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Arizona Wildcats moving spring football game off campus

This is how the north end zone project looked at 1:07 p.m. Wednesday. Photo from UA webcam

The Arizona Wildcats will move their spring football game off campus because of construction in the north end zone of Arizona Stadium, athletic director Greg Byrne told TucsonCitizen.com on Wednesday.

“We’ll have it ready for next football season,” Byrne said, “but getting it ready for a game in the middle of the construction time would present a challenge for us.”

Nothing is official, but Byrne said Arizona is considering holding the game at Kino Stadium, the site of the Casino Del Sol All-Star Game last Monday.

Byrne and other members of his administrative staff attended the game.

“I just love college football,” Byrne said. “I wanted to take my boys to the game and, at the same time, see how the event went off.”

Kino Stadium, because of its size, makes the most sense as an alternative for the spring game, which will be held Saturday, April 14.

Attendance for the spring game has been modest in the past couple of years — an estimated 4,500 last year and 6,000 in 2010 — but 10,000 or so would nicely fill Kino. Arizona can anticipate a spike in attendance because of interest in first-year coach Rich Rodriguez.

Crews have torn down the seating in the north end zone of Arizona Stadium, and the university will hold an official groundbreaking for the project on Friday. You can follow the progress at the UA’s live webcam.

Arizona will be constructing a new home for the football program — offices, locker rooms, training areas, etc. — that will help the Wildcats be more competitive in the Pac-12 in terms of facilities. The new north end zone will feature premium seating and other fan amenities.

The project, with an estimated cost of about $72 million, is set for completion in the summer of 2013.

“It’s wonderful that Arizona, after many years of lip service, is finally making a commitment to football excellence, because I don’t think they have done that,” said Dick Tomey, who coached Arizona from 1987 to 2000.

“They have done it in little bits and pieces, but they are making a major commitment.”

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