our student-athletes and coaches to win their respective conference championships.

Academics: Academic performance among our programs has been a key success within CATapult. When our plan was developed, we were still in the early days of APR, thus the goal in academic performance was to meet the demands of APR. I believe we achieved that remarkably well. Average APR scores have increased since my arrival from 945 to 968. Five years ago we were lagging the student body as a whole in terms of grade point average. Since 2007, UC student-athletes have achieved GPA scores of 3.0 or higher, and graduation rates outpace UC’s general population by 10%. We consistently have UC student athletes win the individual Big East Academic Excellence Award for their respective sports, a very prestigious honor.

Together: I don’t think you’ll find a single intercollegiate program that doesn’t say community relations are important, and that is the “Together” part of CATapult. I am very proud of our student-athletes’ success in this area. Just last year, our student-athletes performed over 5,500 hours of service in the community. This is an increase from about 1,000 annual hours since 2005. Our coaches and staff make countless appearances in the Cincinnati area as well as state-wide. I know we make strides in the community with every event and we’ll continue to work toward getting even better. In addition, we have been dedicated to assimilating athletics into our own campus community and we have been successful in this area.

BCL FOLLOW UP– Talk about what the initial plan was to fund such an ambitious plan and what changes you have had to make to this funding plan during the last 5 years.

Mike Thomas The funding for the initial plan was based upon the corresponding revenue goals we predicted at the time. Any strategic plan has to be a living document - malleable and able to adjust to inevitable changes from the forecast. The athletic department also inherited an over $7 million annual deficit that we were charged with erasing. We are close to having that completely eradicated now, but there is no doubt it presented additional challenges to the funding of the department as we headed into the Big East. We continue to pay off the capital project debt from the building of Varsity Village, and that is included in our annual operating budget.

The move to the Big East Conference increases conference-generated revenues. Our sponsorship and giving numbers have jumped as well: we have raised over $65 million in the last five years between the annual fund, capital projects, and our endowment, and we increased our annual corporate sponsorship deal from $1 million annual revenue in 2006 to $2.5 million. We also raised more funds last year than any other unit on campus. We are proud to have achieved this in a tough economic environment. UCATS also operates on a 6% cost of fundraising, meaning it costs us six cents for every dollar we raise. The Big East average is 17 to 18%, with the high in the 22 to 23% range, so we are raising more money with less resources and in a highly efficient manner.

We have successfully established separate fundraising entities for many of our teams.
We also introduced several innovative means of increasing our revenues, just two of which include the creation of the Director’s Society for donors giving more than $50,000 a year, and the Bearcat Fan Advantage, a new program we are just now launching. This is a program that is successfully modeled around the country, and we feel confident it will be of great benefit for us at UC as well. You will hear more about this program in the very near future.

But let there be no doubt: hiring good coaches who win on the field in football and basketball is what makes donors and corporations get on board, and it doesn’t happen overnight. I always kind of laugh when people often say I am patient, because in many ways I am the most impatient person I know. I usually have an ongoing sense of urgency in my gut, so I understand when people want things done yesterday. But it all flows from hiring the right coaches who can win and do it the right way. And that just takes time to build.

BCL Football revenue has increased from $4,856,257.00 in 2005 to $13,325,304.00 you must be very proud of the growth of the football program both on the field and from a revenue perspective. However, Cincinnati ranks dead last in the Big East in football revenues. What is your plan to continue the path of growing the money brought in by the football program so the program can continue to compete at the top of the Big East conference?

Mike Thomas I think most people already realize that with our limited seating and lack of premium amenities at Nippert Stadium that revenue is then also restricted accordingly. As most of you know, next fall we are playing two home games at Paul Brown Stadium. Our coaches and student-athletes really loved playing Oklahoma there last year, and our fans and students almost overwhelmingly reported a great experience - from easy access and parking to concession and restroom amenities, from convenient and expansive tailgating to more leg room in the seats. We netted a significant gain from that one game at PBS. As we go through this next football season we will be looking closely at the two upcoming games at PBS, and at that point we anticipate more will be revealed in terms of successes and concerns with that venue. And after we have looked at the results, we will determine the next steps to ensure our ability to grow revenue from football.

BCL What is status of Nippert renovations and funding such a project?

Mike Thomas The study we completed on Nippert Stadium renovations delivered a daunting figure. It told us that due to the buildings situated around Nippert, we could only add about10,000 seats to the current configuration and the cost would be upwards of $100 million dollars. That’s a pretty big backdrop figure for that few additional seats, even including new income from suites. Bottom line is it doesn’t appear the return on investment would warrant a project of that magnitude. And even if it happened, it wouldn’t solve the problem of Nippert still being one of the smallest stadiums in the Big East. We’ll continue to explore options to improve Nippert Stadium, but with the data we currently have I don’t believe a major renovation is imminent.

BCL There was a study that was completed about a year ago to renovate 5th/3rd Arena. What were the results of that study? What is estimated cost of such a project? Would this project be tied into future expansion of Nippert? What is plan to fund this project?

Mike Thomas First, you can’t discuss Nippert without including Fifth Third – they have to be looked at together, because if you don’t have the capacity to do both you will have decisions to make. Second, you have to have good research and data before making those decisions and definitely before going to donors and the corporate community and asking for their investment. The university is embarking on the next phase of its master plan, and the initial studies of both of these facilities will be part of that review.

Besides the study of Nippert Stadium, we also ordered the mentioned separate study of Fifth Third Arena that revealed the upside and the challenges of its potential renovation. The study provided three different concepts, with very approximate cost estimates ranging from $15 million to $75 million. It was a broad and general study, but it did direct us to initiate a more detailed analysis.

Be assured Fifth Third Arena is being analyzed very attentively and options being explored within the context of the university’s master plan. Over the past several months I have been meeting with the appropriate university personnel to discuss the future of our basketball facilities, filling them in on our current situation and what we need for continued success in the future. Please rest assured our prospective needs are acknowledged and on the radar.

It is important to make facility decisions based on facts and not just hopes. In my 25 years of athletic administration I have been involved in the planning, fundraising, direction and completion of several major projects at four different universities. Across the country I have seen buildings done right and I have seen some where the university wishes they could take a mulligan. Well, mulligans are very expensive and I will do everything in my power to avoid that situation. I can tell you that while these things take time, we are committed to doing things the right way, with the right plan, to ensure prudent and financially sound decisions.

BCL What is the latest on the coach Cronin’s contract extension? Do you have timetable in mind to get this completed?

Mike Thomas While it is impossible to give a definite date, I think we are very likely to have this done quite soon. We’re working together with Coach Cronin’s representative and I believe the process has been open and positive. We all want the same things and are working to find ways to meet everyone’s needs.

BCL Talk about the job coach Cronin has done since taking over the program 5 years ago. Are you happy with the progress? Do you feel all the heat he has taken from the fan base during the rebuilding project was warranted?

Mike Thomas First of all, of course I am very pleased with the progress that has been made. We won more games each year and finally made it back to the NCAA tournament, which was always a goal for that program.

Regarding the heat Mick took, we all know that our fans have high expectations and neither Mick nor I would have it any other way. However, sometimes with those high expectations come passionate reactions that don’t completely reflect the reality of the situation. I think in the beginning Mick ran into a landslide. Now, he walked into it knowingly (actually, he willingly ran full steam into it) and he welcomed the challenge, but that doesn’t take away from what he actually had to go through to get us to where we are today.

The men’s basketball program prior to Mick’s arrival was highly successful, and that alone lent itself to greater impatience and wanting to get back to the familiar sooner rather than later. We have fervent fans who are knowledgeable about the sport of basketball. Our fans’ feelings at the time are completely understandable. Dry spells are tough for fans that are used to winning, and it was understandably hard for many of our fans to transition from Coach Huggins to Coach Kennedy and then to Coach Cronin. When I consider what Mick has accomplished over the past five years, realizing the incredible challenges that were before him when he took on this position, I believe he has done a tremendous job. I respect Mick greatly for his fortitude under very difficult circumstances.

BCL Many fans feel detached from what is going on at UC. They don’t see a plan of action in place and are concerned that moving to the Big East was not the right move. Talk about some of the things you have done and are planning to do to better communicate to the fan base what the plans are to move UC athletics forward?

Mike Thomas First let me address the conference issue. There is no doubt that moving to the Big East Conference was and still is an incredible challenge. But I am convinced it was the right move. The majority of comments I hear about joining the conference have been overwhelmingly favorable. Our fans have already experienced two BCS bowl games, and a return to the NCAA tournament in men’s basketball playing in the most exciting conference in the country. Fans of many other universities, including several other BCS programs, wish they had our recent success, and it’s only been made possible as members of the Big East Conference. We also initiated an all-university 20-person athletics task force to study our situation regarding how we compare in the Big East Conference in terms of benchmarking and what resources are needed to compete at a fair level.

Regarding communication, we are currently in the midst of an audit looking at how we communicate with our supporters and various constituents and what we can do better. We realize we need to provide better access to myself, my staff, and our coaches.

I always hope our fans know how much I appreciate them, and I am open to developing more avenues for better communication. Several of the issues about which I recently received emails were actually things we have already been addressing and spending time on in the past few months, so in many areas we have actually been operating on the same page.

I do strongly encourage our fans to read my regular letter from our website, www.gobearcats.com. I try to cover what’s new in our department or provide information responding to trends in the emails I receive. If there’s something someone would like me to address there, I would very much encourage them to email me at BearcatAD@uc.edu.

Also, we really have an open and accessible staff in our athletic department. If you think something pertains to their area, please email them directly (addresses are in the staff directory on the website). If it is something that should come under my purview, they’ll be sure to get it to me, as well. Or you can just send it to me and I will make sure it gets to them. Either way, please continue to send us your feedback and suggestions!

Pertaining to a plan of action, we are strongly dedicated to the goals of CATapult; great strides have already been made and the future is extremely promising for continued success in those three areas. And as I said earlier, we have been actively working on the second generation of that plan. We are excited about it. Expect to see something finalized on that prior to the next academic year.

BCL How has the Proudly Cincinnati campaign impacted your ability to go out and get the funds necessary to get private donations for the athletic department as a whole.

Mike Thomas Proudly Cincinnati has many exciting and worthy goals. We strongly support Proudly Cincinnati and will do everything we are asked to ensure its success. We enjoy a great relationship with the UC central development office and work hand-in-hand with them to raise monies to ensure the University of Cincinnati grows and becomes a better place every day.

I want to personally thank Cincinnati Director of Athletics Mike Thomas for taking the time to answer each question in great detail.

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  • First of all, It was good of Mike Thomas to do the interview.

    I do have a comment about the PBS statement. "Our coaches and student-athletes really loved playing Oklahoma there (PBS) last year, and our fans and students almost overwhelmingly reported a great experience."

    "overwhelming" really? How did these fans and students go about reporting this great experience? I know plenty of fans that did the opposite.

    I've spoken to enough head coaches to know that ABSOLUTELY none of them ever wants to give up his home field advantage for a league game especially when their job hinges on getting wins.

    I've talked to a number of Bearcat football players asking about their thoughts of playing at PBS instead of Nippert Stadium, and the "overwhelming" response is that it was fun playing at PBS last year but "nothing compares to running out of the tunnel at the Nipp." Some players are not even aware that they are playing two of their six home games at PBS next year.

    I'd prefer statements like "we talked to a few people and they seemed to like playing at PBS" or "we need the money and that's a chance to get more of it."

    I understand the move but obviously don't like it and certainly don't buy some of this administration-speak.

    This post was edited by Tim Adams 3 years ago

  • Thanks Todd and good interview. Many answers were vague even if detailed but I think that is smart on his part. Until you know, don't let yourself be trapped in a box. Not much was mentioned about his specific plans for fundraising. Obviously that is a problem. I do think that his comments certainly help clarify the facility situation. It seems obvious that expansion of Nippert is stupid. You would still need to play big games at PBS because revenue would be lost at a net increase of 10000 to Nippert. As for some who want to say his comments were opinions, I would be interested in the survey results as to numbers who liked PBS. That info is available and should be published if it supports his statements and I have no reason to think it does not. It leads to the second part namely 5/3 arena. While we may be looking at upgrades for a better practice gym, player areas, etc, it is interesting that the largest number of 75 million is less than the 100000 million for Nippert. Hence, it seems to me that it would be in the best interests of UC to leave Nippert alone and tackle the basketball arena big-time. I am sure that Mick and most around him would be a little more patient about a few of the short term fixes if they knew that in 2 or 3 years we would have either a new or markedly improved on campus bb facility. If this plan is adopted, then I would hope the athletic dept. would put the funding toward planes, coaching salaries, and promotion rather the a short term band-aid on practice facility that won't be used for long. Obviously that would change some if the practice gym was to be built or remain the mainstay even in the new building plan. It is said that the devil is in the details and we need to see some details.
    Again, I think you got all the info you could get and all MT is going to give at this point. Thanks

  • I should add one other fact. The ONLY reason UCATS membership is up is because football has been winning. The winning allowed the admin is attach a UCATS fee to season tickets, and the ONLY reason there is a Sheakley Athletics Center is because football has won otherwise that would have never been built.

    By moving home league games to PBS, it will hurt the chances of that winning continuing. However, since that is the plan, I'd love to hear the admin's plan on how to get at least 50,000 UC fans in PBS for those two league games making it more of a home field advantage for Coach Jones and his guys.

  • I have always been impressed with Mike Thomas. He is not a charismatic AD like Jurick at Louisville, but he is hardworking, steady, and gets things done. He inherited a budget nightmare when he became AD and UC athletics is close to breaking even or modestly profitable. The only hire he has missed on was the women's coach -- his name eludes me -- but he quickly corrected it. UC's has some things to sort out with Nippert and 5/3rd arena. As much as I like Nippert, it will not generate the kind of income required to sustain a D-1 athletic program in the Big East. Either a new stadium needs to be built or we need to embrace Paul Brown Staidum. 5/3rd arena will have to either gutted/renovated or replaced with a new arena. Does anyone have 250 million dollars to build a new stadium and basketball arena? Lots of challenges out there, but UC athletes is much healthier due to MT.

    This post was edited by Wacobearcat 3 years ago

  • Tim Adams said... (original post)

    First of all, It was good of Mike Thomas to do the interview.

    I do have a comment about the PBS statement. "Our coaches and student-athletes really loved playing Oklahoma there (PBS) last year, and our fans and students almost overwhelmingly reported a great experience."

    "overwhelming" really? How did these fans and students go about reporting this great experience? I know plenty of fans that did the opposite.

    I've spoken to enough head coaches to know that ABSOLUTELY none of them ever wants to give up his home field advantage for a league game especially when their job hinges on getting wins.

    I've talked to a number of Bearcat football players asking about their thoughts of playing at PBS instead of Nippert Stadium, and the "overwhelming" response is that it was fun playing at PBS last year but "nothing compares to running out of the tunnel at the Nipp." Some players are not even aware that they are playing two of their six home games at PBS next year.

    I'd prefer statements like "we talked to a few people and they seemed to like playing at PBS" or "we need the money and that's a chance to get more of it."

    I understand the move but obviously don't like it and certainly don't buy some of this administration-speak.

    Great post Tim (upvote was from me). I was going to comment that the people MT talked to about the PBS experience must have been a lot different from the ones who have been making comments on this and other boards.

    Other than the PBS answer, I was happy with most of his responses.

  • I understand the issue with expanding Nippert. I also hate the idea of Mike Brown benefiting in any way from my support of UC. I love the BEARCATS and would not ever consider not supporting them. I despise the idea of supporting the Bengals organization as long as that man owns them. Nippert is a special place when the team is doing well and it saddens me to think they have given up on this idea.

  • Tim Adams said... (original post)

    I should add one other fact. The ONLY reason UCATS membership is up is because football has been winning. The winning allowed the admin is attach a UCATS fee to season tickets, and the ONLY reason there is a Sheakley Athletics Center is because football has won otherwise that would have never been built.

    By moving home league games to PBS, it will hurt the chances of that winning continuing. However, since that is the plan, I'd love to hear the admin's plan on how to get at least 50,000 UC fans in PBS for those two league games making it more of a home field advantage for Coach Jones and his guys.

    They did play much better at PBS last year than they did at Nippert. They also played really well at PBS when they played OSU.

  • BearcatJournal

    Carey Hoffman

    Thanks for posting that, Todd.

    I thought that MT came across as a leader who had a firm grasp on most of the issues that have been raised in the last week.

    His documenting the fact that they inherited a $7 million annual budget deficit and have been tasked with bringing that under control squares with what I thought their situation was. When UC went into the Big East, the athletic budget was about $21 million annually. Now it is in the $40 million range. Against either figure, a $7 million chunk is not small potatoes.

    The other point that stood out is how much they operate not independently, but as part of the university as a whole. Factors like the Foundation and those who are in charge of campus master planning means that he doesn't always have as much of a free hand as those on the outside might perceive on issues like fund-raising and facilities planning.

    It will be interesting to see what the 20-person university-wide advisory panel recommends in regards to bringing UC up to an overall standard reflective of competing in the Big East. When an AD goes outside his department with an effort like this, it is an attempt to increase awareness and buy-in across the campus of what the challenges -- and potential rewards -- are for UC athletics. They need to build that support to continue to progress, or risk a faculty backlash (which will come from some folks, regardless) that athletics is just a rogue operation not really in touch with the overall priorities of the university.

  • How is renovating nippert $100 mil., when only adding 10,000 seats? I know there are countless things I know nothing about but that seems like a huge number.

  • I am satisfied with MT's responses. Not everyone can be an insider and know what could be disputed. The decision on Nippert, just based on face value, seems sound. It is indeed locked-in. If not PBS, then there will need to be a new stadium somewhere else. If the program is winning, people will go to PBS. I suspect you may see a football venue like we will see next year. Early games against less-than-big name opponents at Nippert and big games (WVU, Pitt, etc.) at PBS. Therefore, it would seem 5/3rd gets the more immediate attention at some level and Nippert gets "tweeked".

  • I think it would probably run over 100 mil. It is very complex and involves removing the decks on both sides. If we could double capacity (and fill that) it might be worth it. As it is, adding 35,000 wouldn't cost much more than adding 10,000 (relatively), but there's no room for that.

  • For those who want to stay at Nippert, the question is where does the additional revenue come from to sustain the athletic department? Adding 10,000 seats at a cost of 100,000 million dollars does not make a whole lot of fiscal sense.

    It looks like there are four options. (1 ) Do nothing and keep Nippert at 35,000 (2) expand Nippert by 10,000 seats at a cost of $100,000,000; (3) build a new stadium with a price tag of $200,000,000 or more, or (4) move to PBS. I've watched UC football at Nippert since the 1960's so I understand the history and tradition of UC football. Nippert is a special place. But sometimes old traditions need to be replaced by new traditions. I'm very conflicted about option 4, but its the most cost/beneficial, and will let UC focus on the basketball arena issue more proactively.

  • IMO MT basically said that if money is to be spent, it will be spent on 5th 3rd, even at the expense of altering Nippert, because you can only do one or the other and Nippert isn't doable, physically or fiscally.
    Long term , get ready for FB at PBS and an upgraded/rebuilt BB facility on campus. I sense the Pitt conversion model is underway.

    If we can get 50-60K to create a rabid home-field advantage at PBS, get students to and from games in huge numbers, guarantee an attractive home OOC schedule every year, solve seat transference
    ( from Nippert ) issues, get our logo splashed on the field, reduce club level prices and put people in the seats, then I'm ok with it. I want UC to prosper. Period.

  • BearcatJournal

    Carey Hoffman

    The Heights said... (original post)

    I think it would probably run over 100 mil. It is very complex and involves removing the decks on both sides. If we could double capacity (and fill that) it might be worth it. As it is, adding 35,000 wouldn't cost much more than adding 10,000 (relatively), but there's no room for that.

    How complex is Nippert? No one can be sure.

    When they did the first upgrade in 1989-90 that involved modernizing the stadium, putting in the press box, building concessions, etc., they were unpleasantly surprised at one point by having sewage suddenly start draining out into the steam tunnels that run along the south end of the stadium by CCM.

    As old-timers will remember, the bathrooms on the TUC side of the stadium used to be in the catacombs under the bleachers, and you would walk down stairs to get there. The footprint of the stadium is so old and has been in use for so long that no one can be absolutely sure what the situation is down there. That, to me, makes the idea of building additional large decks above the current structure easier to envision than to actually execute.

  • When looking at the facility issue it is now perfectly clear that UC will get the most bang for their buck by upgrading 5th/3rd or build a new arena. Doing anything to Nippert does not make sense financially.

    This post was edited by Todd Cunningham 3 years ago

  • "Proudly Cincinnati has many exciting and worthy goals. We strongly support Proudly Cincinnati and will do everything we are asked to ensure its success. We enjoy a great relationship with the UC central development office and work hand-in-hand with them to raise monies to ensure the University of Cincinnati grows and becomes a better place every day. "

    This response couldn't be any more canned.

    You better rep that "C" and you better rep it good!

  • Adding 10,000 seats doesn't necessarily add 10,000 more butts to put in them. When season seats are sold out at more premium price level, I will start buying into the need for expanded seating.

    You better rep that "C" and you better rep it good!

  • BearcatJournal

    Carey Hoffman

    "Proudly Cincinnati has many exciting and worthy goals. We strongly support Proudly Cincinnati and will do everything we are asked to ensure its success. We enjoy a great relationship with the UC central development office and work hand-in-hand with them to raise monies to ensure the University of Cincinnati grows and becomes a better place every day. "

    This response couldn't be any more canned.

    You read that, and I have to assume this Q&A was done electronically and not in person.

    No one, not even a by-the-book type AD like MT, speaks like that.

  • Hard to argue the numbers I guess, but I don't see how following the Pitt model is a good thing. I've been to games there and it wasn't much of an atmosphere. What have they accomplished in football? The Bengals have shown no interest in making seating, field logos or anything else better for UC fans. I was thrilled to see that basketball team do well this year and agree that 5/3 needs work. I don't think football should necessarily take a back seat. I have yet to see basketball yield half of the fan support that football did when it was doing well. College football has more potential for revenue as a whole.

  • Todd Cunningham said... (original post)

    When looking at the facility issue it is now perfectly clear that UC will get the most bang for their buck by upgrading 5th/3rd or build a new arena. Doing anything to Nippert does not make sense financially.

    I do not like this fact. Many of us don't. But disliking it will not change it. I think that MT said exactly what President Williams said last December - a major renovation of Nippert is not cost effective and we are not going to do it.

    Given that, let's go forward with renovating 5/3 as soon as we can. As for football, time for Plan B, whether that's moving to PBS for all games, some games, or no games.

    signature image

    GO BEARCATS!! FIGHT!!! FIGHT!!!! FIGHT!!!!!

  • perdrim said... (original post)

    Hard to argue the numbers I guess, but I don't see how following the Pitt model is a good thing. I've been to games there and it wasn't much of an atmosphere. What have they accomplished in football? The Bengals have shown no interest in making seating, field logos or anything else better for UC fans. I was thrilled to see that basketball team do well this year and agree that 5/3 needs work. I don't think football should necessarily take a back seat. I have yet to see basketball yield half of the fan support that football did when it was doing well. College football has more potential for revenue as a whole.

    With your last line you made mine and everyone else's who wants to move games to PBS point, thank you.

    Revenue Opportunities at Nippert are virtually 100% tapped out. With zero or close to zero premium seating the only way to increase guaranteed revenue is to have every seat be a season ticket holder seat. Im not sure thats really possible (of course considering seats reserved for opponents and etc...)

    With no additional ways to increase revenue eventually the amount of money UC football can make will be capped, at some point if they have winning seasons they just wont be able to increase $$$ from year to year.

    IMO the 2 biggest issues facing UC athletics are money and land, neither of which UC has a surplus of. With this in mind and with AD Thomas saying an addition of 10k seats would cost roughly 100m my idea seems to make even more sense.

    I know I'm going to get blasted for this and I know some will absolutely hate it but I'm trying to think how UC can keep their football and basketball programs growing while making money and using the limited space they currently own.

    My idea is to play all football games at PBS, build a new basketball arena where Nippert currently sits, and renovate 5/3 to be a basketball practice facility. With this plan your only building one new structure and renovating another instead of at the very least renovating 3 different structures.

    I have been unable to find the #'s but I believe I once read that UC made b/t 400-600k more with last years game at PBS compared to at Nippert. Just using the low end (400k) and considering once TCU joins the BE I dont see UC having less than 13 home games over a 2 year span. With these numbers over the 2 year span UC would make 5.2m more than they would at Nippert. Over a 5 year period they would make 26m more than at Nippert, is this really an option to turn down?

    Other things to consider....

    - Of course winning plays the biggest part in all this but people will go watch a winner regardless and they wont go watch a loser regardless. If UC was playing their in 09' I have a hard time believing people wouldnt have packed the place b/c its not on campus.

    - If UC made a long term commitment to play at PBS I would assume the current contract b/t UC and the Bengals would be reworked. Maybe there would be an effort to "Bearcatize" the field and share concessions/parking/etc...if those things arent already shared, I dont know?

    - A move there would undoubtedly help UC schedule premiere programs which as long as UC was winning would increase ticket numbers and revenue. I dont doubt for 1 second they struggle getting big time programs to come to Nippert.

    - I know people have said their experience wasnt great for whatever reason, personally it couldnt have been any smoother. We parked and tailgated b/t the two stadiums w/ no issue and entered the game from one of the south gates. I would also assume a permanent move would allow everyone involved to really study the best ways to handle everything that goes into the game day operations and I'm betting this year's games are smoother than last year.

    With all that said I completely understand the sentiment toward Nippert, I love the place and every person I've brought there whether it be an OSU fan or a UT friend/fan also loves it but I want to be BIG TIME in college football. Its obvious UC is doing everything in their power to make football at UC matter, the investment over the last 5 years has probably tripled the investment over the previous 20 but I dont think there is anyway you can be big time and compete consistently on the national level playing in a 35k seat stadium.

    Lets be honest, we dont have a lot of options, its not like we can blow up Nippert and rebuild a 50-60k stadium in its place. It is not an ideal plan by any means but what other way can UC add revenue and grow the 2 major programs? Someone's gonna have to come up with something a lot better for me to get on board.

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  • I am pretty certain that at one point pior to this basketball season, the school was in advanced talks to move basketball down to US Bank Arena and the Arena was to agree to something like $25MM in renovations making the Bearcats the first priority tenant. US Bank then ran some ROI numbers and realized they couldn't make any money on the renovations at the lease terms UC was throwing out and now the focus has shifted back to renovating 5/3 which would include rotating the court.

    You better rep that "C" and you better rep it good!

  • The 2nd part of this is the basketball side.

    I would build a new arena where Nippert sits. It would have exactly 13,176 seats b/c I think thats an iconic number, I cant tell you how many Neyland or Thompson Bowling holds but I know exactly how many 5/3 holds. It would have everything we all talk about and would now be the centerpiece of a campus that has drastically changed for the better since 5/3 was built.

    I would then renovate 5/3 to be the basketball only facility. Renovations would frankly be minimal, operational needs would be addressed but I would not add many if any bells and whistles. It would be set up so both programs could also hold camps and other functions.

    Pitt's new arena coast 119m to build in 2002, I've never been there so I dont know how glammed out it is but it looks beyond awesome on tv. I'd imagine we would build a very nice arena for 100m and I would guess the 15m # MT threw out would be for something similar to the minimal renovations to 5/3.

    So for roughly 115-125m we could have a new hoops arena, a "new" hoops practice facility, and a football stadium that seats 65k or for we can have a stadium that seats 45k, a renovated hoops arena, and who knows what for a practice gym for 115-190m

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