August 2017

Panther Family,

#BeTheChange

Twenty-one or “Three touchdowns and three successful conversions” days away from the opening of Parker H. Petit Field at Georgia State Stadium.  Man, that name sounds awesome!  Thank you, Mr. Petit!  Thousands of future Georgia State student-athletes will benefit from your generosity.  Talk about #BeTheChange with one selfless act.  Every day on a college campus, we create the American dream for kids and it takes selfless people and selfless actions to make this reality come true.

It’s a great start to the 2017-2018 Georgia State athletics year.  It’s an exciting time around campus with the start of our fall seasons and the stadium’s opening.  This past year was another successful campaign for the Panthers, highlighted by our second-straight win in the GSU-GS Rivalry Series, an outstanding academic performance by our student-athletes, and conference championships in men’s tennis and men’s golf.

As we focus on this season, expectations for competitive success are real for each of our teams, starting this fall.  We are fortunate to have coaches who are leaders as well as great people.  Please make every effort to come watch our teams compete as your presence matters greatly to our students and coaches.

#BeTheChange

Certainly, the opening of Parker H. Petit Field at Georgia State Stadium provides unparalleled exposure for the University and Georgia State Football.  I can recite multiple facts and figures about impressions, likes, retweets, stories, etc. related to the stadium’s opening for FanFest on Thers’day, August 17; however, these exciting and often mind-boggling numbers are only entertaining ACTIVITY if they don’t create ACTION.  What do I mean by ACTION? Simple, give to the University (selfishly Athletics), purchase tickets, and enjoy the experience.

#BeTheChange

We must exponentially grow our fan base.  I understand that winning football and men’s basketball teams are key.  The great story is that our data from the past several weeks show us that Georgia State fans exist in large numbers.  #BeTheChange by purchasing tickets and coming to the games.  I have zero doubts that this team will compete and play with great energy.  The game day experience in our own stadium will be fantastic.  Give this experience a chance.  Buy your tickets!

Georgia State University alums and friends must start financially giving back to the area of their choice at the University.  Through our mission and the great life story being created on our campus every day, Georgia State University is generating tremendous external financial support. For example, Vice President for Research James Waymeyer and the faculty at GSU are annually generating more than $150 million in research grants; Vice President Tim Rennick’s “Student Success Model” is an international leader in academic programming and earns over $30 million in funding; and Vice President Walter Massey leads the GSU Foundation, which generated over $50 million in gifts last year.  While all these are remarkable, less than 25% of these gifts come from GSU alumni or friends.  President Mark Becker leads remarkable changes that must translate into consistent and enhanced financial giving by GSU alumni and friends.  Mr. Petit’s transformative gift is greatly appreciated and, hopefully, it spurs others to give in a comparative manner.  Naming opportunities exist throughout the stadium and our other facilities for those who are interested.  Panther Athletic Club annual giving is also a point of emphasis for us in Athletics.  Besides improving the competitive success of our football program, my other hope from Georgia State Stadium is for our fan base to understand that in addition to providing scholarship support for student-athletes, giving to build competitive facilities is paramount for all our teams to succeed.  Facilities matter in this ultra-competitive athletics world and, again, we will be as good as those who give, want us to be.  Remember, every gift matters and every gift is appreciated.  The best opportunity for new donors is to give at the level that allows for dual membership in the GSU Alumni Association and Panther Athletic Club.

#BeTheChange

Why are these important?  Again, it’s simple.  We must outgrow the mentality that the University will provide Athletics the financial support for scholarships, operations, and facilities.  What does this mean?  Last year, the University System of Georgia mandated a cap on University revenues that athletics programs can utilize in its operations.  Our cap is 65% of expenses.  We are currently above that.  In simple terms, just to maintain current spending levels, we must self-generate approximately $10 million annually.  We currently generate a little more than half this amount.  To me, #BeTheChange means help Athletics meet this goal.

One, I’m not interested in scheduling 2-3 “money” games in football to make the math work.  I would rather work to schedule program building (and hopefully ticket sales creating) home-and-home series with teams like Memphis, Army, UNC, and Vanderbilt, who are on our future schedules.

Two, Georgia State Stadium provides us additional corporate marketing opportunities that I am confident our partners with Van Wagner Sports and Entertainment will capitalize on for our benefit.  Just three years ago, athletics’ sponsorship efforts resulted in $400,000 in corporate marketing revenue. Our 2017-2018 goal is $1.5 million.

Three, as mentioned previously, ticket sales must grow.  As hopefully, all GSU fans understand, a great one game crowd does not sustain itself.  I also believe that our experiences of the past seven years demonstrate that tickets with little value create little demand.  I believe in the energy Coach Elliott and his staff put into this program daily.  Combining that with the game day experience we will provide at Georgia State Stadium, our ticket prices, and especially our season ticket prices, are fair.  Our mini-plan and single game ticket prices reflect a similar belief that the game day experience at Georgia State Stadium will exceed everyone’s expectations while protecting the commitment made by and value to our season ticket buyers.

Four, increased attendance and control of the stadium allow us to grow ancillary revenues like parking, concessions, and merchandise.  Our parking charges and concession pricing are below market rates.  We recognize the challenge of finding GSU gear at mass retail, so we eliminated this barrier with two options.  One, there is an incredible selection, especially Under Armour gear, in the ShopGeorgiaStateSports.com retail store.  Two, for those who want to buy and wear, check out the new Stadium Store, which will be open for FanFest.  Buying new gear is not only makes you stylish, but you help our brand building and revenue generation efforts.

#BeTheChange

This starts at FanFest and continues next on Opening Night, Thers’day, August 31.  We are fortunate to have our own football stadium.  It sounds cliché, but we are very excited.  It is the start of an athletics plan that will blow away the past GSU experience.

Finally, I am very proud of many unsung Georgia State heroes for making the stadium experience that you will see come to life.  Over the next couple weeks, we will highlight these people because collectively and individually they deserve special recognition for their efforts over the past few months.  Thousands of hours were committed to making the stadium look like it does.  I also want to thank those of you who participated in our Fan Council.  I hope you appreciate the game day experience as the bulk of it is the result of your comments.

It is an incredibly exciting time in the life of our athletics program.  All the information I discussed is located at GeorgiaStateSports.com. 

Many Thanks!

#BeTheChange!

Charlie Cobb

Director of Athletics

P.S. Wait until you see the locker room...