Awesome new hangout

Upgraded locker room lets Cats rest in style, dazzles recruits, too
2011-02-09T00:00:00Z 2012-11-30T19:14:54Z Awesome new hangoutPatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 09, 2011 12:00 am  • 

The Arizona Wildcats' new locker room has a switch with six different light settings, called "scenes."

One, used on game days, shines inset ceiling lights bright on coaches and players.

The day-to-day lights are softer, more relaxed.

And, of course, there's one used for recruiting.

Dramatic lights shine upward from the open part of new cherry-wood lockers, illuminating a UA jersey. A spotlight in the ceiling shines in front of the locker, allowing a player to imagine himself sitting there.

The UA's locker room, opened last month, was designed for recruits as much for current players.

The $1.5 million project, which includes in-progress graphics in the McKale Center hallways, was paid for by donations and meant to awe high school players on official visits as well as unofficial trips.

"It's really important to young people," UA coach Sean Miller began, "what the locker rooms and the facilities and the things they're going to be a part of look like. We're in that world where you compare. How does that compare to this place?

"Now our locker room is really great. I'm proud of it. I know our team's proud of it."

NTD Architecture and Division II Construction, both Tucson firms, gave the McKale Center bottom floor room its first renovation since 1994.

NTD looked at images online of NCAA locker rooms and consulted with Miller and on-campus officials.

The workers could not enlarge the space - a locker area and adjacent shower - or remove a load-bearing column in the middle of the locker room.

While some teams have separate rooms for film study, lockers and a lounge, the UA does not.

"Those guys spend a lot of time in there," NTD project manager Alan Scott said. "It has to answer a lot of different needs."

Miller estimated his players spend as many as eight hours in their new home on a weekend game day.

"Sometimes when you say 'locker room,' people will roll their eyes like, 'Why is that so important?'" Miller said. "But our players spend an inordinate amount of time there, more than you realize."

The UA is finishing a new weight room - for which Miller and wife Amy, among others, donated money - in the Richard Jefferson Gymnasium.

Combined with a new locker room, the Wildcats are upbeat about their future.

"Some of those things we're doing right now are so meaningful to our future," Miller said.

"It's exciting.

"It's almost as exciting as going through the season and having success, because it's going to impact our season greatly."

Click on the link above to the photo gallery for more on the new features in the Wildcats' locker room.

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