Skybox offers students a view from the top

(Beacon File Photo)

Rico Albarracin/ Staff Writer

There is a room with a view that exists on campus. A room that is rarely used but in clear sight. This room is at the stadium.

Various athletic venues are available for students to use, such as the R. Kirk Landon Fieldhouse, but a much lesser known athletic facility is available: FIU Stadium Executive Suite 221, known colloquially as the SGA skybox.

Use of the skybox, like other athletic venues, came about when Athletics requested an increase to the athletic fee – during the 2007-2008 academic year.

“We knew we needed to support them because of what was going on in athletics at the time,” said Arthur “AJ” Meyer, vice president of the Student Government Council at Modesto Maidique Campus at the time of the agreement.

When Meyer proposed the skybox purchase the Golden Panthers football team played their home games at the Miami Orange Bowl 1-23 in their previous two seasons.

“We believed in the impact of the football program on both the University’s academic and social standing,” Meyer said in an interview with Student Media.

The agreement made in 2007 was passed as a three-year proposition to spend $90,000 for use of the skybox. The skybox was paid off in $30,000 intervals over three years.

The SGC at the Biscayne Bay Campus rejected an alternate proposal which consisted of a four-year contract that stipulated the payment of $20,000 for the first and second year, and $40,000 for the third and fourth year for use of the skybox.

After the three-year mark passed, SGA had the option of renewing the contract at the then-current market price, according to Meyer, which was $30,000. This was done to ensure upcoming student leaders would not have to pay a price above that amount.

“We did that to watch out for future generation of student leaders,” Meyer said.

According to a separate agreement made on April 15, 2011 between the Business Office of FIU Athletics and Pete Garcia, executive director of sports and entertainment, Athletics will pay $40,000 a year to the FIU Athletics Finance Corporation to license the skybox. The skybox agreement is contingent on the renewal that is to take place every three years. The license agreement will continue in effect until June 30, 2014.

The skybox is made available to SGA for all home football games “for the purpose of strengthening the relationship between FIU Athletics and the student body,” according to the skybox agreement on April 15, 2011.

“We used the skybox for meetings,” Meyer said of how the skybox was used during his tenure. “And to to bring in potential supporters, such as Florida Rep. Anitere Flores.”

According to Eric Arneson, assistant vice president of student affairs, the SGC-MMC president has up to 15 tickets that he/she distributes at their discretion.

Multiple attempts to reach Farinas and Pablo Haspel, SGC-BBC president, were made but they did not respond to Student Media as of press time.

According to Donovan Dawson, former SGC-MMC senate speaker, tickets are tough to give away since most students want to partake in the tailgating festivities, particularly drinking alcohol, since no alcoholic beverage consumption is allowed in the stadium suites.

Student can file an application to use the skybox for their meetings or other events. However, according to Arneson, no organizations have requested to use the skybox since it has been made available.

Student organizations wanting to use the skybox for club or organization meetings and events have access to it, along with other athletic facilities on campus, on the condition that the facility in question is not in use.

Jose Toscano, interim director of Campus Life, explained that for a student organization to use one of the facilities, an athletic venue request form, available at the SGC-MMC office in Graham Center 211 must be filled out. The form needs the approval of the current SGC-MMC president, campus life director and Athletics for use of any venue or facility, even the room with a view.

Additional reporting by Philippe Buteau.

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