Sports News
UA Basketball


news Sports Opinions arts variety interact Wildcat On-Line QuickNav

UA athletics prepares to enter 21st Century

By Bryan Rosenbaum
Arizona Daily Wildcat
May 12, 1999
Send comments to:

The past century has seen the UA athletic department grow into one of the nation's best. As UA athletics head into the year 2000, expect a number of changes in the next few years around the athletic facilities.

No. 1 on the list is the new athletic facility to be built on the north lawn in front of McKale Center. The new athletic center will include a heritage center featuring UA sports memorabilia and a student-athlete strength and conditioning center.

Construction on the new athletic center will begin in January and last 18 months, meaning there will be even more construction on the UA Mall.

"It's going to be difficult just getting around the mall," said Steve Kozachik, director of facilities management. "With three facilities going up simultaneously on the mall, driving around campus is going to be harder than it is now."

Another addition will be a new scoreboard with a color video screen at Arizona Stadium, a project that will be done over the summer and completed before football season. Kozachik said the UA probably would not show big football or basketball away-games on the video screen.

These projects show how committed the athletic department is to being one of the nation's best.

"As we look ahead, there's going to be a lot of challenges and a whole lot of opportunities," athletic director Jim Livengood said. "These projects that we are undertaking attract other people. They know we are committed to athletics and the student-athlete.

"My goal for the next century is for the university and the athletic department to work very closely together. We have to provide the best possible athletic program here at the UA. That's a big-time goal."

Thanks to national television exposure, the athletic program has become more visible than ever. The school signed a contract with Fox Sports Arizona, which will cover all of the men's basketball games, and at least two football games, at Penn State and at Arizona State, will be nationally televised on ABC.

While UA sports have become more visible to fans outside the state, the department is focusing on becoming more fan-friendly towards the community. Events such as Lame for a Game, football's Meet the Team day and numerous sporting clinics given by each sport have brought the players closer to their Tucson fans.

Students should also expect to see more changes in the future. More student basketball season tickets are in the process of being created and the possibility of a student section at McKale Center is on the horizon.

"We've not only thought about it, we talk about it every year," Livengood said. "We'd like to move our students to the best possible seats, but it's a big dilemma because we have long-time fans in those seats. We have to be careful about how we handle that."

The incident involving a laser pointer at the Stanford game and the theft of some Oregon State players' warm-ups didn't help, but Arizona's dominance at home has been done without vocal student support, something the players and students hope to change.

"I think students should have the best seats on both sides of the court," biology sophomore Eric Sharp said. "The atmosphere would be a lot better and the team would have more of a home-court advantage."

Arizona gives students prime seating for football games, and the support that has been given to the team has been a tremendous boost.