(Bump: Sorry I missed this a few days ago. - Chris)
So I was just at the Broad College Alumni event in Chicago (even though I'm a JMC alum). Hollis was already in town for the B1G meetings so he came over, mingled with us for a few hours, and spoke & took questions for an hour from the group. Here are some highlights from what I can remember, I wasn't taking notes:
Talked about the overall updates going on right now and visions for the near future. Basically, it was a lot of what we're asking for here:
- Overhaul & upgrade the concourses basically everywhere. This includes adding more bathrooms (especially more ladies rooms), adding & upgrading concessions, and what sounds like some widening. We earn a very low take from concessions, especially for the Big Ten. He compared us to either Northern Iowa or Iowa State and noted that Wisconsin earns several times as much.
- Expand the footprint of the stadium. Basically, clear out everything that's in between the concrete pillars, build a nice looking fence or gate that surrounds the stadium from the outside, and have the entry points be there. He kept referring to the area it creates as a "comfort zone" or something. He said there can be concessions and restrooms in that area and described it like a moat.
- The gas station is going but I think we already knew that.
- Also that we already knew, major upgrades to the locker room and building new officials locker room and a media center. He talked about how woefully outdated our facilities are. Apparently we're one of very few teams to not have an official's dressing room, they change in a trailer outside of the stadium.
- There will be a big recruiting center that will be used by all sports.
- Also, Munn is getting some serious work done, first removing the freon system, then upgrading the whole thing. It sounds like it will look better from the outside & be way improved on the inside.
- Didn't mention anything about lights, the a/v system, suites, or alcohol.
- The dept. breaks even, taking in & spending around $85mm. But, all the sports besides basketball & football lose money, between tens of thousands and close to $4mm per sport.
- We make a tiny amount of money from concessions. Also we make a much lower cut that other, more high profile, B1G schools on merchandise. So our athletic budget is significantly smaller than M's, gave their number as $150mm though they have 27 varsity sports to our 25.
- Talked about strategically investing money in the non-revenue sports, gave Tennis as an example. He talked about how we used a small amount of money (<$50k) to hire an additional coach. This season, the 100th in MSU tennis history, we made the NCAA Tournament for the first time (though it's only been around since 1972). Also mentioned investments that resulted in new baseball, softball & two soccer fields.
- The scales have finally tipped to where the B1G schools made more from TV last season than tickets. He said it isn't good that the decisions are now being made by & with TV execs in mind, not fans. Talked about a balance there.
- He was asked about student athletes getting paid, he is not in favor of it, mentioned that he's an educator and would step down if that day comes.
- Said he's very in favor of MSU in the B1G East, the teams in it are the teams Duffy & John Hannah wanted to play so those are the teams he wants to play. He was very upset reading fan bellyaching about wanting to be in the West. Said he wants us to be the best and to beat the best and doesn't want the easy way to anything.
- Said the B1G East is also better, strategically, for MSU. Mentioned that there are huge alumni bases in DC & NYC that want MSU games there, and he talked about making those towns another Evanston when MSU goes there & the stadium is 50/50 or even 60/40 in our favor. Said there just isn't a fanbase for MSU in places like Lincoln or Iowa City.
- Not sure what's going to happen in basketball but it seemed like he was in favor of divisions. Talked about how too many single plays will make the regular season meaningless. By my math, an 18 game season in a 14 team league will be 8 single plays & 5 double plays.
- Thinks we'll stay at 14 for now, said that expanding was a reaction to ND to the ACC. Doesn't anticipate expanding again in the near term unless it's "defensive."
- It sounds like he likes to troll Dave Brandon. Said they're not friends, but rather like brothers that like to beat each other up. Mentioned he did something to Brandon recently, someone asked if it had something to do with "chicken," he just chuckled & said it was much funnier.
If I can remember anything more I'll put it up, but it was a pretty cool event and he was really candid. Derrick Nix was there for the first half, and after he left Hollis couldn't stop talking about how great a kid he is.