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News and notes: Interview with AD Pete Garcia

I had a chance to catch up with FIU athletic director Pete Garcia Friday afternoon. We touched a on  number of different subjects during our chat. I posted a few notes below.

Football

What are a few things FIU fans can look forward to this coming athletic year?

"We are very excited No. 1 with what’s happened with the foundation built by our coaches and our student athletes. Going into this year we are excited about our football program. First time we are playing six games at home. With teams like UCF and Duke coming in it should be an exciting season."

What are some of the plans to continue increasing attendance at football games?

"Attendance went up dramatically last year. We are bringing in higher quality teams. A UCF team that won the conference and an ACC team in Duke. Our student body is getting more involved in the program. ESPN networks are carrying 6 out of our first 8 games. That’s unheard of for our conference."

Ticket sales?

"It’s going to be safe to say we are going to have over 10,000 season tickets sold this year."

Any word on when the next phase of stadium construction will begin?

"We are stating to have discussions in regard about closing off the north side of the stadium," Garcia said.

Garcia was clear that the talks were just beginning and that plans should become more clear in about "six months."

Is the plan to continue using the arena and the stadium for outside events?

"The Arena is used about 95 percent of the time. A lot of it is outside events that bring in money for the athletic department. The Gold Cup is a perfect example. Those revenues also go into the athletic department.We keep increasing it every year. We could still use the stadium more. We have a number of high school games at the stadium including Belen and Columbus."

Men's basketball

Work on the 2011-12 basketball schedule is underway. According to Garcia, the Panthers will be traveling to Maryland and Dayton next season. Dates will be announced sometime this month.

With much speculation in the national media about the future of basketball coach Isiah Thomas, I figured I'd ask Garcia about the possibility of Thomas taking a head coaching job in the association next year.

"[Thomas] is here and he’s working and recruiting. He’s very excited about his upcoming year," Garcia said.

What are some the changes coming to the basketball arena?

 "New lockers. Brand new entrance with suits. Multipurpose rooms that will be used for suits on game day and other University functions when we are not playing."

 Softball

How is the search for a new softball coaching coming along?

"We are doing a national search for the softball coach. We are confident we can find someone that can build on what Beth did and take the program to the next level."

Justin Azpiazu

Follow me on twitter @JustinAzpiazu

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David Neal - why are you wearing a dashiki in your photo? Even Africans only wear dashikis for the tourists...

I wear dashikis for the same weird, wacky, incomprehensible reason I wear Armani suits: I like how they look and feel.

Good post, thanks Justin.

Thanks for the update David

Overcompensating for something: why do you care what someone else is wearing? And, why is DJN responding? Anyways, glad you are here on this blog. Have always enjoyed your writing style.

The north side of the stadium needs to be closed off soon, it's the side that always comes out on TV.

I agree FIU Fan. Unfortunately, the angle which the tv coverage takes place makes our beautiful, cozy stadium looks like a glorified high school stadium.

Either close the stadium ASAP, or for heaven's sake relocate the cameras so they are shooting with the south side as the backdrop.

Seriously, is it that difficult to figure this out and make it happen?

With FAU and North Texas opening their new stadiums, it is very important that ours is completely. I really hope that becomes a priority. Also make sure to have coaches boxes and press boxes that are first rate, remember that these are the people who write about us and speak about us on TV/Radio, you want them to have good things to say.

You would think, that as much as FIU strokes Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, they would at the very least return some kind of favors to the blind following that is the FIU leadership community. How much can the project to close off the north side really cost ? $4 or 5M USD ?

The loyal base that supports this team is not asking for a TAJ MAJAL, just finish the bleachers off and make this 23,000 seat facility the hardest place to play for visiting teams. Any other additions that were associated with the north facade can wait until we need to expand further. ***YES, they film soccer matches from the north side facing south - PLEASE INSTRUCT the FOLKS at ESPN to do the same.

I agree that the North Side of the Stadium needs to be a priority but I think there is a few things that are more important:
1) Teardown the Soccer Stadium and make the New Soccer / Track Stadium

2) Finish the Arena Project before thinking of doing anything else.

3) Close the Football Stadium and make it a 23K-24K stadium. The 45K (upper bowl) can wait a couple years.

4) Start construction on the Alumnie Center.

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