As construction crews continue to tear apart the north end zone section of Arizona Stadium and begin placing the structures to hold the new athletic facilities, word recently came of some more big news for the Wildcats. According to various reports and confirmation from athletic director Greg Byrne, Arizona will be receiving a new artificial turf field in 2013.
The Wildcats have played on natural grass for more than the last century, meaning this is yet another big change to the UA football program under Byrne and head coach Rich Rodriguez.
Here are a few more details from the Arizona Daily Star on the new turf field:
Arizona is "absolutely exploring" replacing Arizona Stadium's grass with an artificial surface for 2013, the year the old stadium's north end zone expansion opens, athletic director Greg Byrne told the Star today. The Wildcats have played on grass every year since 1899. Arizona Stadium opened in 1929. Artificial surfaces typically cost about $1 million to install but are cheaper to maintain.
There are plenty of benefits that go along with artificial turf over a natural grass field. For one, it just looks better on television. Aesthetics can mean everything to a potential incoming recruit, and a brand new field to go along with a renovated stadium could be the difference in landing a player. Artificial turf is also much easier to maintain, especially with summers being so brutal in Tucson, and would allow the Wildcats to practice at Arizona Stadium throughout the year if they chose to.
The downside would undoubtably be the cost, although raising money and finding enough funding has never been an issue under Byrne. Most turfs last for a decade or so and cost in the neighborhood of $1 million dollars, although it is cheaper to maintain than grass in the long-run. Still, this will not come cheap for UA and they will need to do plenty of research on potential options.
For more on the Wildcats, check out AZ Desert Swarm.