FLAGSTAFF — The Arizona Board of Regents on Thursday unanimously approved the University of Arizona’s 2019-2021 Capital Improvement Plan, which includes a $66 million upgrade to campus sports facilities as requested by UA athletic director Dave Heeke.
Improvements include $25 million to renovate the stadium’s east side, ground-level seats and ZonaZoo, $18 million to build an indoor practice facility that will also function as a community engagement center, $15 million to dig up and rebuild the Hillenbrand Aquatic Center, $8 million to renovate the Hillenbrand Softball Stadium and $1.5 million to upgrade McKale Center.
Funding for the $66 million series of projects would be helped by the upcoming student fee and donor contributions, with the rest paid over time and with Pac-12 media rights revenue, as was the case with the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility and McKale Center renovations.
Originally built in 1928 to seat 7,000 fans, Arizona Stadium has grown to a 55,000-plus capacity. The aging facility, however, has long been a source of frustration among athletic department officials. Phase 1 of the Arizona Stadium overhaul should ease at least some of the burden on the old stadium. Crews are expected to break ground in January.
UA football coach Rich Rodriguez has wanted an indoor practice facility for years, in part so his team can practice during August and September without dealing with excessive heat and rain. The facility, which will be built on the old Kindall/Sancet Stadium site, would double as a gathering place for UA fans and donors. The $18 million practice facility will have a 90-yard field and ceiling height of 65 feet. Construction will begin in May.
The Hillenbrand Aquatic Center renovations will start in April, and cost $15 million. Crews will repair the 50-meter pool and plumbing infrastructure.
The $8 million softball stadium renovation will begin in June. The UA says the project will upgrade "a number of amenities for both the team and fans." Crews will also upgrade the McKale Center locker rooms at a cost of $1.5 million. Construction there will begin in January.