FHSU Tiger Auction aims to be bigger, better at new location

Lewis Field Rendering

By Diane Gasper-O'Brien
University Relations and Marketing
HAYS, Kan. - Expectations surrounding the success of Fort Hays State University athletics have been consistently building since the Tigers joined the elite MIAA conference in 2006.

That excitement continues heading into the 2017-18 school year, which will kick off with the annual Tiger Auction and Dinner on Aug. 26. Auction proceeds, which average about $200,000 each year, go to Tiger Athletics.

This year's auction will be held at a new location and will be highlighted by donations for a long-awaited upgrade to scoreboards.

Each year, a specific item of need for the athletic department is designated as Item No. 40 at the auction.

Proceeds this year from Item 40 will go toward the purchase of enhancements for a new video scoreboard at Lewis Field Stadium and a real-time results board at the FHSU Track and Field Complex. These enhancements will include upgraded packages to run on the video boards and a limestone structure to enclose the video board at Lewis Field.

Tiger fans will be able to donate money for Item 40 in an athletic atmosphere, as the site of the 2017 auction is the Schmidt-Bickle Indoor Training Facility.

The 50,000 square-foot facility accommodates considerably more people than the 450 maximum who could attend the auction in each of its first seven years in the Fort Hays Ballroom of the Memorial Union.

"It's an athletic facility, so it's an excellent venue," FHSU Athletic Director Curtis Hammeke said of the indoor facility that features a 65-yard turf field.

Air conditioning for the event will be provided by United Rentals and should provide a comfortable temperature for all auction attendees.

"I think it's going to be a really good atmosphere," Hammeke said, "and the sound system in there is great."

Hammeke said that the extra room has allowed the auction committee to invite parents of student-athletes to the event, "something we haven't had the space to do in the past."

Tickets - on sale both through the athletic department at (785) 628-4050 or online at tigerauction.org - are $75 per person. That will include a dinner buffet and drinks throughout the evening. Doors will open at 4:30 p.m., with dinner beginning at 5:30. The committee suggests purchasing tickets by Aug. 18 to help facilitate planning for the event.

The fundraiser will include about 100 other items in the live auction, several that are "Tigerized" - adorned with black and gold colors, the university name or the Victor E. Tiger mascot logo, or all three. Additionally, there will be about 200 items in the silent auction.

Some of the most popular items, Hammeke said, are group dinners, trips, novelty items and co-coach-of-the-day experiences. Items over the years have ranged from TVs to golf clubs to refrigerators and lawn mowers.

"The committee does a really good job of soliciting a lot of different items," he said. "There are fun things and useful things."

The ability to watch replays at football and basketball games has gained a lot of interest in recent years as video boards have sprung up across the MIAA.

A new scoreboard with large video screens on all four sides is being installed this summer in Gross Memorial Coliseum. GMC is home to the steadily improving FHSU volleyball team; the Tiger men's and women's basketball teams, which have qualified for the NCAA Division II playoffs numerous times; and the Tiger wrestling squad, which has enjoyed a four-year run of seven All-America performances.

The generous donation for the new GMC scoreboard came from a family of FHSU boosters who wish to remain anonymous. Tiger fans will get their first glimpse of that scoreboard in use at the volleyball team's home opener on Sept. 22.

Adding to the excitement of Fort Hays State athletics has been the success of the Tiger football program in recent years, drawing more and more fans to Lewis Field Stadium. In Chris Brown's first five years as head coach, FHSU improved its record by one more victory than the previous season.

The Tiger football team posted back-to-back 8-4 seasons in 2015 and '16, tying the school record for most wins in a season. Fort Hays State also advanced to bowl games both those years, claiming its first bowl championship last fall. Construction on the new scoreboard at Lewis Field Stadium will begin at the conclusion of the 2017 season.

The new track and field facility - which last spring helped produce several All-Americans, including a national champion - will be dedicated at 2 p.m. on the day of the Tiger Auction and Dinner.

"It's going to be a full day, looking forward to it," Hammeke said. "The auction is a great kickoff event to get the year started."

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