Bill Byrne's Wednesday Weekly
August Update

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Friday, August 1, 2003

College Station, TX- Iím pleased to announce that through an arrangement with FOX Sports Net we will offer our first two football games, Arkansas State on August 30 and Utah on September 6, on pay-per-view television. We are extremely grateful to FSN for these opportunities, and they are working with the Big 12 Conference office to see whether we might also stream one or both of them on our web site on a delayed basis.

Kickoff remains 7 p.m. for both games at Kyle Field, the change we made to take advantage of a significant difference in temperature and heat index that we believe will reduce the frequency of heat-related medical situations for our fans and players. Weíll have more details about the PPV in a couple of weeks.

On the subject of kickoff times, many of you have written in about the rumor that our game in Lubbock against Texas Tech on October 4 starts at 9 p.m. Well, that is not written in stone yet. FOX Sports did negotiate with Tech officials for that open time slot on their national telecast slate, and we agreed to it in principle. However, it is subject to ABC-TVís 12-day window option and we wonít know until late September.

FSN spoke to Tech and us about this possibility because TBS has the Kansas State-Texas game earlier in the evening, and chances are strong that ABC will select Oklahoma at Iowa State for their afternoon slot. But you never know how things will play out before that first full weekend of conference games.

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There are other new, exciting things to announce today, too Ė ticket buying conveniences. For the first time ever, you can go on-line at www.12thManFoundation.com, check out the view from any seat in the house, and then purchase single-game or season tickets.

If you havenít seen the marvelous 360-degree virtual tour of Kyle Field and The Zone yet on that site, youíll be amazed. You get a total view of the field from any seat at Kyle Field, and then a total view of everything around you, up, down, or sideways in every direction.

When you decide to buy tickets, the web site locates the best seats available. Remember, you can buy season tickets without a 12th Man Foundation membership. However, donors to the Foundation receive priority seating, along with several other privileges and benefits.

The toughest ticket right now is the home game against tu on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Single-game tickets for that one are available only to 12th Man Foundation members for the time being.

If you have any problem navigating the new ticket site on line, call toll-free to 1.888.99-AGGIE (992.4443). It appears that the system works well; 49 tickets sold on the site before it was even officially open for business. Which also indicates that radio advertising works, because our sales campaign ads said to go to the web site for tickets.

Along with the on-line convenience, we also are delighted that our new walk-up windows Ė three of them Ė are open now in The Zone, where we have recently moved the entire athletic ticket operation under Tracy Treps. Plus, in the rooms behind the windows we have a bank of telephones functional for taking ticket orders by phone. This is for all sports, by the way. Use that same number as above.

Enhancing this convenience is a section of free parking available to you in Lot A on the northwest corner outside of Kyle Field next to The Zone. You then walk around to the doors where the Aggie Locker is located and go straight through to the back.

One final good bit of news from the ticket office is that season tickets will be in the mail to 12th Man Foundation members starting Tuesday, the same day the football players report for fall practice. Thatís the earliest weíve begun to mail tickets, and it will streamline the process further in our commitment to make ticketing a more efficient and easy process for you. Single-game tickets go out later in the month, and tickets to away games go out when we get them from the host teams.

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After so much good news, I hate to give you a harsh reality check, but perhaps this will help you understand more about why we had to raise football season ticket prices immediately.

First, the initial estimates are in on the renovation of the press box at Kyle Field that is required to bring it into compliance with state and federal laws. It has been declared a high-rise building, and it doesnít meet fire and safety code requirements and it must come up to the Federal Disabilities Act standards. The fire-safety changes estimate is $8 million.

That's the bad news. The good news is that we found that the initial review revealed no asbestos. Imagine what it would cost if we had found that. Hang on to your hats! A new press box crossed our minds, but it would cost three to four times more.

Another jolt came last week when we learned about the hike in tuition and fees. That was an immediate $890,000 more that we had to come up with to cover the scholarships of our men and women student-athletes in 21 sports. Just for one semester. Word is that tuition and fees will go up again next year.

Add those to two huge costs that you already know about Ė the $50 million South End Zone project, which still is not fully funded, and the turnover of an athletic director, head football coach, and head womenís basketball coach within a four-month window Ė and you can see the fiscal responsibility we are charged with.

Without apologies, because you have indicated you want the best athletic program in the country, we will continue to ask you to step up as we progress. And I always want you to know how grateful I am for your generosity in support of our joint vision for serving young people in a way that gives them the best opportunity for success, academically as well as athletically.

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Yet another new service and product that does the Aggie tradition proud, and another first, is The Dawn of a New Era: The Official Guide to Texas A&M 2003 Aggie Football. In the past this has been commonly called the media guide. You will simply not believe the beauty and functionality of our new one produced by Alan Cannonís fine award-winning staff in the Sports Information department, led by Brad Marquardt as chief editor of the publication.

It is bound in hardback. We are the first major program to publish the football guide in a hard book cover, making it into a collectorís item, coffee-table style book. With more than 400 pages of photos, background information on staff and players, Aggie records and history, preview of opponents, and a variety of extras, this book will keep you reading throughout the season for both reference and pleasure.

It is available at the Memorial Student Center book store on campus, or on line in the Aggie Locker on www.AggieAthletics.com. The cost is $25, and there is a surcharge for shipping and handling when purchased on the web site.

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Special congratulations to Mary Zorn for her incredible summer achievements. This week she became the national champion in archery as the first woman ever to score over 1,400 points. That came on top of her becoming world champion with a world-record output earlier. Mary is a junior at Texas A&M.

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With the onset of football season (the players report Tuesday and start practice Wednesday) I will visit you here on the web site weekly. My message will appear on Wednesdays. Many of you have made use of the email opportunity that is offered alongside the message, and I welcome that. Please know that time constraints keep me from answering it all individually, but Iím aware of all the issues and questions you raise.

Iíll address those and some of my own issues each week. Things like one that for some reason generated dozens of emails recently: why we have orange coolers on the football sideline instead of maroon (it is a trademark for Gatorade, the replenishment liquid of choice of the players and coaches).

This concludes a wonderful week in the Byrne household. Marilyn and I have enjoyed having our grandsons, Nicholas and Davis, in town. We took them to visit everything Aggie, and even though their father works for the athletic department at the University of Kentucky they now have plenty of Maroon and White with which to display the Texas A&M mark in the bluegrass state. Thatís a different conference anyway, right?

They flew by themselves for the first time, and today we took them back to Houston to fly back home. Now, like you, we will brace for the month that the excitement builds to fever pitch as we all await the opening kickoff.

And if you canít be there Ė PPV. Thatís where I came inÖ.



Gig Ďem, Aggies!

Bill Byrne
Director of Athletics