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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Zona Zoo proposes inclusive sports pass

    With a new Zona Zoo plan, more students may pack McKale Center next year.
    With a new Zona Zoo plan, more students may pack McKale Center next year.

    After an underwhelming student turnout at men’s basketball games and a Zona Zoo pass that was the most expensive in the Pacific 10 Conference, changes are on the horizon for the program.

    The Associated Students of the University of Arizona and Zona Zoo are pushing for a policy that will allow students to attend all UA sporting events, including basketball, with their Zona Zoo pass, said Michael Huston, the program’s director. The policy would mean an increase in the price of the Zona Zoo pass but would eliminate the purchase of basketball tickets.

    Though negotiations are still ongoing and the policy is not yet definitive, Huston said he and his staff favor this particular plan.

    “”We want to be as least expensive as possible for students,”” Huston said, “”but we also recognize that the athletic departments has costs for those seats both in football and basketball that they need to take in revenue for, so we need to arrive at a number that’s fair for both sides.””

    Scott Mackenzie, associate athletic director of external operations, said the proposal was discussed in the last meeting between the athletics department and student leaders after both sides tried to adjust the weaknesses of other policies.

    “”It’s promising, and we’re fairly close to something we can come to full agreement on,”” he said.

    ASUA released a statement Monday saying it hopes to have a policy finished in the next couple of weeks as negotiations continue. ASUA President Erin Hertzog could not be reached as of press time.

    Huston said cutting seats from the 2,300-person basketball student section, which is located on the north side of McKale Center, would be unlikely.

    This year the Zona Zoo pass cost $60, which included all UA sports events except men’s basketball and the ASU football game, which cost $10. Basketball tickets were sold every Monday for that week’s games on an individual basis.

    If a student bought tickets to 14 home games (not including four games over winter break) at the face value of $10 (two games were sold for $6) the cost would have been $142. The total cost of $202 put Arizona highest in the Pac-10. In the three previous years, basketball tickets were sold separately from other sports, but students had to win a lottery for the right to purchase seats. The Zona Zoo pass cost $40 in those years.

    “”I have pushed for the final pass price to be the lowest all-
    inclusive ticket in the Pac-10.””

    – Michael Huston
    Zona Zoo director

    “”I have pushed for the final pass price to be the lowest all-inclusive ticket in the Pac-10,”” Huston said.

    If the plan passes and tickets are lowest in the Pac-10, students could infer that the increase will be no more than $25 for the Zona Zoo pass, considering that ASU’s projected total at the beginning of this school year was $85. If ASU or other Pac-10 schools raise their prices, the increase could obviously be larger.

    UA athletic director Jim Livengood was out of town and was not available for comment.

    In February, Livengood said he was surprised the student turnout for basketball games was as low as it was.

    Only two games, North Carolina and Arizona State, were sold out this season.

    “”I think it’s a good number of student seats,”” Livengood said in February. “”And it’s an opportunity to see a really great basketball program, so yeah, we’d always like to have more in there. We’d like to have students fill up those seats, that’s for sure.””

    Students complained this year that the method of purchasing basketball tickets was tedious and confusing.

    “”We hope that this system would remove the barrier that might have been created last year by students having to purchase tickets to the basketball games too often,”” Huston said. “”We’ve been hearing that a lot of students were not motivated to buy tickets again and again and again.

    “”We’re hoping that if you buy your Zona Zoo pass and then you never have to pay for everything,”” he added. “”You know you have a ticket to every game, it’s easier for you (to) grab your buddy and say, ‘Hey, let’s go to the game tonight.’ “”

    Students also grumbled that less popular games on the basketball schedule, like Samford, were too expensive.

    McKenzie declined to discuss the specifics about the new policy but said there “”could be some contingencies to say it’s not the same for every game.””

    But for those who don’t attend basketball games, the price increase could be a deterrent to buying the pass. Huston and McKenzie both said they were conscious of the fact but were confident it would not drastically affect sales.

    “”If you never go to a basketball game, you are paying more than you did this year, so that is one of the downsides,”” Huston said. “”But I would say in response to that that the Zona Zoo pass is not a football pass, it’s a sports pass.””

    Added McKenzie: “”That’s the whole goal of what we’re doing, to increase basketball attendance and not to hurt football. This proposal I don’t think will impact football at all. I just think with the direction the football program’s going, that’s going to remain very strong.””

    In 2002, when basketball season tickets were put on sale at the beginning of the year at McKale Center, students rioted, leading to a change in the policy. Since then, the policy has changed almost every year. McKenzie said he hopes this new policy will be the last for years to come.

    “”We’ve come up with a policy pretty much, in my opinion, that’s pretty solid,”” said David Roost, incoming Zona Zoo spirit director. “”It’s not locked in, but the bottom line is when it’s all said and done, it’s going to be the best in the Pac-10.””

    – Michael Schwartz contributed to this story.

    Zona Zoo secures revenue sharing

    ASUA took a step forward when it secured a percentage of Zona Zoo revenue to go directly back into the Zona Zoo.
    Previously, revenue, which comes from sales of the Zona Zoo pass, went back to the athletics department. But Zona Zoo events and promotions, such as rally towels, were sponsored by ASUA.
    Michael Huston, Zona Zoo director, nor incoming director David Roost would divulge the percentage figures, but Huston said Zona Zoo would gain “”tens of thousands of dollars.””
    “”It’s a substantial number,”” he said. “”It’s not a dollar figure, it is a percentage. It will vary depending on the price of the pass and how many are sold in a given year.
    “”If you run some quick and dirty numbers, the amount of money Zona Zoo has to operate will be several times what it has ever been.””
    The money would go to Zona Zoo programs, such as road trips and tailgates, as well as the first ASUA Zona Zoo scholarships used for people who can’t afford the Zona Zoo pass.
    “”Having a portion of the revenue generated form sales come back for Zona Zoo is really going to enable the Zona Zoo leaders to put on programming and improve programming in ways we really would not have been able to do if it continued to only be funded by ASUA,”” Roost said.
    Added Huston: “”It’s a really big step.””

    – Michael Schwartz contributed
    to this story

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