Arizona State University athletic director Ray Anderson will talk Sun Devil sports, including a huge donation recently made to the university’s hockey team.
Ted Simons: Coming up next on "Arizona Horizon," we'll hear from ASU athletic director Ray Anderson on stadium renovations and athletic districts. And we'll meet the new head of a group working to get businesses to relocate to the Valley. Next on "Arizona Horizon."
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Ted Simons: Good evening, welcome to "Arizona Horizon," I'm Ted Simons. ASU athletic director Ray Anderson oversees more than games and scores, he's also shepherding everything from capital projects and clothing contracts to new facilities for the baseball and golf program. Here now to update those and other endeavors is ASU athletic director, Ray Anderson. Good to see you.
Ray Anderson: Good to see you, Ted.
Ted Simons: How are you holding up?
Ray Anderson: Very well. Thank you.
Ted Simons: Is this new job what you expected so far or is it a little different?
Ray Anderson: Well, it is broader and deeper than I could have envisioned with the various things going on. I don't think President Crow or any of the members of the committee a year ago -- it's a year ago today I showed up to begin my duties -- could have articulated for me really the depth and breadth of all it entails. It's been fast and furious, interesting as all get-out. The student athletes, sports, donors, alumni relationship, the facilities, you name it. It's been a whirlwind and I'm enjoying it very much.
Ted Simons: And you're making for a lot of changes here. Can you change too much, too quickly?
Ray Anderson: I suppose you can. We don't feel like we have faced that challenge yet. Change is hard for some folks, and you've got to bring it when you have it. So we're trying to do that. No, we don't think we've done anything hastily or too quickly. We like our timing and our pace.
Ted Simons: $500,000 donation for the stadium? Is that what happened there? Did you do that?
Ray Anderson: My wife and I, Buffy, along with Todd Graham and his wife Penny, when it came time to talk about the fund-raising efforts for the stadium, collectively we just believed we need to do put skin in the game ourselves to make a commitment of significance, at least to the ability of our means. Particularly if we were going go out and encourage and ask others to step up and financially support the efforts. We just thought it was the right thing to do and we're proud to be able to do it.
Ted Simons: Let's talk about Sun devil stadium, what's the update on the stadium renovations? There's a chunk lost on the North side. What's happening?
Ray Anderson: On the North side, if you come around to the South side off Veterans you will see construction going on in earnest. Primarily demolishing, so the whole student section in the South end zone, which becomes the student section, is now flat. They will begin to construct and there will be a South bowl filled up and ready to go for our student section when we kick off in August.
Ted Simons: And now, are there phases for this renovation? And if so, what are those phases?
Ray Anderson: Three phases, most importantly was to get the student section done first. Then that will be followed by work on the east side and then the final phase will be on the west side, also the new student athlete facility on the North side. So it'll be phases this year, next year and then in August of 2017 we'll have a completely reinvented venue.
Ted Simons: Until August of 2017, the games will continue? No playing over here or playing over there?
Ray Anderson: It was very important to us to not displace our fans or disrupt our momentum. We will play in season. What they'll do is they will construct really diligently during the off season like now. And once we get to August of 2015, the in-bowl work will shut down and they will do more back of the house exterior work. But we will play all of our games in the stadium through the construction.
Ted Simons: Real quickly, I know years ago there was concern there might have been some water damage or safety concerns. Are those being addressed?
Ray Anderson: Absolutely, all of that has been done through engineering, our architecture firm, our construction firm, our safety folks, those are infrastructure things that absolutely are being addressed. A lot of the work really is out of eye sight, it's some of that back of the house structural stuff that a normal fan wouldn't see, piping and electrical, etc. -- is being addressed. And it will be a - like a brand new stadium when we're done.
Ted Simons: I would say there's a favorite old stadium in town, Phoenix Municipal stadium, where the Phoenix Giants and Phoenix Firebirds and just a lot of history, that is the new home of ASU baseball.
Ray Anderson: It is. The Oakland As were the most recent tenants there, they have moved to new facilities. In conjunction with the City of Phoenix we have Phoenix Muni as hope of Sun Devil baseball. We put quite a bit of money into the renovation. We actually have our alumni game which will be our first public unveiling. And then next Friday the 13th we open up against Oklahoma state. It's been rebranded, looks fabulous, will gives us lot more seating and much better media coverage area. So we're really proud of it.
Ted Simons: For those who grew up with Packard Stadium, why the move?
Ray Anderson: It was just time. Packard served us well for 40 years but it was no longer up to elite status, in terms of this facility, including the press box. It was time for us to have a new facility that was more reflective of an elite baseball program. We have that now at Phoenix Muni.
Ted Simons: Will it still be called Phoenix Muni or is that going to be changed sometime?
Ray Anderson: Sun Devil baseball, Phoenix muni. At some point there'll be a different name to be determined. We haven't had those discussions.
Ted Simons: I'll just say, a lot of folks like Phoenix Muni.
Ray Anderson: Got a lot of memories here, I'm told.
Ted Simons: A lot of memories at Papago golf course, as well. Continuing with the ASU golf program going on over there. Again, what happened to Carston? What's going on with Carston?
Ray Anderson: Well you know, Carton is running - It's the hope of our golf teams right now, still to determine the time that we actually move over to papago, certainly there is an agreement that will become the home of Sun Devil men and women's golf. It's just to determine when that is. The determination has been made that carston, eventually a portion of it will be closed and we will be part of the athletic facilities district. Still trying to figure out the details and the nuances of that.
Ted Simons: I want to get to that district in a second. Will there be a new clubhouse built at Papago to serve not only ASU but the general public?
Ray Anderson: Emphatically yes, and that's being planned. I don't know if we're at the design phase. There's no question a new clubouse is part of the design program. That will be one of the early things done there, so in the next year or so, I would surmise, yes.
Ted Simons: Interesting. As far as moving over there, that could be two or three years down the road?
Ray Anderson: I wouldn't say two or three years, but it could be some months. Still being determined in terms of transition time. Still have some work to do, but it'll be in the very new future.
Ted Simons: I keep seeing people playing out there in Carston. Keep thinking that thing's supposed to be closed.
Ray Anderson: No, no, we're going to play until it's actually time to move and there is a substitute for the play for our men and women's golf team.
Ted Simons: Losing golf balls in the 18th hole right and left. That's what you guys want to do, collect money. The athletic district, you mentioned it earlier. What is it? Where is it? How far along is it?
Ray Anderson: We're in the early stages of master planning, in terms of what is it, 330 acres around the current athletic facilities. A lot of it on the east side of Rural Road going down to Rio Salado. It is a beautiful, wonderfully placed section of land and there will be apartments, retail, there will be mixed use, there will be additional athletic facilities. There will be other businesses, maybe some additional academic buildings over there again, early in the master planning that really is just become active in the last two or three months. But that will be rolled out here in the not too distant future, as well. What's fun about coming here and just being here for years is all of this stuff is swirling around and happening, a lot of it simultaneously, and you can imagine the excitement and kind of being in the middle of it. At times, at times at 35 thousand feet but always with great interest.
Ted Simons: And again, this will finance athletic capital projects, this particular district, correct?
Ray Anderson: That's why it's called the athletic facility district. It'll be able to help with some of the athletic capital projects but not necessarily limited to just athletics. If there are other projects that require funding and it is a better use, there will be some discretion on the part of the powers that be. But it will benefit ASU Sun Devil athletics, they will be part of that benefit.
Ted Simons: In general, revenue streams, donor relations, these sorts of things? Are you seeing improvement and What needs to be improved.
Ray Anderson: Well we are seeing improvements. I think people have really responded to the vision of what we're trying to do with Sun Devil athletics and give a lot of credit to president crow for stepping up and saying, we want the vision of the university to be the vision of the athletic department to win consistently, to win within the rules, compete in championships but be an elite program. Folks have bought into the vision and Certainly coach Graham and what he's done in football, I'd like to believe my presence is another indication that we're going to be serious and very driven to really deliver a first class product academically and athletically for all our student athletes and to people responding by stepping up and saying they want to financially invest in those endeavors.
Ted Simons: Are they seeing a different ASU, just saying moving into the elites suggest that in the past, maybe the elite was a little bit out of grasp. And we've heard everyone from dirt cutter to other folks. Anyone that remembers of ASU baseball in the old days,that was top notch that was the Reggie Jacksons of the world comes to ASU. Not quite there right now and it hasn't been that way for a while. How does ASU become elite in terms of athletics?
Ray Anderson: First of all, it's driven by the student athletes. You've got to make sure you're identifying academically and athletically. And then get them here, recruit them here effectively. You have to have coaches and personnel dedicated to that mission. Then you need a President and administration and alumni and donor, who want to see that. Then you just very frankly, set expectations and the bar higher and then you force yourself to go do that. It's not easy, there's no secret sauce to it but hard work and dedication and vision, and we think people are bringing all that dedication to the table now. And people are buying in.
Ted Simons: Quickly, as far as this job and you, quality of life: When you were here last time you were talking about getting out of the NFL and coming to a University environment. You were familiar with Tempe and ASU, but it was still new to you. It's not quite as new anymore. What are you thinking?
Ray Anderson: I think it's a fabulous place to be. People ask what's the difference, and the difference is there is still a purity and innocence with these young men and women, these student athletes that just gives you energy day in and day out. Folks say what's the difference and I say when you become the athletic director of 550 student athletes, they become like your surrogate children. When you watch them compete academically or athletically, there's a different level of engagement like going watch your own kids play soccer, or football, or basketball or sand volleyball, Wrestling, what have you. There's just this energy and love and engagement that you just don't get at a professional level. It's like going to watch my own kids play in buffy zone - and that's the difference that makes this so dynamic.
Ted Simons: Was that difference hammered in with the superbowl in town and with the nfl deflate gate and the Johnny Manziel going into rehab and -- a little enforced with that going on?
Ray Anderson: With the wonderful things that have happened since the first day I got here on campus, with the things I'm talking about, getting to know the student athletes and coaches and parents, and just seeing the innocence and passion and drive and love for the competition. And then unfortunately to see some of the things that have happened in the NFL drive home the distinction difference, it makes us- my wife and I look in the mirror and say, boy don't we love it here at Arizona state? Isn't this a better state? Aren't these student athletes have a fabulous environment for us to work in.
Ted Simons: And you've got a hockey program coming on line, don't you? How did that happen?
Ray Anderson: We've had a hockey program level successful here for years. They won the national championship last year. One of the Cronkite school students came to my office and basicaly said Mr. Anderson, we've got a great hockey program, why not make it varsity, it's all about the financing. If people step up and want to help us fund it and also help us fund for Title IX purposes, another women's sport, we'll make it happen. A week after the story people called up to say, in fact, we are interested, fast-forward, we have $32 million committed from very committed folks who want to see ASU hockey on a varsity left and it's going to be possible to add another women's support or two. How terrific is that.
Ted Simons: Fantastic. Well it sounds like very busy times. You sound like you're enjoying it. You're a lucky man to be enjoying your job with so many things going on at once. Congratulations and good to see you.
Ray Anderson: Thank you, Ted, likewise, appreciate it.
Ray Anderson:Athletic Director, Arizona State University;