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Friday February 23, 2001

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Laxcats lose Arizona Stadium game

By Jeff Lund

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Matchup with ASU marred by schedule flaw

Feb. 24 was a date that every member of the Arizona Lacrosse team had marked on their calendars. It was going to be a chance to play in Arizona Stadium in front of a larger crowd, most of whom would be parents visiting for the team's annual family weekend.

So much for planning. The Laxcats will not step foot on the turf at Arizona Stadium this weekend while UA officials install a new irrigation system.

Rather, the team will return to where they've played all year - a soccer field with one set of aluminum bleachers. Laxcat family weekend begins at 1 p.m. at Laxcat Coliseum on 15th Street between Plumer Street and Tucson Boulevard.

Mary O'Mahoney, UA's assistant director of sport clubs and family programs, said a miscommunication between the athletic department and grounds crew was to blame.

"Athletics tried to postpone the project," O'Mahoney said. "It was an outside contracting job. The equipment was already rented. The athletic department offered to pay overtime to delay the project, but there was nothing they could do."

Even though efforts were made, members of the Laxcats said they felt cheated out of their annual stadium experience.

"We were told about the game in the stadium in December," Arizona head coach Mickey-Miles Felton said. "In January, it was finalized. We have been talking it up and advertising for quite some time now."

Felton said his team had planned a brunch in the stadium for the parents while the players warmed up for the game and had spent time and money putting up flyers and advertising on the radio in attempt to draw better crowds for the weekend game.

With the installation of the new irrigation system, the team's plans have changed.

"It's terribly disappointing," Felton said. "There's nothing that will be able to be done to stop the loss of our credibility, it is impossible to back-track."

Felton is worried about what students will think about the change of location.

"The (students) are just going to think 'oh its just lacrosse,' but the game isn't here," he said. "There won't be an explanation on the gate saying why the game isn't here. We have made it such a big deal. It was hard to see the look on my players' faces when I told them."

Senior captain Jevon Lake's parents made plans to come from Texas for a chance to see their son play in the stadium.

Jevon Lake said that playing in the stadium is something everyone was looking forward to.

"It is a disappointment to the team and players," Lake said. "We put a lot of work into promoting it. Parent weekend was one of the main reasons we were playing in the stadium. Playing in there just steps up your game - seeing the scoreboard lit up and more fans. Last year, playing in there was amazing. The weather wasn't even that great. It could have been snowing, but that wouldn't have mattered."

To the disappointment of the players, tomorrow's game was the only contest scheduled in the stadium.

"We make the same sacrifices as every other athlete," Arizona's Brian Moore said. "We try and represent our school academically and on the field. We make the same sacrifices as the varsity athletes, but the department doesn't make many amends for the club teams."