Ballgames fuel alumni recruitment effort

By Gus Bode

In an effort to recruit more members and donors, two SIUC groups are headed to the ballpark this summer.

The SIU Alumni Association will host “SIU Day” at St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs games July 25 and August 19, respectively. The SIU Foundation, the university’s chief fundraising unit, will host a similar event at a Chicago White Sox game June 9.

Although the Cubs ended up with the worst record in the National League last year, they still manage to sell out most of their games, making it a lot easier for the Alumni Association to recruit members, said Ed Buerger, executive director of the Alumni Association.

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Buerger said about 30,000 alumni live in the Chicago area and many join the association to attend one of the baseball games.

“There are some that join the association primarily to have the opportunity to get that ticket,” he said.

The Alumni Association usually sells the Cubs tickets in only a few hours, Buerger said. There are 1,500 tickets available this year.

“Those tickets will go out as quickly as we can handle the phone calls,” he said.

Thanks to events such as the baseball games, the Alumni Association has increased its membership by 3.4 percent, Buerger said.

He said the association has more than 17,538 members out of 214,000 alumni all over the world. About 900 members are students.

Buerger said the tickets for the Cardinals game at Busch Stadium, which also requires Alumni Association membership, would sell out quickly, too. He said Busch Stadium provided 300 tickets.

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Events such as the ballgames are not unusual, as the association held 61 events geared at recruitment in 2006, Buerger said.

Bryan Vagner, director of the SIU Foundation, said there are no restrictions to go to the White Sox game because the team doesn’t have as large of a fan base as the other teams.

He said the event would be filled with entertainment, which includes a tailgate before the game, and there would be 400 tickets available in the upper deck.

Argus Tong, director of alumni programs, said the events are a great way to increase membership.

“Not only students, but also alums and that’s a way we increase membership growth,” he said. “We have an alum represented in every single state, so wherever you go there are Salukis, so we make it a point to get out there as often as we can.”

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