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The Daily Wildcat


Donors grant $10 million for football facilities

Colin Darland / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Initial donation of $10 million for North Endzone project
Colin Darland
Colin Darland / Arizona Daily Wildcat Initial donation of $10 million for North Endzone project

An El Paso, Texas, couple announced today that they have donated $10 million to the University of Arizona athletics department and its facilities improvement plan, the largest single gift ever given to the Arizona athletic department, said Athletic Director Jim Livengood.

The donation from Jeff and Sharon Stevens, both Arizona alumni, will be primarily spent toward the football team’s northern end-zone improvement plan, which has an estimated cost of $85 million.

“”There’s an old saying … ‘Extraordinary people do extraordinary things,'”” Livengood said at a press conference yesterday. “”That’s exactly why we’re here today. It’s a commitment, a belief and confidence in the future of our program.””

Livengood was quick to add that “”much heavy lifting”” would be necessary for the first phase of the facilities improvement plan, dubbed “”Vision Arizona.”” The architectural plans and budget must be approved in a January meeting with the Arizona Board of Regents.

The first phase of the athletics improvement plan will relocate the football offices, now in McKale Center, into the new north end-zone facility at Arizona Stadium. Moving the football team to their stadium will open space for later phases in the project, which will include expansions within McKale Center itself.

North end-zone changes will also include stadium lighting, an upgraded scoreboard and an improvement to the Jimenez Practice facility.

“”I’ve been excited about this for weeks,”” said football head coach Mike Stoops. “”For our program to grow… this is a necessity in modern day collegiate sports. It’s about building a legacy and building a football program that can compete across the country.

“”This plan, to see it start to come full circle, is really energizing,”” he added.

At the press conference, Jeff and Sharon Stevens addressed the media alongside Stoops, Livengood and assistant athletic director and master’s student Erika Barnes.

“”This is a commitment that we started discussing with Erika about a year ago,”” said Jeff Stevens, the current director and president of Western Refining, Inc. located in El Paso, Texas. “”We felt like it was the right time in our life to make this kind of commitment. We really looked at it not as a building to put your name on, but an investment in the university and the athletic department and the football program.””

Livengood said it was the right time for the program to plan such intricate additions to their department. Likewise, Jeff, from Phoenix, and Sharon, who attended Salpointe Catholic High School in Tucson, repeatedly said it was the “”right time”” to make such a large donation.

“”Sharon and I talked about the fact that when you look at the generous donors to the university, (a lot) have been a lot of the same people over the years,”” Jeff Stevens said. “”It’s really our generation’s, our time, to step up and take over what these good people have done.””

The Stevens have also donated money to the University of Texas, El Paso’s athletic department, sharing $6 million with the school to help build a basketball practice facility.

Livengood insinuated that it was good timing to make such a monumental announcement prior to homecoming weekend, as he hopes it will provoke returning alumni to give back to their school.

“”These are difficult times, we all know that,”” he said. “”To step forward right now and to make a gift of this magnitude for this program goes beyond any Wildcat spirit we can talk about.””

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