Cronkite Header

Cronkite News has moved to a new home at Use this site to search archives from 2011 to May 2015. You can search the new site for current stories.

With VP hire, Sun Devil Athletics expands focus on revenue

Email this story
Print this story

TEMPE – University athletic departments are traditionally the realm of X’s and O’s. But with a $256 million stadium renovation in the works and tens of millions in annual revenue, Sun Devil Athletics at Arizona State University is expanding its focus on dollars and cents.

Earlier this year, the school hired Greg McElroy, a former senior vice president for the Dallas Cowboys, to the new position of vice president and business development officer for the athletic department.

McElroy, whose ASU salary is $350,000 a year, is tasked with increasing revenues. That’s something he’s done with several sports franchises, including leading negotiations for the naming rights to AT&T Stadium, home of the Cowboys, in a deal worth an estimated $17 million to $19 million a year. He also negotiated naming rights to the Texas Rangers’ new stadium.

McElroy’s project at ASU is similar to his experiences with professional teams, but he said the day-to-day feel of the job isn’t.

“My goal of getting up and going to work every day was to make the owner as much money as I possibly can, and I did a pretty good job of that over the years,” he said. “But now it’s not about that. It’s about selling as much as we can so we can enrich these student athletes and students’ lives to give them great facilities and give them great experiences in college.”

McElroy has been in the business of sports marketing since 1991, starting with the Los Angeles Kings hockey team. He worked with the Texas Rangers as executive vice president, was the sales officer for the Los Angeles Dodgers and spent nine years with the Cowboys.

Ray Anderson, ASU’s vice president for university athletics and athletics director, knew McElroy from his days in the NFL’s front office. He said McElroy has proven his ability to increase revenues through sources such as sponsorships, suite sales and promotions.

“He was really one of the very best in the whole NFL,” he said. “I figured that if Greg heard the vision that we had for ASU he would be enticed, and indeed he was.”

McElroy’s ability to think more aggressively than others at the college level also made him the right man for the job, Anderson said.

“Traditional collegiate people have maybe been in one kind of environment that Greg being in a more frankly aggressive environment at the pro level could bring some of those experiences and that mindset to Arizona State,” Anderson said.

Sun Devil Athletics reported $65.7 million in revenue as well as a subsidy of $10 million during the 2012-2013 school year.

McElroy said he was ready to make the transition from professional sports to the college level and plans to stay.

“He asked me if I would be interested in coming to ASU,” McElroy said. “I didn’t even think twice about it. I said, ‘Absolutely.’”

As he was with the Cowboys, ASU has tasked McElroy with developing a football stadium – in this case a renovation of Sun Devil Stadium that’s expected to be completed in 2017. While the team isn’t building a new facility, according to McElroy, it’s more than just a face-lift.

“We’re calling it the reinvention of the stadium versus renovation,” he said. “We’re really going to transform the way the stadium is used, the way it looks and really bring it into the 21st century as to the amenities and the technology.”

School officials want the renovated stadium used for more than just football.

“We’re looking into a venue for the entire student body,” he said. “We want to be able to play other events there, other sports there, other academic events there, maybe hold classes there, maybe exhibits – just a lot of different things.”

Plans for funding the project could include selling naming rights, suites and club seats, McElroy said.

“There will be a lot of different amenities, so hopefully we’ll be able to sell at a price that will generate enough revenue and additional sponsorships that will be able to pay for this thing,” he said. “There’s not a doubt in my mind that we’ll be able to; it will be self-funding.”