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Roundtable: What is your favorite sports stadium in Tucson?

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Elijah Bia | The Daily Wildcat

Hillenbrand Stadium during Arizona sunset located on the University of Arizona campus. Taken on Aug. 14, 2020.

Jacob Mennuti - Hi Corbett Field

I have had a ton of unforgettable memories at almost every stadium in Tucson. From being rained out at Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium for the first game in the newly renovated stadium to soaking up the April sun at Bear Down Beach for my first assignment as a reporter for the Daily Wildcat. But Hi Corbett Field will always be my favorite stadium in Tucson for one reason alone: the sunsets. It was the first stadium in Tucson that I had ever been to as I was a senior in high school when I toured the campus during my spring break. The Arizona baseball team was hosting a series against Stanford the weekend that I was in town. So being the die-hard baseball fan that I am, I had to carve time out of my schedule to visit Hi Corbett Field to watch a game. I had never seen a sunset as amazing as the one that painted the sky behind the right field wall that night. I thought I had gotten lucky seeing a sunset like that but little did I know, that was just another normal night at Hi Corbett Field. 

Ari Koslow - Hi Corbett Field

My favorite sports stadium in Tucson is Hi Corbett Field, home to the Arizona baseball team. It will always have a special place in my heart as baseball was the first sport I covered with the Daily Wildcat, thus being the first stadium I attended on a consistent basis in Tucson. I will never forget the first game I covered, where I was able to partake in an interview on the field with legendary Wildcat baseball player and MLB Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman, who was having his jersey retired by the Wildcats ahead of the 2019 season opener. 

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Sean Fagan - McKale Center

My favorite arena in Tucson is McKale Center. Funny thing is, I have never been to the arena! I am an online student and I live in California. However, what makes it my favorite arena is its personal significance to me. Before I joined the Daily Wildcat, I had never written a sports piece for a newspaper. The week I was hired, my first assignment was to watch the Arizona Wildcats take on ASU and discuss the game on our weekly podcast. I tuned into the game and it ended up being a nail biter! Arizona won on a tip in, and I was so excited. I could not wait to get on the podcast and talk about everything. I have always wanted to cover sports for a living, and that game played in McKale Center was the first step on a journey to making my dreams come true. 

Jordan White - Tucson Arena

My favorite sports arena in Tucson is the Tucson Arena, at the Tucson Convention Center. I have only been there a few times. However, it made a lasting impression on me because it introduced me to the sport of hockey. I obviously knew what hockey was already, but growing up in California, I knew only one person that played it. None of my friends or family were ever interested in it so I never felt the urge to check it out. But that changed during my junior year at the University of Arizona. One of my former roommates was on the UA men’s club hockey team and invited us to a few of his games. After I finally agreed to go, I got to experience the support of hockey for the first time. Though it was only at the collegiate club level, it was still exciting and different from other sports like basketball and football. I will always remember stepping into that arena for the first time and giving something new a chance.

Jake Faigus - McKale Center

The best stadium in all of Tucson to me is the McKale Center. The biggest reason this stadium stands out to me is because of the historical significance of the building. Lute Olson built a team in that stadium and Sean Miller has continued the dominance in that building. He helped build a 71-game winning streak in that building and ever since Olson was there, the building has become one of the best home arenas in all of college basketball. Arizona fans have continued to show up and be present no matter who is the coach. Personally, the first time I was in the building as a fan was in 2018. While I don’t remember the team they were playing, I do remember that the team wasn’t nearly as good as they have been, and the fans still showed up and were as loud as they would have been if the team was ranked in the top 10 — and they were facing a team that was in the top 10. The best part about McKale will always be the fans because they are the best fans in all of college basketball, and they are also incredibly basketball savvy.

Seth Litwin - Arizona Stadium

While on the outside, Arizona Stadium looks like a concrete jungle. Once inside, it gives off the charm of an old-school stadium that’s perfect for watching a game. The stadium is simple to find your seat and each section is well-marked. The new renovations make it easier to get concessions and makes the stadium look more modern inside without sacrificing the feel of an older stadium. The stadium is a sea of blue and red on gameday and you can't walk 10 feet without hearing someone yell "bear down!" Whether you are sitting in the ZonaZoo or the nosebleeds, there isn't a bad seat in the house. 

C.J. Lala - McKale Center

In my three years here at the University of Arizona I have been to many football, basketball and baseball games for the school. Arizona has many great facilities but they do not compare to McKale Center. The atmosphere is unmatched when it is filled with Arizona’s fans. My favorite memory from the building is not from the prominent basketball program at Arizona, but the volleyball team. I covered them during the 2019-20 season. They held their annual Dig Pink Game in honor of Breast Cancer awareness where the Wildcats wore pink jerseys and the team also invited some of the local club volleyball teams to the game. They sold out all the available seating. Unfortunately, they did lose to No. 20 Utah 3-1. But the fans were engaged until the end and gave the team the competitive edge that Arizona’s fans always create.

Bryan Savic - McKale Center

I recall being outside with a colleague of mine from KAMP Radio. We were eager to get in and start putting all our equipment together. It was a huge game in PAC-12 play between Oregon and Arizona. The anticipation was killing us as we were waiting for the check-in desk and security to finally let us in. Once we were given clearance, we both raced up to the media area to put everything together as we only had 30 minutes until the game started. It was my first time doing play-by-play announcing for KAMP. My colleague and I turned our heads and looked at each other, knowing that this was going to be a significant game. A game that we would never forget.

The arena, of course, made the game ever more significant. McKale Center was electric that day as it always is for every men’s basketball game. Its pristine beauty matched with the roars of Tucsonans in the crowd was poetic. You could feel their passionate screams vibrate your seats and the entire arena for that matter. It was unlike any college sports atmosphere I have ever been in. I will go out in a limb and say that McKale is the college basketball equivalent of Liverpool’s Anfield stadium in terms of crowd noise. Certainly a hot take but a take I’m sticking with, nonetheless. The crowd for this game against Oregon got so rowdy to the point that I became worried that they might trigger a seismic earthquake.

The game’s result ended in Oregon securing a hard-fought victory in overtime with a final score of 73-72. Oregon’s Payton Pritchard went off in this game with an impressive stat line of 38 points, six rebounds and four assists. It was surreal to witness him bask in the roars of boos coming from the Arizona faithful. I can tell it gave him great pleasure to sink Arizona once again, especially in McKale. It was a great game regardless as this was the first time I was really exposed to the magic of McKale. An amazing and fun atmosphere that is unprecedented. The first step I took inside the arena, I knew right away I was stepping on sacred ground.


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