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The Game Changer

When Arizona announced the Lowell Stevens Football Facility, it was called a “game changer.” For most fans it was hard to envision what enclosing the endzone and building the adjoining football facility could mean. After the media was afforded the opportunity to tour the jobsite, it is clear that the facility essentially reinvents how Arizona football operates.

You have to use a lot of imagination to envision exactly what the facility will look like. Right now it is all exposed ceilings and unfinished concrete. You cannot see any of the trappings that will make the facility a sight to behold, but just the shear scope of the project lets you know that this is something completely new. The lobby portion is currently bigger than the football offices.

When I first started covering the Wildcats, they had yet to build the Hall of Champions or renovate the football offices. The weight room during the Tomey era was not as nice as the one at your local YMCA. I’d venture to guess that most local gyms today have better equipment than the old Wildcat weight room.

When Arizona built the new weight room/facility in the early 2000’s it brought the Wildcat facilities into the 21st century, but there were still issues. The weight room and locker room and equipment room were all close together inside McKale, but they did not adjoin. The football offices were on the opposite side of the Arena and on the outside. Coaches’ offices were small, heck the recruiting coordinator’s office was little more than a glorified closet.

Meeting rooms were in a different part of McKale and could be cramped. The locker room was set up so that not every player could be seen by the coach if he was addressing the players while they sat at their lockers.

The new facility will put nearly everything in one place. The first two floors will be mostly areas for the players and the support staff. The weight room and training rooms take up the bulk of the first floor, while the second floor sees the Cardio area, the equipment staff and areas for the players.

The third floor will house the coaches’ offices, meeting rooms, the players’ lounge and even a new media area for press conferences.

The fourth and fifth floors will be used by the fans on game day, but will also house places to eat for student athletes.

What the facility shows is that football is a priority. The facility is first class and, in effect, brings the program up to code. In the arms race that is college athletics, this shows that Arizona wants to compete with the big boys.

Lowell Stevens is also very well thought out. Everything makes sense. Everything that connects, should connect. When the weight room opened it was a big deal to have medical facilities connect to the weight room. Now they will still connect, but the equipment room, the stadium and the practice field will all connect. The players’ lounge is near the coaches’ offices, so players have a place to relax between meetings, film sessions and practice. They will have their own space, but be close enough that coaches can keep tabs on them.

Look below for pictures and videos from the tour.

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