In addition to the chat, get more information at www.huskieathleticfund.com.
Huskie Athletic Fund Staff Answered Questions on Parking, Benefits and Premium Seating

DeKALB, Ill. - On Monday, NIU Assistant Athletic Director for Annual giving Tim Rice and Associate Athletic Director for Major Gifts Mark Muhlhauser took time to answer your questions about the new Huskie Athletic Fund, plans for "The Yard" at Huskie Stadium, the official pregame tailgate of NIU Athletics, new benefits, football parking and the new premium seating options at Huskie Stadium and the NIU Convocation Center.

Last week, NIU released its season ticket prices for 2014 and the new athletics development microsite at www.huskieathleticfund.com. This week, the season ticket renewal forms and 2014 donor renewals and guides will be mailed to all 2013 season ticket holders and donors. See the complete release with links here.

Thanks to all the fans who sent in questions today and sorry to any we couldn't get to in the hour and 15 minutes of time we had allotted. Below is the complete transcript of today's chat. In addition, we encourage you to read the FAQ now available at huskieathleticfund.com. We will plan another chat in the future so keep tuned to NIUHuskies.com!

Moderator: Getting ready to start the live chat here with guests Tim Rice, Assistant Athletic Director of the Annual Fund and Mark Muhlhauser, Associate Athletic Director for Major Gifts.

James (Chicago): When will I receive my season ticket renewal packet? Will it be separate from the donor renewal packet?
Tim Rice, Huskie Athletic Fund: Hi James, great question. We are working diligently on both renewals - the Huskie Athletic Fund and season tickets. The packets will be mailed separately this week.

Old School , Chicago: Please explain the giving levels for each of the pay parking and when loyalty points will come into play. How long have these loyalty points been accrueing ? Have held season seats and donated since 1978.
Tim Rice, Huskie Athletic Fund: Old School, we appreciate you! On your renewal form, each parking zone is outlined. Each Zone has a minimum donation level. Zone A is at $1,000 minimum, Zone B is $300+ and Zone C is $60+. A detailed parking map is available at huskieathleticfund.com and select football parking. Priority points information for each donor will be mailed to you in May - not in the packets coming this week - and will include the historical information. Once you receive that form, if you have more questions, a dedicated staff member will be available to address priority points questions.

Ed (Downers Grove): What is the status of the Pup club? Are kids tickets no longer free? It's hard for families two bring young kids to games as is and you can't take them at all when there are 2 night games. Now I have to pay for a ticket for two mid week night games I can't even use? Just want to make sure we are not losing touch with the family customer base.
Tim Rice, Huskie Athletic Fund: Hi Ed... information on the new Huskie Pup Club will be included in the season ticket holder renewal packets. Membership is $10 and will include the opportunity to purchase one discounted ticket (for $14) to one home football game in 2014. There will be other benefits including a T-shirt, gift bag, a special invitation to Movie Night and we are working on making the game day atmosphere as family-friendly as possible with the addition of The Kids Zone in The Yard.

Bob (Naperville): Can you explain a little further what "The Yard" is. My company has a tent for at least one game a year. Will that be located in the yard, or somewhere else?
Tim Rice, Huskie Athletic Fund: Great question Bob! The Yard is going to be THE destination for pregame tailgating. It is free and open to the public, opens 2 1/2 hours prior to the game and includes a kids zone, food vendors, live music, a beer garden, and the Champions Club (formerly HASF) Tent. There will be a new location for corporate tents that will be in close proximity to The Yard.

John Naperville: I have heard seat donations count towards your giving level of the new HAF.. Can you confirm or explain this
Tim Rice, Huskie Athletic Fund: John, yes, NEW for 2014... all Huskie Athletic Fund unrestricted, premium seat, and sport-specific gifts WILL count toward your 2014 annual giving level. This is a change from previous years that will maximize your benefits as a donor.

John (Yorkville): 3 Parking questions... Previous years there was an additional $25 fee to obtain a parking pass on top of donating at a specific level...Will there be a fee like this for the donor parking lots this year? What is the allocation process & cost to obtain the 2nd parking pass at the $1000 & $300 levels? Will the $300 & $60 parking lots be oversold as was the practice the previous years. If so where would those extra pass holders be directed?
Tim Rice, Huskie Athletic Fund: Hi John... that's a lot of questions but here you go... Yes, the $25 parking fee remains and will be included on your season ticket renewal form. New for 2014, the RV parking fee will be $100 (value of four spots). The cost for the second pass is the same. For example, if someone wants two passes in Zone A, their annual giving total would need to be a minimum donation of $2000. We will not oversell any lot this year!

Shelley (Bartlett): I saw the creation of the Nelson Club for basketball late in the season. Are you guys going to continue that next year and will there be something like that for football season?
Tim Rice, Huskie Athletic Fund: Shelley, we did have success with the Nelson Club and will actually sell season passes to the Nelson Club for men's basketball next year. For football, we're excited to be able to create the Coaches Club within the West Side of Huskie Stadium. This new premium hospitality area will feature flat screen TVs, an expanded food buffet, cash bar and private restrooms. There will be a limited number of season passes sold for the Coaches Club and interest level is already high!

Emmett (Chicago): Are you guys going to wrap the seats around the football end zone?
Mark Muhlhauser, Associate Athletic Dire: Hello Emmett... this is Mark Muhlhauser and this question is a little more in my wheelhouse. The additions of the Yordon Center and Chessick Practice Center have been key to the continued success of our football program. Improving Huskie Stadium is a priority for the athletic department and we will be exploring all options toward enhancing the facility in the near future.

Erik Naperville: Will there be better policing of seat raiding(stealing seats if people don't show). Nothing more annoying than donating money for better seats to see people sit in front of you who don't belong there.
Mark Muhlhauser, Associate Athletic Dire: Hi Erik... you are right, that is annoying and we want to protect our donors and loyal fans. This actually goes along with our new customer service philosophy that Senior Associate Athletic Director John Cheney and his staff are developing right now and that you will see in all of our facilities in 2014. We know that this has been a problem in both football and basketball. Our ushers will take a proactive approach to ensure fans are using the tickets they purchased.

John (Aurora): I currently have season tickets for 4 regular seats. If I want chairbacks and send in the required donation ($500) and the chairbacks are not available, how do I get my $500 donation back?
Tim Rice, Huskie Athletic Fund: John, thanks for your question and your interest in upgrading. While seat upgrades and new seat requests are not guaranteed, we will do everything we can to fulfill your request. If the seats are not available after the May 30 renewal deadline, we will call you and offer the opportunity to allocate your gift to another premium area such as Coaches Club or benchback seats. Per IRS regulations, tax deductible gifts are non-refundable. Please know that your gift makes a difference.

Erik Naperville: Can we expect the Champions Club(HASF Tent) to be similar to years past?
Tim Rice, Huskie Athletic Fund: Erik.. the new Champions Club will take the pregame donor hospitality to the next level. Donors at the Pride Level and above will have access to pregame hospitality with flat screen TVs, featured appearances by Huskie Legends, a full cash bar and appetizers. It will be like a mini-sports bar centrally located in the Yard.

Brad (Wisconsin): Spring sports encourage sport-specific donations in November-December, so we just made a donation. How does this apply to this new fund?
Tim Rice, Huskie Athletic Fund: Brad, on behalf of our coaches and student-athletes, Thank You for your commitment to NIU. Your sports specific gift will count toward your 2014 annual giving level. All sports-specific gifts are part of the Huskie Athletic Fund and there is a link on the huskieathleticfund.com website where you can indicate which sport or sports you want your gift to help.

John (Yorkville): How many ticket has Northwestern agreed to allocate to NIU?
Tim Rice, Huskie Athletic Fund: John, this is a great question because it give me an opportunity to talk about the Early Signing Period. They gave us a generous allotment, however, due to the anticipated large demand for this game and the number of NIU alumni and Huskie Athletic Fund donors in the Chicagoland area, we believe they will sell out. In order to guarantee your tickets in the NIU sections, we are urging our loyal fans to renew their season tickets prior to the Early Signing Period which ends April 30. #Commit2NIU

Mark (Oak Park): As a donor I like to park guaranteed on the West side of the stadium. Assume I'm at the proper donation level how do I know points wise where I rank compared to other donors where I know I can continue to park on the West side?
Tim Rice, Huskie Athletic Fund: Mark, awesome! When you receive your Huskie Athletic Fund renewal, please indicate your lot preference on the form. After the May 30th renewal deadline, we will allocate all requests, first based on 2014 annual giving level and then on priority points within each giving level. In addition, your priority point summary will come to you in May and will give you a better idea of where you rank compared to other donors.

Old School, Chicago: Thanks for the answer. Can someone designate a particular lot within a donation category for parking, ie. donate $1000 and designate West vs. East lot in order to keep their tailgating friends together?
Tim Rice, Huskie Athletic Fund: The answer is Yes. On your renewal form, each lot is listed. Be sure to indicate your preference and list the name of your tailgate buddies. All Zone A spots are reserved so it's important to keep this in mind and to meet the May 30 deadline. Check out the NEW FAQ posted today on huskieathleticfund.com on the About Us drop down tab.

John (Yorkville): Are multiple parking passes once again being offered?
Tim Rice, Huskie Athletic Fund: John, yes. Donors in Zone A and Zone B can request up to two passes depending on giving total. For Zone C, one pass can be requested. Remember, there is a $25 charge for each pass ($100 for RVs).

Erik Naperville: How will the donor "support card" work?
Tim Rice, Huskie Athletic Fund: Erik, the 2014 Proud Supporter Card is our way of saying thank you to our donors. The card will include local deals and discounts with NIU Athletics partners. You will receive the card in your benefits packet in June.

John (Aurora): Can you explain the reserved parking? Will donors for the A lots have specifically designated spaces with their names assigned to them?
Tim Rice, Huskie Athletic Fund: John, donors in Zone A will be assigned a numbered spot in one of the three areas. This way, you know that your spot will be waiting for you, even if you show up after some others. You will be mailed a parking pass with a specific number and a map with your location. Each space will measure 18' x 9' with an additional 6' extension for tailgating. This will allow for a 12' clear lane between rows of parking for vehicles arriving later and emergency vehicles.

Erik Naperville: What is the new NIU Experience benefit at the Director Level?
Tim Rice, Huskie Athletic Fund: Erik, thank you for asking. We are excited about adding the NIU Experience to our list of benefits. The NIU Experience is a unique opportunity to work with a Huskie Athletic Fund staff member to develop what would be a individualized and special experience designed especially for you. To create your own NIU Experience, call 815-753-PACK (7225).
Moderator: This has been a great session everyone, thanks to your questions! We are excited about the future of NIU Athletics. If we didn't answer your questions today, there are many way to get in touch and get answers. Check the new huskieathleticfund.com website, including the recently-posted FAQ, ask us on Twitter @Commit2NIU or on Facebook, like NIU Huskie Athletic Fund. You can also call us at 815-753-PACK (7225). We look forward to doing this again soon with Huskie Athletic Fund staffers and Sean T. Frazier.