The construction of a indoor football practice field has been on Arizona’s to-do list for a while. Coach Rich Rodriguez told me in January 2016 “we need one” and then-athletic Greg Byrne said weeks later that he wanted to move sooner rather than later.
On Wednesday, Rodriguez reiterated that an indoor facility is still “our No. 1 priority.”
“The stadium needs some renovations,” he added of projects that will cost north of $100 million to update 89-year-old Arizona Stadium.
“I’m not in the bowels of the stadium. I’m not in the concessions or the restrooms or sitting in those metal bleachers. I know all that has to get upgraded and fixed and modernized.
“But as far as priority No. 1 for me, selfishly and for our program, is an indoor.”
Byrne said last year that programs other than football could benefit from the indoor facility, “such as soccer, softball and baseball, even track could have times training inside of there.”
Rodriguez added that such a structure could be used by fans for tailgating.
For football, the indoor facility would prevent lost time due to monsoon storms during fall camp and, of course, it would be another tool in recruiting.
“Our weather is a huge bonus, but the summer heat is sometimes used against us in recruiting,” Rodriguez said.
“I have been here long enough to know that it never rains. But for the heat and our workouts and all that, I think an indoor is a necessity.”
Now, Arizona just needs the money.
South Carolina completed construction of an indoor facility in November 2015 at a cost of $14.3 million. In January 2105, Florida announced a $15 million indoor project. Houston has started construction on a $20 million facility. Miami has revealed plans for a $34 million indoor facility that will include coaches’ offices and meeting rooms (which would not be something Arizona needed).
Byrne left last month to take the athletic director’s job at Alabama. Erika Barnes is the interim athletic director, and there has been no timetable announced for when Arizona will hire Byrne’s full-time replacement.
“We do need an indoor,” Rodriguez said. “I think everybody I’ve talked understands that; it’s just a matter of getting it together sooner rather than later.”
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