Patterson paints a bright future for school

In his first "State of the Union" address since being named ASU's Vice President of Athletics Steve Patterson discussed several issues concerning his department including the renovation of Sun Devil Stadium and the future home of ASU baseball.

Here are some of the highlights from Patterson's meeting with the local media on Tuesday morning where he discussed several topics regarding Sun Devil Athletics:

- Patterson was very pleased with all the work Head Football coach Todd Graham has done thus far in the off-season "I think his high octane approach to life and speaking victory will carry over to the field," he said. "We wanted to hire someone who had discipline, could connect to the community and play an exciting brand of football and Todd fits all of those criteria."

- The transparency of Graham with the media has been well documented and Patterson says that it reflects the transparency that the entire athletic department would like to have with the media and the community.

- ASU's Vice President of Athletics was equally excited about the direction the men's basketball team was headed in. He cited Head Coach Herb Sendek's increased involvement with the community and the fact that point guard Jahii Carson is now academically eligible as positive program off-season developments. "I believe we are headed in the right direction," Patterson remarked.

- Patterson said that in general that the way that ASU athletics has been managed in recent months has been quite different than the past. "We have had a lot of changes in the business practices of how this athletic department is run," Patterson said. "We really never had a business plan for the entire department prior to this past year. We sat down with all the head coaches and discussed goals and objectives and what is expected in terms of performance on the field or on the floor."

- While Patterson said that ASU doesn't have the rich tradition and history many universities have across the nation, it does have other assets it can utilize. "We have a great location here in the valley," Patterson commented. "We have hundreds of thousands of alums and we need to energize those folks to give back and get involved with ASU athletics again. I think the direction we are headed in will make it exciting for them."

- Facilities improvement was naturally the topic discussed the most in this meeting. Before Patterson addressed the Sun Devil Stadium renovations, he mentioned other facility upgrades taking place such as a new sound system at Wells Fargo Arena, $1 Million project to upgrade the Mona Plummer aquatic center, upgrades to the football offices on 3rd floor of the Carson Center, as well as improvements to the football locker room and weight room, and expanding tailgating areas such as the arboretum.

- In terms of Sun Devil Stadium renovations Patterson stated that studies in the marketplace regarding philanthropy, premium seating and naming rights are nearing conclusion and they should commence in the next couple of weeks. At that time Patterson said that the finance plan for renovations will be formulated by the end of the calendar year, and after that milestone is reached the construction timeline will be established.

- The 400 acres that run all along the Salt River from the stadium to McClintock road is the land designated as the stadium district and real estate revenues from this ASU-owned property can be used to finance the stadium and other athletic facilities. Discussions with potential developers will take place later in the year.

- The potential naming rights for the stadium could encompass the entire stadium and/or elements of it. The Mid-First Bank club seating project will be ready for the first home game of the year on August 30th.

- In terms of the stadium renovation, Patterson fully envisions a final product that will be a "great signature facility in a great iconic spot between the buttes." What is less clear is whether the stadium will ultimately be renovated in phases over four, five years working around the football season or over a period of nearly two years which would require the team to relocate to play in either Chase Field or University of Phoenix stadium for one season.

- The finance plan will obviously dictate which approach will be taken, although Patterson admitted that doing the renovation in phases would be more of a challenge. - Another hot topic was the future home of ASU baseball. The negations with the Chicago Cubs on sharing the Cubs' new Riverview facility which broke ground last month, have unexpectedly taken a turn for the worse and this could be due to a management change with that major league organization. Patterson stated that the next few weeks will determine if that facility sharing agreement can be reached or not, and in case of the later the ASU athletic department does have some contingency plans.

- "We are still in discussion and quite frankly it's taking too long," Patterson said of the negations with the Chicago Cubs. "We had a letter of agreement last November. I have done billions of dollars of sports deals and this should not have taken more than six weeks…If (sharing the Riverview facility) does work out great, if not we have other options."

- Overall, Patterson feels that the state of ASU athletics, as well as its future is very bright. "I think we have got a great opportunity to have fulfillment of the vision that we all have," Patterson said. "We want to be a top competitive team in all our sports and be in top 10 in the Director's Cup every year."


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