University of Arizona’s east side is one big construction zone right now, as five different projects are ongoing to upgrade the school’s athletic facilities.
There’s the building of the new Indoor Sports Center, the overhaul of the east side of Arizona Stadium, the facelift to softball’s Hillenbrand Stadium, the upgrades to the Hillenbrand Aquatic Center, and then the improvement to McKale Center’s locker rooms.
“We’ve got five different projects going on all at once that somehow are all going to get done by the time next year comes around,” UA athletic director Dave Heeke said Thursday.
That sounds overwhelming, but Heeke assured that all the projects are on schedule, though he joked that the Arizona Stadium renovations might come down to the wire. UA’s home-opener is Sept. 1, just two months away.
“We might be sweeping the floors and painting a few things right before we kick off against BYU,” Heeke said. “But yeah, we’ll be ready to go in the football stadium.”
One dilemma the UA has is figuring out where the football team, which usually opens fall camp in late July or early August, will practice in the meantime.
The ISC is being built on top of the team’s usual practice fields (or at least one of them) and it isn’t expected to be completed until “November-ish,” Heeke said.
Meanwhile, Arizona Stadium, the team’s alternative practice area, is also a construction zone, so Heeke said there have been “a lot” of planning sessions regarding available field space.
Heeke said Arizona Stadium will still be usable during construction, while Bear Down Field — the turf recreation field just north of the stadium — will be available as well.
“There’s also some options that we could go across the street if we needed to,” Heeke said, likely referring to Dave Sitton Field, which is attached to the UA rec center and hosts UA lacrosse and men’s soccer. “We’ll also be moving quickly to replace those grass fields (by the ISC) while the construction continues.
“So we’ve got a plan that we think we can accommodate our football team throughout the summer and fall. They’ll be in a good place.”