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Volume 20 No. 42
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Plugged In: Steve Patterson

Steve Patterson, who was named athletic director and a vice president at Arizona State University six months ago, has worked for multiple pro sports teams and consulted on several facility renovations. Now, as he puts that expertise to work at ASU, he talks about the Sun Devils’ future and the trends in the college space.

We think about ASU as a $1.6 billion-a-year business. We’ve got 73,000 students and 12,000 faculty and staff, so we have tremendous scale to leverage. To the extent we can take advantage of that to benefit the university as a whole is something we should be doing.

On current football stadium renovations:
We just finished our MidFirst Club, which meant converting seven suites into 150 all-inclusive club seats. Like the pros, you’re seeing less emphasis on suites and more on loge box seating, club seating, all-inclusive with food and beverage. Those upscale amenities are more prevalent in the college space now and there’s a good market out there for that.

You’re developing hundreds of acres around your stadium to pay for renovations. What will that look like eventually? It will be developed with office, commercial, residential and some retail. It’ll be a transformation of what Tempe looks like. ... Our ability to lease property will be a tremendous revenue source for our facilities here. The build-out of the district is a generational time frame, but it will take care of a portion of the stadium costs and a portion of the costs for our other facilities.

On playing in a pro sports town: It makes you be a bit more on your game because here in the Valley of the Sun, we’ve got some particularly good sports facilities where fans have a history of attending at facilities with great amenities. Customers understand what the best facilities are about, so we’ve got to continually work to improve our facilities and do things like work with the Disney Institute to improve our service, think about our marketing and PR. We can’t just open the doors and expect people to just show up. People who come here also go to other facilities, and they expect a high level of customer service.

On the new Pac-12 Networks: It’s tremendous exposure for all of our sports teams. It’s particularly helpful for women’s sports: Half of the programming is men’s sports, half is women’s sports. It allows us to tell our story nationwide. It helps recruiting and it will help the universities as a whole and help with exposure in the Eastern media markets. The first few years, it will take an investment to get it off the ground, but in the long run it will be a very helpful revenue stream. I’m just pleased with the exposure it’s bringing us.

Do you get it at home? Yes, I’ve got Cox cable.