Arizona athletic director Dave Heeke said during a ZOOM press conference today with local media that the June 1 deadline to purchase season football tickets has not yet changed because of the uncertainty of the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He added, however, that “we have had some great feedback from our fans to give some latitude for them to prep and prepare for that.”
One example, he said, is allowing a “more generous payment plan that they can extend out all the way through August.”
The season opener is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 29 at Arizona Stadium against Hawaii.
“We’re trying to make it very convenient for fans in this unsettling and uncertain time,” Heeke added. “We’ve also made it clear that if the season is modified, that if the season is changed in some way, if we don’t have a season, which we all hope we don’t get to that point, we’ll provide opportunities for fans to be refunded.”
Heeke mentioned that not having a football season would be “devastating” from a budgetary standpoint for his entire athletic department. Speculation exists that if the college football season is scrapped entirely, it could have a lasting effect on non-revenue sports, including cancellation of those programs.
“I have not heard of a no-college-football-season scenario,” Heeke said. “It’s very important to the overall economic health of college athletics.”
Heeke said much uncertainty remains of all sports in the 2020-21 school year and that as a staff, Arizona is doing things under its control, such as planning the re-entry of students and staff. That planning must be in conjunction with federal, state and local governments and health agencies as it relates to COVID-19. No distinct time-frame has been issued for that re-entry of students and personnel.
The first session of summer school starts July 13, which is a time many incoming recruits and athletes report to get a jump on their academics.
Not having football will be devastating to the athletic deparment budget, but also a general lack of ticket sales for football can also be “critical for us going forward,” Heeke said.
Heeke also suggested that another plan developing is to allow only up to 50 percent capacity at Arizona Stadium and McKale Center for sporting events to keep with social-distancing policies during the pandemic.
“We’ve had good response to this point, although I will say we’ve also had folks who are waiting in anticipation of hearing more about football (being played),” Heeke said. “I couldn’t be more clear that our intention all along is that we’re going to play football and we’re going to have an opportunity for fans to take part in that in some way.
“It may be a modified approach to fans, but we’re moving forward with the hope that we can bring as many people, including our students, into the games going forward. We’ll see what happens leading up to the June 1 date and thereafter and move on from that point.”
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.