The most expensive construction project in Arizona Wildcats athletic department history was approved Thursday by the Arizona Board of Regents.

The $85.7 million Arizona Stadium north end zone renovation plan will feature the installation of a multistory building that holds 5,000 seats, a luxury loge area, football offices and the Wildcats' locker room.

A new scoreboard will be moved from the north end zone to the south side of the stadium, and new lighting will be installed. Jimenez Practice Facility also will be expanded.

"We're delighted," UA interim athletic director Kathleen "Rocky" LaRose said. "We're excited that the Board of Regents sees the importance of this capital campaign and the north end zone, and we're ready to move forward."

The project was approved without discussion at the regents' meeting Thursday at Arizona State's West Campus.

The project will be paid for entirely with private funds. The UA will enter a "quiet period," LaRose said, in which it will meet with boosters to raise funds for the project. The Wildcats already have a $10 million donation from Jeff and Sharon Stevens earmarked for the project.

"We'll get the momentum going again, and try to do the best we can to move the project," LaRose said.

The first step is finding an architectural design firm, a process that should last until April.

The firm would ideally provide plans by the end of the football season, senior associate athletic director John Perrin said, with construction beginning in spring 2011.

The proposed cost of the project was made when the Wildcats commissioned Sasaki Associates Inc., to conduct a facilities analysis as part of a master construction plan last summer.

"We have a very good indication of how much it's going to cost," LaRose said, "but we need to have exact dollars."

The project will be the largest overhaul of Arizona Stadium since 1989, when skyboxes, loge and press seating was added for $6.3 million.

The videoboard was installed in 1999.

The multistory north end zone structure, under Sasaki's plan, would feature 60,471 square feet of office space, training facilities and football locker rooms. Moving the team from McKale Center would create more room for the other UA programs, all of which are based in the arena.

The proposed structure would also feature 200 premium seats with club amenities and 5,000 seats overall.

Construction on the addition to Jimenez Practice Facility will begin in "three or four weeks," Perrin said, and should be completed by July.

LaRose called football the "greatest possibility for growth in revenue" and said the new project's success will help the athletic department.

"This is just critical for the future of the department," she said.


Key figures in the Arizona Stadium north end zone renovation:

$85.7 million

The cost of the plan, which is the most expensive in the history of the Arizona athletic department

$10 million

A donation from Jeff and Sharon Stevens is already earmarked to the project, which will be paid entirely with private funds.


The last time the stadium had a large overhaul. Skyboxes, loge and press seating were added for $6.3 million.