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Athletics ‘hitting the pause button’ on proposed athletic fee

Greg+Byrne+discusses+a+new+athletics+fee+at+an+ASUA+meeting+on+Feb.+17.+Byrne+told+the+senate+that+the+proposed+athletic+fee+would+be+paused%2C+so+that+students+could+better+be+a+part+of+its+planning+and+implementation.
Sydney Richardson

Greg Byrne discusses a new athletics fee at an ASUA meeting on Feb. 17. Byrne told the senate that the proposed athletic fee would be “paused,” so that students could better be a part of its planning and implementation.

Athletic Director Greg Byrne stood in front of the ASUA Senate Wednesday night and told them that “we’re hitting the pause button” on moving forward this year with the proposed $200 athletic fee.

“We’re not hitting the stop button,” he added. “What we’ve done — and I’ve told you this on the front end — is we were going to listen to you … and we started getting feedback.”

Video courtesy of UATV3 / Megan Gibbs

The outpour of feedback from students and the surrounding community, input from leaders of the ZonaZoo and student government as well as Byrne’s persistence that students need to be given the chance to have a say in the process ultimately caused Arizona Athletics to step back from the fee and realize that more planning was needed before proceeding.

“What we [originally] came forward with was one proposal — and we had spent a lot of time on this — but that doesn’t mean that we can’t continue to look and develop on what the model is,” Byrne said.

The plan is to stick to the original three-prong approach for funding on the roughly $150 million project. This includes the following: 

  • Implementing a student athletic fee
  • Raising (at least) $50 million in donations
  • Implementing a stadium renovation fee on normal ticket holders

Now, however, Arizona Athletics is proposing that students be more involved with the planning process and the implementation of the actual fee. This will be done largely through a two-part survey, in which the first part will determine which parts of Arizona Stadium students see as a priority for renovation.

Following the first survey, Arizona Athletics will take the data collected and formulate a new project plan and funding model based off students’ renovation priorities. They will then present this new plan – which would include a newly calculated fee – to students in a second survey, and measure their support for the project.

“Students win in this situation because they’re at the center of everything,” said Sen. Joe Zanoni in a phone call following the presentation.

Following the presentation, Sen. Zanoni reported to the ASUA Senate that he had met with Byrne and Arizona Athletics the week prior and had already begun drafting the first survey. Zanoni said that the goal for the first survey was to have it “benchmark” the fee by asking students how much they would be comfortable paying per semester. The survey would then show students how much renovation each tier of fee would be able to pay for.

“I can’t be any more sincere to say that we want your feedback,” Byrne said. “We don’t take what we’re asking lightly, but were trying to solve an issue that needs to be solved.”


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