December 05, 2006
Football at UTA again
Two years ago, I noted a student-led effort at the University of Texas-Arlington to revive that school's long-dormant football program. Now, via Marc, I see they're still at it.
Sam deBerry had hoped hundreds of people would march to bring football back to the University of Texas at Arlington, but about 70 turned out for a noon rally Wednesday.
"It speaks volumes of where we are as a school," deBerry said. "If any other campus had a rally, they would have had thousands of students. We have very little school spirit."
The Mavericks for Football Now and other students, many in T-shirts emblazoned with the words, "Got football? (we don't)" walked with deBerry from the University Center Mall to Davis Hall, where the university president's office is housed.
"What do we want?" deBerry yelled through a bullhorn.
"Football," the small crowd of football activists yelled back.
DeBerry started the group this year to attempt what no one has been able to do, bring a football team back to UT-Arlington. The program was disbanded after the 1985 season.
Armed with a petition with about 3,000 signatures and a booming voice emanating from a bullhorn, deBerry asked James Spaniolo to come outside.
"Mr. President, your student body would like a word with you," deBerry said.
One student who did not want to be identified asked deBerry why he would want football when barely anyone turns out to watch the basketball team, which plays in an auditorium.
Somewhat dejected, deBerry and other members of the group folded up their large "WE WANT FOOTBALL" banners and walked away.
The movement will continue, deBerry said. The group is forming a club football team to play in the Texas United Football League and will begin a $20 million pledge drive after the new year.
"We fight the good fight. We won't rest until we bring football to UTA," he said.
Seems pretty quixotic to me, but I wish them luck anyway. Marc, who has a longtime connection to UTA, gives some good comments about the matter. Check it out.
Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 05, 2006 to Other sports
I don't see it. The metroplex already has 3 Division I football teams (TCU, SMU, and North Texas) and none of them draw very well. Even TCU for all its recent success on the field barely ever sells out its medium-sized stadium. Where would a UT-Arlington team play? At the new Cowboys stadium? At the Cotton Bowl? At the old Cowboys stadium in Irving? I can't see building another stadium in the area.
If any schools in the UT system were going to add football I would think that UTSA would be the more logical choice. It's a bigger school. They have an unused ready-made home stadium with the Alamo Dome. And there are no other pro or college football teams in San Antonio to dilute the fan base.
They already have a pretty nice football stadium. Its named Maverick Stadium. It has a capacity of 15,000.
Unless I am mistaken, UTA has a nice soccer field with field turf, but that does not make me want football there. As a UTA alum, we were given surveys about this a few years back. What I think it boiled down to was that it was going to be another tuition increase, and at the rate the tuition and fees are rising, who could afford it? Not worth the time and effort. Let him raise the $20 million (yeah, right) ... and then donate it to the education department or some other worthy group. Football is not life. Get over it.
Kent, you are not particularly well informed. UTA has a stadium. Maverick Stadium was built in 1980 to house football and track & field, and has been used continuously for over 25 years for track and high school football games. The turf is in good condition and the facility would require very little in the way of upgrades. In fact, as it now exists, Maverick Stadium would be one of the top 5 in the Southland Conference. Really all that is missing is a team, and all that is required to have a team is for the administration to make a decision. In that regard, UTSA and Lamar are ahead of us, as their Presidents both have indicated a desire to get football started there.
Sebastian is mistaken about the field, but essentially correct in demonstrating that many UTA Alums don't care. Students voted in April, 2004 to approve raising the athletics fee by $2 per semester hour, which would cover operating costs. That fee increase will not be collected until the administration decides to proceed with athletics expansion, which will include women's golf and soccer, plus football. Additional funds would need to be raised for startup costs. The amount has been estimated at $3 to $5 million, depending on how fancy they want to make the new facilities (locker rooms, offices, etc.) Check out the url provided to see the particulars of the study that was commissioned.
Whether or not the area will support another team is an open question. I do not consider UNT to be in the Metroplex, but their fans have responded well when the team wins, just as they have at TCU and SMU. Of the three, only TCU has consistently won recently, and as a result, they have steadily improved attendance in their approximately 40K seat stadium. But to return to the question, I believe the Arlington community will support a winner, and that the program would be viable, given the institutional support offered by the student athletics fee. You will note in the sports expansion study, ticket sales and attendance were not figured into anticipated revenues, so the financial plans for sports expansion are pretty conservative.