Byrne Taking Fan-Friendly to a New Level at UofA

Arizona Sports News online

Arizona football is far more than just a game.

At least the way University of Arizona Vice President for Athletics Greg Byrne sees it.

It’s one of the reasons Byrne and the UofA athletic department created the Fan Alliance Network (F.A.N.) with the start of the season just 50 days away. The premise behind F.A.N. is to connect the program and fan base by making the fans an extension of the players on the field competing.

“Our world is changing,” Byrne explained to Sports360AZ.com’s Brad Cesmat in a phone interview Thursday morning. “We are constantly trying to interact and communicate with our fan base and engage them.”

The University selected 25 loyal fans to sit down with school officials and hear their feedback: both positive and negative in hopes of enhancing the overall game experience at Arizona Stadium this fall.

“What are we doing to keep the fans entertained throughout the game to where they say, ‘you know what, TV is really good but being at the game is much better and I’m going to make sure that I’m there,” the proactive Byrne told Cesmat. “Our foundation is people being at our games, buying season tickets and supporting our program. The energy that that brings to our program is critical.”

Byrne noted some suggested changes like later kickoff times are not realistic due to television agreements and restrictions but things like the type of music played in the stadium and how the video screen is used are.

He said close to 200 Cats’ fans applied to be part of the inaugural F.A.N. group and the goal is to meet every few months to brainstorm and discuss new ideas.

“We’ve been talking about it for nine months to a year so it’s time to implement the thing.”

Byrne believes the trickle-down effect impacts all of Arizona athletics noting Sean Miller brings basketball recruits to football games. 2012-13 Pac-12 Player of the Year and now Houston Rockets guard Nick Johnson committed to Miller’s program after watching UofA beat then ninth-ranked Iowa back in 2010.

A Valley native, Eric has had a passion for the Arizona sports scene since an early age. He has covered some of the biggest events including Super Bowls, national championships and the NBA and MLB playoffs in his near 20 years in local media.