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Arizona Daily Star (Tucson)
What used to be Jerry Kindall Field at Frank Sancet Stadium is no more.
In recent days, bulldozers flattened the right-field bleachers, dugout and batting cages. The home of Arizona's 1976, 1980 and 1986 national championship teams is nothing but dirt, making way for the UA's $16 million Indoor Sports Center, due for occupancy in January.
Across the street, a $25 million renovation of the east side of Arizona Stadium is three months from completion.
The only real suspense of Tucson's sleepy summer sports season is if construction will be complete by the Sept. 1 football opener against BYU.
Everything else is ready to roll — as long as quarterback Khalil Tate remains healthy — which reflects well on athletic director Dave Heeke's vow to make game-day experience at Arizona Stadium more fan-friendly.
After its smallest average attendance (42,632) since 1997, Heeke said he will implement the following changes:
- Public address announcer Jimmy Zaza will not return. He will be replaced by McKale Center PA man Jeff Dean, who has a more measured and a less-shrill tone.
- The Pride of Arizona Marching Band will be allowed to play more frequently in 2018. For the last few years, the UA band was seen but not often heard. Good move.
- The volume of the PA system will be dialed back a bit. Those 25,000 people in the West grandstands, most of them long past their college days, will appreciate not going home with a ringing in their ears.
- The massive video board will be used for more than the Kiss Cam and endless advertising. Heeke promises that updated scores from other Pac-12 games and statistics from the UA game will be displayed. Just like a real football stadium.
As usual, UA fans will be asked to do the night shift.
The Pac-12 last week announced the UA-BYU game will start at 7:45 p.m., and the Sept. 25 UA-Southern Utah game will kick off at 8 p.m. The league further announced the Nov. 2 game, a Friday, against Colorado will be played at 7:30 p.m.
But if Tate remains healthy and is productive, the UA's home schedule — Oregon, USC, ASU, BYU, Cal and Colorado — looks to be as attractive as any at Arizona Stadium the last 25 years.
Some schools don't have it as good.
When Arizona plays at Houston on Sept. 8 — Kevin Sumlin's return to his old school — kickoff will be at 11 a.m.
The average high temperature in Houston on that day is 92 degrees. Humidity? Don't ask.
And Houston's TDECU Stadium does not have a roof.
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