UA FOOTBALL

Arizona football: Pride of the Wildcats

UA hopes new facility will change the 'face of Arizona athletics'
2013-08-02T00:00:00Z 2013-08-16T17:50:58Z Arizona football: Pride of the WildcatsDaniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
August 02, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne arrived at the UA's new Lowell-Stevens Football Facility on Thursday afternoon in a blue shirt and red tie, ready to show off the department's new shining star.

He spared no detail as he directed a tour through the five-story building, which cost $74 million to construct.

A father of two, Byrne talked about the new facility like it was child No. 3.

"This will be a facility that will be used extremely well," Byrne said, "and hopefully something that changes the face of Arizona athletics and Arizona football."

It was easy to see why the boss of the athletic department is so enthusiastic and proud of the 189,000-square foot building.

Starting at the top: The fifth floor includes the Sands Club, an enclosed area for donors. It features a bar, access to new club boxes in the north end zone and an outside patio. The new boxes are for four people and feature flat-screen TVs in every box. There will be a total of 576 seats in the Sands Club, which is not yet sold out.

The fourth floor features access to the new seats in the north end zone. There are a total of 3,483 seats there, complete with access to the new concourse in the north end zone that connects the east and west side of the stadium. It allows fans to loop around easily.

Inside the facility, the fourth floor also features Bear Down Kitchen, which seats 150 people. It will be open on days when there are no games, in the morning and afternoon for all students and the general public. It has a salad bar, a waffle-making station and other amenities with a view of the field.

On game days, the restaurant will be used as a recruiting area.

The third floor hosts coach Rich Rodriguez's office, which is labeled a suite. It also houses all of the coaches' offices and meeting rooms for each position group. The floor is also the site of the team meeting room and players lounge.

The lounge was already in use Thursday with senior cornerback Shane Wilson playing the new NCAA Football 14 on a projection screen.

"They did a great job with the building," Wilson said. "It's very cool compared to where we used to be in McKale Center. It's somewhere different we can all go to hang.

"We definitely appreciate it."

The first level takes up two stories and features the lobby and hall of fame area, the equipment room, locker room and weight room. The weight room has all new equipment, including a state-of-the-art anti-gravity treadmill called the AlterG, allowing players to rehab from major knee injuries easier.

"I've been at Arizona a little more than three years, and the first day I took the job, I went out to spring practice at Arizona Stadium and Coach (Mike) Stoops was there and this was one of the first things we talked about," Byrne said. "Having been around the country and seeing what we're competing against on a regular basis, we knew we had to make a significant improvement to our infrastructure.

"This is the shining example of it."

LB makes commitment

After a couple of days off, the Arizona Wildcats picked up another commitment Thursday for the 2014 class.

Antonio Smothers, a linebacker from Scottsdale Community College, pledged to the UA. His three finalists were Arizona, Kansas State and Miami (Fla.). Smothers is rated as a three-star recruit by the Scout.com recruiting service and as a four-star by Rivals.com.

The linebacker was one of 30 or so recruits on campus last weekend for the opening of Lowell-Stevens and is now the sixth player who was in attendance to commit to Rodriguez and the Wildcats. Smothers is already the fourth junior college commit for 2014 after the UA signed just two for 2013.

Smothers is the 21st commitment for 2014 and the first linebacker to pledge.

Roster additions

The UA has added several nonscholarship players to its roster in advance of fall camp opening on Saturday.

Among the additions are four local players: Safety Jake Matthews (Ironwood Ridge), long snapper Alex Arnaud (Salpointe Catholic), safety Brogan Kemmerly (Salpointe) and defensive lineman Vaughn Fontana (Cienega).

Another name of note is Gerhard De Beer. De Beer is a 6-foot-7-inch, 250-pound defensive lineman from Pretoria, South Africa, who has more experience in track and field as an accomplished shot putter.

On StarNet: See photos from the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility at azstarnet.com/gallery

Season opener

• What: NAU at Arizona

• Where: Arizona Stadium

• When: 7 p.m. Aug. 30 (Friday)

• TV: Pac-12 Arizona

Contact reporter Daniel Berk at 573-4330 or dberk@azstarnet.com. On Twitter @DSBerk

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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