Dave Heeke Discusses His Role in the PAC-12, Upcoming Projects at Arizona

May 3rd, 2019 | by CollegeAD
Dave Heeke Discusses His Role in the PAC-12, Upcoming Projects at Arizona
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Dave Heeke sees the spotlight on the Pac-12 as a sign of interest in the league and its programs. The University of Arizona AD and Chairman of the Pac-12 AD Council believes it’s a positive sign that people are interested in what the next steps are and what the outcomes will be for the Pac-12.

“Media and fan scrutiny comes with the territory, it’s not a surprise to me that there is a lot of attention around our conference, there’s a lot of attention around all of college athletics,” Heeke told CollegeAD in late March.

The conference had a bumpy year, it had the fewest teams of any Power Five league in this year’s NCAA Tournament, has been left out of the College Football Playoff three times and is taking a non-traditional approach to media partnerships, but Heeke sees his role as Chair of the AD Council, as finding opportunities for the league.

“We feel good about our programs, we feel good about the strategies and initiative that we are rolling out,” he explains. “We are really optimistic about our media strategy, it’s not just a rights deal, it’s about finding a partner.” heeke

The Pac-12 is the only collegiate sports conference to own and control its own media company, Pac-12 Networks, and recently hired The Raine Group to help facilitate partnerships.

“You know, what’s this media environment going to be like? How are people going to interact and consume? That’s where we think there is real opportunity and the fact that we have full control puts us in a unique position to react to the changes taking place. So, in the short term, we are concerned about revenue, but in the long term we believe we are in a position to capitalize.”

He also tells CollegeAD the Pac-12 has the building blocks to grow in football, basketball and is pairing that with terrific coaches and strong recruiting classes.

“I think the future looks bright,” Heeke says. “Sometimes it gets cyclical and you just have to wade through that and look at the investments being made staff and facilities. We are proud of our student-athlete leaders, in overall health and wellbeing, we are actively involved in the concussion research and mental health issues.”

heekeHeeke explains that the role of the AD Council within the Pac-12 is to talk about issues that impact the conference from the perspective of athletic directors, then make recommendations. He says they meet face-to-face, make conference calls and really try to tackle issues that help determine the best direction for the conference.

“My role is to help facilitate that, to help keep the focus on some key, high-level issues and being a liaison with the conference staff and the commissioner so we are communicating back and forth.”

He says the PAC-12’s chancellors, presidents, and athletic director are committed to working together on the strategic approach of where they want to go as a conference.

“That’s been one of my goals as chair, to develop a higher collaborate between all of us,” he says. “I’ve enjoyed my time in a leadership role with other athletic directors, and we’ve tried to tackle some big issues, how we can be better as a group and how we can all be better connected.”
Closer to home for Heeke, at the University of Arizona, the school has undergone some changes and has more projects on the horizon. Recently they introduced alcohol sales and Heeke says it’s been a smooth roll out.

“We put a lot of thought and research into how to make this work. Revenue hasn’t driven our approach; it’s about responding to requests from our fan base and responding to the general market. We were very careful and responsive in our approach and we do it in a responsible manner,” he says.
Heeke says they are really responding to fan engagement on many levels, not just alcohol sales. Engagement and overall experience for fans is considered for facility renovations and upcoming projects. heeke

“Everything is considered, from parking to ticketing to energizing and entertaining the crowds. We look at how people want to spend their time with us.”
He says they just completed a $66 million investment into their facilities with a new indoor sports center, renovation on the east side of their stadium with new concourse, restrooms and seating, new competitive swimming pool and new softball stadium.

“The biggest project on the horizon for us is a remodel, really a rebuild of the west side of our football stadium,” Heeke explained. “That will be a $100-$200 million-dollar effort. With amenities and fan engagement considered, we can’t do that with what we have currently. We are working through the plans now.”

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