After a Successful Year, UCR Athletics Association Looks to Continue Growth in 2013–14

Goals for 2013-14 include growing membership, continuing to improve fan experience

packed grandstand during soccer game

Fans pack the UCR Soccer Stadium for a men’s soccer game during the 2012 season. Photo courtesy of UCR Athletics Media Relations

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( — One of the biggest accomplishments for the UCR Intercollegiate Athletics Department took place off of the competition field in 2012–13.

The UC Riverside Athletics Association (UCRAA), the official support organization for the UC Riverside Intercollegiate Athletics program, saw a more-than-two-fold increase in its membership during the 2012–13 academic year. And Senior Associate Athletics Director Eric Buskirk is aiming higher for 2013–14.

“Our goal is to reach 1,000 members annually,” Buskirk said. “We have made great strides from the 379 members that we had in the 2011–12 season, but we can do more.”

Funds raised by the Athletics Association go to fund scholarships, facilities, equipment, as well as provide support in other areas that provide support for student-athlete success.

“There are some who might say that Riverside isn’t a good sports town, but I don’t think that is true,” he said. “We have made a commitment to the fan experience by adding new amenities and features to the games. I believe that if provide fun, affordable, entertainment, and then people will come out and will want to become part of the UCR Athletics Association family.

“We have established a strategic plan to make significant strides with our external units, and I am very happy with our progress thus far.  We are very excited for what the future holds, as we continue to grow our fan and donor base”, says Director of Athletics Brian Wickstrom.

One can become a member of the Athletics Association through a gift of any size. Donors who reach certain levels of giving are eligible for an escalating series of benefits including logo wear, access to special hospitality areas, season tickets and more.

Buskirk said that some of the increase was due to a pair of marketing campaigns, “You’re Our #1 Recruit” and “Who is Your +1?” Both campaigns were designed to raise awareness of UCR athletics and encourage fans to get their friends and neighbors involved.

In 2013–14, the department will also once again sell their UCR Faculty/Staff All-Sports Pass. Available in the fall and costing just $50, the pass provides admission to 100 regular season home athletics events throughout the school year.

“We sold about 100 of the all-sports passes this past year,” Buskirk said. “In time, I hope we can get to the 1,000 mark.”

eating food at table

Fans enjoying pre-game food and drink before a UC Riverside Women’s Volleyball game in Fall 2012. Photo courtesy of UCR Athletics Media Relations

The department will also continue to appeal to the UCR community by continuing its popular “Dean’s Night” promotions, where each or UCR’s colleges were invited out to a men’s or women’s basketball games in their honor. The events included pre-game chalk talks, halftime activities, and post-game receptions.

“’The Dean’s Nights’ were a great success. People had a lot of fun coming out and spending the evening with co-workers and their families and just having a little fun,” Buskirk said.

The department also worked on bettering the fan experience through improvements to UCR athletics venues. One such improvement was the new “Baseball Pavilion” at the Riverside Sports Complex. A $500 donation provided two guests admission to all home baseball games and unlimited food and drink, including beer, on a covered patio just behind first base.

“The seats are as close to the field as you can get. It’s a great experience for fans of Highlander baseball,” he said.

The pavilion expansion was paid for through specific donations for facility improvements. Other work included improvements to the baseball facility restrooms, enhancements to the UCR Soccer Stadium, lockers for the softball team and the renovation of Hall of Champions in theAthletics and Dance Building.

“We couldn’t have done these projects without the generous donations of our fans,” Buskirk said, adding that the UCRAA also received substantial donations from the Fay and Vanderpool families that will go to support athletic scholarships. “We have several projects in the queue for 2013–14, including baseball video equipment, a baseball weight room and additional locker room upgrades, and a staff box at the soccer stadium.”

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Additional Contacts

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