Byrne reaches out to Tucson

Mike Christy | The Daily Wildcat Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat The No. 16 Arizona Wildcats men's basketball team took on the Memphis Tigers in second round action of the 2011 NCAA Tournament on Saturday, March 18 at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla. The Wildcats held on for a 77-75 win.

The Arizona Athletics is hoping that the Tucson community and all Wildcat fans will help athletics grow by joining the Wildcat Club.

Athletic director Greg Byrne met with the media on Wednesday to unveil the department's new fundraising proposal. Byrne hopes to acquire private donations through the Wildcat Club. Each alumnus would donate a minimum of $100 a year, which would come out to $9 a month.

""That's going to support all 19 of our teams and all 500 of our student athletes,"" Byrne said.

The department has already sent an email to 163,000 prospective donors, and it's using a volunteer force to call other prospects.

""Currently we have about 7,200 members and our goal is to have 12,000 by 2013,"" Byrne said. ""Think about that, add 5,000 members at $100 a piece, and most folks come in well above that, and that's an extra half million dollars in revenue for us.""

Byrne hopes to ""stair step"" his way up by reaching 9,000 members by June 30, 10,500 members by next June 30, 2012 and the 12,000 by 2013.

""We have 112 volunteers throughout the state, they will call leads that they have in their area and solicit on our behalf,"" Byrne said.

The leads that the volunteers will come up with, through their own personal networks, will be on top of the 163,000 emails that have already been sent out.

The extra revenue would be used for projects that the department needs to complete, such as the soccer team needs new lights that will cost $350,000, according to Byrne. With the extra funding, Byrne will be able to do two or three similar projects.

""Sometimes people think this is only for the highest end folks, and it's for everybody. It's everybody walking down the street,"" Byrne said. ""It also gives you the opportunity to get a lot of benefits including priority areas in football, men's basketball and softball as well.""

Other notes

Byrne will embark on another spring tour with Mike Stoops, Sean Miller and Niya Butts this spring as they meet the community.

""We are going to have some quality time together,"" Byrne said. ""We are hitting Douglas, Sierra Vista, Nogales, Yuma, Prescott, Flagstaff and Phoenix all in one week.""

Additionally, the department has begun construction on the new football scoreboard. The area has been cleared south of Arizona Stadium, and some off-site construction has begun. The goal is still to have the screen operational by the first home game of the season. Byrne and the rest of the athletic department will speak with the Board of Regents this summer in hopes of getting approval for the project.

Byrne also said he hopes to be able to announce a new swimming and diving head coach early next week.

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