McKale Center

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McKale Center
Lute & Bobbi Olson Court
Full name McKale Memorial Center
Location 1 National Championship Drive
Tucson, AZ 85721
Coordinates 32°13′49″N 110°56′45″W / 32.23030°N 110.94595°W / 32.23030; -110.94595Coordinates: 32°13′49″N 110°56′45″W / 32.23030°N 110.94595°W / 32.23030; -110.94595
Owner University of Arizona
Operator University of Arizona
Capacity 14,700 (2014–present)[1]
14,545 (2000–2014)
14,489 (1997–2000)
14,343 (1996–1997)
14,257 (1994–1996)
13,814 (1992–1994)
13,662 (1990–1992)
13,477 (1988–1990)
13,124 (1986–1988)
13,316 (1984–1986)
13,658 (1973–1984)
Broke ground November 1970
Opened February 1, 1973
Construction cost $8,145,077
($43.4 million in 2016 dollars[2])
Architect Place and Place, Inc.
General contractor Sundt Construction, Inc.[3]
Arizona Wildcats (NCAA) (1973–present)
McKale Center, looking west
Entrance to the Eddie Lynch Athletics Pavilion

McKale Memorial Center is an athletic arena located at 1721 E Enke Dr on the campus of the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona. It is primarily used for basketball, but also features state-of-the-art physical training and therapy facilities. Its construction is marked with a large copper cap that has turned brown over time. McKale Center is home to the University of Arizona Wildcats basketball team. The arena opened in February 1973 and has an official capacity of 14,655 spectators.[4] It hosted the 1988 Pacific-10 Conference men's basketball tournament.

The McKale Center was named in honor of J.F. "Pop" McKale, a major athletic figure at U of A from 1914 to 1957. At one time, he was head coach of all of the school's athletic teams. He was head basketball coach from 1914 to 1921, where he achieved a 49-12 record.

McKale was coach of the Arizona football team from 1914 to 1930, with a record of 80 wins, 32 losses and six ties. It was his first team that resulted in Arizona's teams being nicknamed "Wildcats." In 1914, Arizona's name meant very little in the college football world. Although they lost to Occidental College in Los Angeles 14-0, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times was so impressed with Arizona's effort that he wrote, "The Arizona men showed the fight of wild cats ..." Soon afterward, Arizona's student[5]

Following the Arizona State University game on February 26, 2000, the University of Arizona athletic department honored head coach Lute Olson with a ceremony to name the McKale Center playing surface "Lute Olson Court". Then, during a memorial service in January 2001 for Olson's late wife, Bobbi, it was renamed, "Lute and Bobbi Olson Court" in recognition of the couple's impact on the university and the city of Tucson.[6]

In 2002, the Eddie Lynch Athletics Pavilion, a state-of-the-art medical and strength/conditioning facility for Wildcat student athletes, was completed and opened. The pavilion (which cost $14 million) was a 36,000-square-foot (3,300 m2) addition to the north end of McKale Center. The upper level has a 10,000-square-foot (930 m2) museum-like display area, open to the public, showcasing the history of Arizona Wildcat athletics.[7]

In terms of capacity, McKale Center is the second largest arena in the Pac-12 conference. Utah's Jon M. Huntsman Center is the largest basketball arena in the conference, but Arizona averages greater attendance.[8]

Proposed Renovation[edit]

In December 2012, the University of Arizona Athletic Department was given approval by the Arizona Board of Regents to select an architect to renovate McKale Center. "The hope is to get it to be where it's one concourse enclosed that you can walk around and have the restrooms and concessions and everything tied to it," said Greg Byrne, the Arizona Athletic Director.[9] The renovation would also include a club area, luxury seating, and more room for the athletics offices that occupy the McKale Center. The Arizona Athletic Department ultimately decided on AECOM to plan and design the renovation. The project will be completed in several phases between 2014-2017 at a cost of $80 million. McKale Center will remain open during the construction process due to the fact that much of the project will take place during the off-season. The first phase of the renovation includes a brand new high-definition video scoreboard which was completed at the end of December 2013. Other parts of the first phase also included new seating, a new floor, an improved locker room area and expanded restrooms and concessions. The first phase was completed in November 2014. The renovation has added 155 additional seats to McKale; which increases the overall capacity to 14,700.[1]

Major events[edit]

  • Host of the 1988 Pac-10 Conference men's basketball tournament.
  • On January 12, 2011 the McKale Center hosted a memorial service for the 2011 Tucson shooting victims in which President Barack Obama was the keynote speaker.[10]
  • The arena has been a frequent site for games in the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament since its opening. McKale Center hosted the first and second rounds of the tournament in 1979, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1997, 2000 and 2005; the second and third rounds in 2011; and the West Regional semifinals and final in 1974 and 1980.

Inside McKale Center[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Curtain rises on 'new' McKale Center". Arizona Daily Star. October 31, 2014. Retrieved October 28, 2015. 
  2. ^ Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved November 10, 2015. 
  3. ^ Cooper, James F.; Place, Lew. "Places in the Sun". University of Arizona. Retrieved November 13, 2013. 
  4. ^ "2014-15 Media Guide" (PDF). Arizona Athletics. Retrieved October 30, 2014. 
  5. ^ David Leighton, "Street Smarts: Before arena, road named for "Pop" McKale", Arizona Daily Star, June 17, 2014
  6. ^ "McKale Memorial Center". Arizona Athletics. Retrieved October 30, 2014. 
  7. ^ Fera, Brett (November 21, 2002). "Home Sweet Home at McKale Center". Arizona Daily Wildcat. University of Arizona. Retrieved November 13, 2013. 
  8. ^ "2010 National College Basketball Attendance" (PDF). National Collegiate Athletic Association. 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 1, 2010. Retrieved November 13, 2013. 
  9. ^ Murray, Evyn; McDannald, Tracy (January 9, 2013). "Greg Byrne on McKale Center Renovations". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved November 13, 2013. 
  10. ^ "President Obama: Memorial in Arizona". White House. January 12, 2011. Retrieved November 13, 2013. 

External links[edit]