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Notebook: Installation of turf at Arizona Stadium changes location of spring game

Rich Rodriguez

Rich Rodriguez’s feet won’t be on grass next season at Arizona Stadium. Photo by Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Wildcats will be installing artificial turf at Arizona Stadium — “sooner rather than later,” athletic director Greg Byrne said — which means the team’s spring game will be displaced for the second consecutive year.

Arizona is finalizing the details of the new surface, Byrne told TucsonCitizen.com, but the pending installation in the offseason means the spring game likely will be held at Jerry Kindall Field at Sancet Stadium.

The former home of the Arizona baseball team, across the street from the Arizona Stadium, served as the football team’s practice home last season.

A year ago, construction of the Lowell-Stevens football facility in the north end zone of Arizona Stadium forced the team to hold its spring game at Kino Stadium, home of the Triple-A Tucson Padres. That was before changes were made to accommodate the football team at Kindall/Sancet.

A date for this year’s spring game has not been announced.

Byrne has considered multiple options for Kindall/Sancet now that the baseball team successful transitioned to Hi Corbett Field, but he said it will remain a football facility, at least for the short term.

“As of right now, we’re going to continue to use it as football practice fields,” he said.

“That has worked really well. It’s good space for our football program. I won’t say you never change, but as of now, we’re going to stay focused on that.”

Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez always has expressed a preference for artificial turf. His teams played on FieldTurf late in his tenure at West Virginia and through his three years at Michigan. He has said the installation of artificial turf will allow the Cats to practice in Arizona Stadium a couple of times a week during the season.

The football program should be able to begin use of the Lowell-Stevens facility in the summer.

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By the time Byrne hired Rodriguez in November 2011, it was too late to submit changes to Arizona’s Nike-made uniforms for the 2012 season.

There will be some tweaks for 2013.

“I guess it’s a little bit different look, but it’s not a whole lot different. I mean, it’s not drastic,” Rodriguez recently told TucsonCitizen.com.

Arizona hasn’t released details or pictures of the new design, and Rodriguez said he wanted to show the players before discussing it.

“It’s not something that you would be like, ‘Sheesh, that’s completely off the wall,’” Rodriguez said.

Arizona wore four helmets this season, including the introduction of copper and red, contributing to the Cats using a different uniform combination for each game (see them all at this link). Red and copper helmets will continue to be in the mix on occasion.

“Our colors are still going to red, white and blue,” Rodriguez said. “There are no plans for a copper jersey.”

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Scout.com released its final list of the top 300 high school recruits Wednesday, upgrading a pair of players committed to Arizona — running back Pierre Cormier and quarterback Anu Solomon — to four-star status.

Scout.com ranks Cormier as No. 226 overall and UA cornerback recruit Derek Babiash at No. 275. Solomon, ranked 35th among quarterbacks, didn’t crack the top 300 despite his upgrade from a three-star recruit.

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