Straight From The Hart - A Weekly Column From Rick Hart
May 24, 2013
First of all, my mind and heart have been with the residents of Moore, Oklahoma, since Monday. We were in Oklahoma for the May 3, 1999 and May 8, 2003 tornados. Oklahomans are strong, resilient people. Our thoughts and prayers remain with those affected by this devastating storm, particularly the victims' families.
The inaugural (annual) meeting of the American Athletic Conference took place earlier this week. It was a productive three days with Presidents, Athletics Directors and Senior Woman Administrators in attendance along with Head Coaches for football and men's and women's basketball. A summary of items discussed can be found here. There was a lot of energy and excitement regarding the opportunity to move forward together. We are appreciative of the leadership provided by Commissioner Mike Aresco during the preceding time of uncertainty and transition. Expect some significant announcements in the next few weeks regarding branding, basketball championships and other topics.
And now, to the mailbag...
Ryan (Allen, Texas): What are some of the plans underway to improve the in-stadium game experience at Ford? The most common items I hear from folks I bring to the games are lack of cellular/wireless signal, outdated TVs in the concourse that make the stadium feel small-time, and the often-mentioned desire for some sort of alcohol offering for those not in the club level. Are any of these going to be addressed as a way to get more folks off The Boulevard and into the stadium?
Answer: We recognize that fans expect to be entertained when they attend our athletics events. In particular, football home games are viewed by a growing number of people as a full day of social activity and engagement. This means we have to develop strategies for both inside and outside Ford Stadium. Over the last several years, The Boulevard has evolved into a valued aspect of SMU football game days. We do have some ideas, however, to expand and enhance elements of The Boulevard to appeal as a gathering place for our broad and diverse constituent base. Moving inside the venue, we have to transfer that excitement and social experience. The concepts you identified above are all under consideration and review. Upgrading the technology to include TVs and access to Wi-Fi is currently part of our plans for both Ford and Moody. The availability of alcohol in public spaces requires input from university administration and, perhaps, governing bodies. We're also in the process of hiring staff to create and execute marketing plans and improve the in-game experience.
We will be diligent in our efforts to consider and vet all options to promote and strengthen the fan experience at all Mustang Athletics events. As always, we welcome ideas and feedback.
Phillip (Houston, Texas): Could you give us an update on the progress of the new golf course and facility south of downtown? When will it open? What facilities will be available for the golf teams that you do not currently have?
Answer: The Trinity Forest Golf project is an initiative involving several entities including the City of Dallas. SMU is proud to be included among this group of civic and community leaders. It is too early in the process to share specific benefits which may extend to our golf programs; and timing is dependent upon a number of factors as well. Fundraising will also determine the scale and scope of our involvement and access. One important item of note is that our partnership with the Dallas Athletic Club remains a valuable asset to the athletics program. We are in the process of completing the hitting bays and our student-athletes enjoy unlimited access to a championship practice area. The Trinity Forest project would complement and enhance our facilities at the DAC, providing our golf programs with unmatched practice and competition resources.
And from Twitter @malonish: Can I get a concrete answer to my question: Will SMU football be wearing royal blue jerseys in 2013?
Answer: Some of you have expressed your preference for blue uniforms, and I agree that it's a strong look. That said, I also think that red looks good, too. Know that we're currently working with Nike on all our uniforms, as we want to create a more unified look among all our teams. However, on this specific question, I think some things are best left unsaid (for now)...
If you have a question or concern, contact me through this form, or email us at email@example.com. You can also reach me on Twitter at @AD_RickHart.
Thanks to all and Pony Up!