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January 9, 2013
In less than two weeks, it will be a full year since the groundbreaking ceremony for the $72 million Lowell-Stevens football facility.
At that time, Rich Rodriguez had yet to coach a game for the Wildcats, and excitement about the 2012 season was mixed with a wait-and-see approach. But what was just a mere construction site at Arizona Stadium on Jan. 20, 2011 is now "coming together," Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne told GOAZCATS.com's Evyn Murray on Tuesday.
Earlier in the day, Byrne walked over to the north end zone and saw windows, stairwells, escalators and elevator shafts. The vision plastered on artist renderings was finally starting to make a push toward the projected August move-in.
"We'll start moving in, hopefully, the end of July or first part of August and be in there for next football season," Byrne said.
But there is still a significant ways to go on the project. Approaching the top of the to-do list is the installation of artificial turf. Byrne said a set date to start has yet to be finalized but "it will be this late winter, spring."
Rodriguez's teams at West Virginia and Michigan played on FieldTurf, and he said in May 2011 that some of the biggest advantages compared to natural grass include everyday use and consistency of the surface.
Byrne said that a decision has yet to be made on a company but that the program is looking into "three or four different types."
"They're all good, they're all pretty similar," Byrne added.
The conversations between Rodriguez and Byrne also have included uniform changes for next season. Oregon is widely considered the trendsetter for college football's recent obsession with flamboyant jerseys, helmets, gloves and shoes that catch the eye of recruits.
In eight home games, the Wildcats never wore the same uniform combination more than once. The rotation of helmets included the debut of copper and return of red to the mix in 2012, generating some national buzz despite missing the October 2011 cutoff to place an order through Nike for the following season.
At the time, the Wildcats were still without a head coach and Rodriguez was not hired until the following month. This time around, Arizona made sure to not miss out - although, Byrne remained tight-lipped on specific modifications.
"In the not-so-distant future, you'll be hearing some information from us on that," Byrne said.