Updated Jan 30, 2013 - 2:10 pm
Synthetic turf will accompany Lowell-Stevens football facility additon
The University of Arizona announced recently that along with the addition of the Lowell-Stevens football facility to the north end of Arizona Stadium, new synthetic turf would also be installed to replace the natural grass playing surface.
The installation is expected to begin Feb. 1 and should be completed by Aug. 1. The Wildcats' first home game of the 2013 season is Aug. 30 against NAU.
The same company that is overseeing the Lowell-Stevens construction, Mortenson Construction, won the bidding last week to also construct the turf field. The cost of the turf field is around $1 million.
"Having a turf field will give us flexibility," assistant athletics director Suzy Mason said. "During the monsoon season, days and weeks of practices are sometimes missed because the grass is unplayable."
Arizona Athletics also wanted to make sure that the field would always look game day ready, as it makes it easier for recruits to better visualize what the stadium and field will look like during the games.
Mason couldn't give much insight into what the new turf field would look like but she did say it would have a "strong Arizona feel."
"I like it," junior Chris Wagner said after learning of the news. "Because it will be a cleaner field without the divots and holes all over. I'd like them to keep the "A" logo and "BearDown" on the sidelines," Wagner said.
FieldTurf is the name of the company that makes the synthetic turf that will be installed at Arizona Stadium. Arizona selected "FieldTurf Revolution with Cool Play" as the type of turf, which Mason said was a perfect fit for the hot Tucson summer and fall seasons.
"Water cannons will be available sub-surface to allow for some cooling measures," Mason said. "Also, the cool play cork infill has the potential to reduce the heat emanating from the turf surface."
Thirteen NFL teams have FieldTurf installed in their stadiums and Pac-12 schools Washington and Oregon also have used FieldTurf.
Mason said she doesn't believe there are any environmental issues that come with a synthetic turf nor does she believe any will arise, but she is confident that they would be taken care of if there were any.
One conflict that the university will have to deal with is the May 11 commencement, which will be held at Arizona Stadium this year. Plans are to put the turf installation on hold around May 1 and then carry on construction after graduation.
"I'm not sure how graduation will look right now," Mason said. "But given that it's an entirely new field surface, preparations will start in February and go till graduation and the carpet [turf] itself will be down in July."
Since the field isn't expected to be ready until Aug. 1, the Wildcats will play their spring football game outside of Arizona Stadium for the second straight year. Last season Arizona played their spring game at Kino Stadium, this year the game will stay on campus and will be played at Kindall-Sancet Stadium. The university has not announced a date for the game.
While the turf isn't expected to be ready until August, the university believes the Lowell-Stevens facility will be completed by early July.
Mason said everything is still going as planned and expects the football team to start moving into Lowell-Stevens by the July deadline, when the season kicks off. Ultimately, the new Arizona Stadium is starting to take shape.
"Contractors are getting ready to pull down the tower cranes," Mason said. "And with the building now nearly fully enclosed, the interior will take shape quickly in the next five months."
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