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February 2008

Release Date: February 21, 2008

Junell Center Big on Basketball Playoffs

Angelo State University's Junell Center/Stephens Arena is a mecca for high school basketball playoffs and an economic benefit to the city, as evidenced by the frequent use of the facility by area teams during February.

“Normally, we do about 20 practice or playoff games a season, depending on the schedule,” said Greg Pecina, ASU's executive director for business services. “It gets hot and heavy for about two weeks.”

That's when University Interscholastic League high school basketball playoffs kick into high gear, Pecina said. “It starts about the middle of the month. The boys overlap the girls by one week going into regional.”

Pecina said the Junell Center playoffs average is within two or three games every year. “We have a max. We have to weigh what’s best for ASU's teams, to balance between the Rams and Rambelles and to provide a revenue stream, too.”

Operating expenses for the Junell Center are significant, Pecina said. “It costs $580 a day for electricity.” Hosting UIL basketball playoffs can generate up to $75,000 during the playoffs to offset some of the center's costs.

The big revenue generators both for Angelo State and city businesses are the smaller schools in the West Texas region as opposed to the bigger schools from farther away.

“The biggest crowds we get come in from Wall, Ballinger and Sonora, teams I would consider more local,” Pecina said. “Sometimes 4,000 people show up. Those 1A and 2A schools are unbelievable.”

Pecina said the bigger schools are farther away and, due to the distance, have a smaller following, sometimes as few as 500 fans.

Pamela Miller, vice president of the San Angelo Convention and Visitors Bureau, said that each high school playoff game generates $70,800 for the city. That figure is derived by using a formula based on an anticipated 600 people attending each game with a multiplier of $118 for an overnight stay. “That is a guesstimate,” Miller said. “We’ll know more after the fact.”

“We use these games for recruiting students to ASU,” Pecina said. “Sometimes, it’s their first time here. We hope they’ll like it and come back as college students. It’s a gorgeous facility.”

“We have thousands of people go through the Junell Center in a year,” Pecina said. “Last year, we had 125,000.” He said the numbers include Angelo State games, graduation ceremonies and special events like the recent Harlem Globetrotters appearance.

Pecina said he has no trouble booking the Junell Center/Stephens Arena.

“We don’t market it at all,” he said. “I have 50 coaches calling me to block them in for the playoffs.” He said that if they lose and drop out, he has a waiting list of schools ready to fill the spots.

“We don't hire officials but provide everything else for basketball games,” said Pecina. Sports health personnel are ready in case there are injuries. Business services personnel also provide all of the logistics to put on a playoff game.

Students play a big part in the operation, said Pecina. “We employ 15-18 student workers to operate the clock, scoreboard, sound system and all arrangements that need to be made. The majority of those kids are kinesiology majors. It gives them experience with game administration.”

Pecina said gate receipts cover all of the operating expenses. If there is any money left over, he sends the schools residual checks.

Friday and Saturday, the Junell Center/Stephens Arena will host the 4A Girls' Regional Basketball Tournament. Plainview will play Crowley and Amarillo Palo Duro will play Fort Worth Dunbar. The winners will meet for the championship on Saturday.