The University of Arizona prides itself on school spirit throughout campus. One of the most well-known places on campus that exhilarates school spirit and brings the community and student body together is the McKale Center.  McKale is the biggest indoor facility on campus, and is used for many different purposes. Some of these purposes include sports (Men's/Women's basketball, gymnastics, volleyball, etc.), student orientations, graduation ceremonies, and more! Though the McKale Center has many purposes to its arena, the most popular events that are held there are the men's basketball team's home games. Students and alumni at the University and locals around Tucson bleed red and blue while chanting "Bear Down" as they cheer for the Wildcats.

The McKale Center is an important building on campus for students, alumni, and members of the Tucson community. It is a hub for all athletes around campus as it has locker rooms for each sport and the main gym where the athletes exercise. There is no where else on the University of Arizona campus where the energy is so high and intense. It truly is something that is one of a kind and you can feel school spirit in the air like never before. The crowd brings chilling energy and their A game every time the men's basketball team plays a game. Hearing the echo of "Bear Down" chants makes you feel at home. The ability to be a part of that is something that students should not take for granted.

McKale Center



The McKale Memorial Center opened in February of 1973 and changed the era of Wildcat basketball. The new court was named after J.F. “Pop” Mckale, who was the athletic director and coach at the University of Arizona from 1914-1957. 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 court at McKale Center “Lute Olson Court”. Then the following year, during a memorial service in January 2001 for Olson’s late wife, Bobbi, the court was renamed, “Lute and Bobbi Olson Court". It was renamed in recognition of the couple’s impact on the university and the city of Tucson. When the McKale Center first opened, it housed 13,658 guests, but after renovations it can now seat 14,655 eager Arizona fans. The McKale Center has been the scene of several major national sports events such as the NCAA West Regionals in March 1974 and in March 1980, the NCAA Wrestling Championships in March 1976, and the NCAA first and second round basketball action in 1979, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1997, and 2000. In addition, the USA Basketball Team trained in the McKale Center prior to winning the 1986 World Championships and Arizona played host to the second Pacific-10 Conference Tournament in 1988. Today, the McKale Center is home to Men’s and Women’s Basketball, Volleyball, Gymnastics, and more. The McKale Center also houses the entire off-field operations of the University's athletic department, an exercise sciences lab, equipment rooms, training and rehabilitation centers, locker rooms, storage areas, a suite of 20-plus office labs for the Optical Sciences department, ticket operations, academic services, computer lab facilities, and administrative offices.

The original McKale Center when it first opened in 1973.


Renovations to the McKale center were recently made after the 2014-2015 basketball season.


Home to Many Impressive Accomplishments:

  • 72 NBA Draft Picks 
  • 33 NCAA Tournament Appearances
  • 18 Sweet Sixteens
  • 11 Elite Eights
  • 4 Final Fours
  • 1 National Championship

    Nico Mannion (Freshman) during one of his first basketball games as a Wildcat.


Wildcat NBA Players:

1.     Deandre Ayton (Current Team: Phoenix Suns) 

2.   Allonzo Trier (Current Team: New York Knicks)

3.   Kadeem Allen (Past Team: Boston Celtics; Current Team: New York Knicks (summer league team))

4.    Jerryd Bayless (Past Teams: Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Hornets, Toronto Raptors, Memphis Grizzlies, Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, Minnesota Timberwolves; Current Team: Sichuan Blue Whales (Chinese Basketball Association)) 

5.    Channing Frye (Past Teams: New York Knicks, Portland Trail Blazers, Phoenix Suns, Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers, Cleveland Cavilers; Currently: Retired from NBA)

6.    Aaron Gordon (Current Team: Orlando Magic)

7.    Solomon Hill (Past Teams: Indiana Pacers, New Orleans Pelicans; Current Team: Memphis Grizzlies)

8.    Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Past Team: Brooklyn Nets; Current Team: Toronto Raptors)

9.    Andre Iguodala (Past Teams: Philadelphia 76ers, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors; Current Team: Memphis Grizzlies)

10.  Stanley Johnson (Past Teams: Detroit Pistons, New Orleans Pelicans; Current Team: Toronto Raptors)

11.  Lauri Markkanen (Current Team: Chicago Bulls)

12.  T.J. McConnell (Past Team: Philadelphia 76ers; Current Team: Indiana Pacers)

13.  Rawle Alkins (Past Team: Chicago Bulls; Current Team: Houston Rockets (summer league team))

14. Brandon Ashley (Played in Europe before entering NBA; Current Team: Sacramento Kings (summer league team))

15. Brandon Randolph (Current Team: Minnesota Timberwolves (summer league team))

16. Gabe York (Current Team: Orlando Magic (summer league team))

DeAndre Ayton (#13) during his first and only Wildcat season (2017-2018). He is now in the NBA on the Phoenix Suns.


Wildcat NBA Head Coaches:

1.    Steve Kerr (Past Teams: Chicago Bulls, San Antonio Spurs, Portland Trail Blazers, Phoenix Suns (executive position); Currently: Coach of the Golden State Warriors)

2.   Luke Walton (Past Teams: Los Angeles Lakers (player and coach), Cleveland Cavilers, University of Memphis (coach), Golden State Warriors (interim head coach); Currently: Coach of the Sacramento Kings)

Golden State Warriors coach and ex Arizona Wildcats basketball player, Steve Kerr

Basketball Game Traditions:

Before each game, a video is played of the players in the locker room and it stops while they all run out onto the court. At this time the fight song Bear Down is played and fans cheer. Before the lineup is announced there is another video demonstrating all of the accomplishments that U of A basketball has, this video is known as the team hype video. 

At every basketball game students have specific cheers throughout gameplay. ZonaZoo hands out big heads of different players on the team, Sean Miller (men's basketball coach), and relevant memes as well as costumes to the student section. During halftime, balloons are passed out to distract the other team while throwing free throws.   

Arizona students participating in the balloon basketball game tradition.

Arizona students participating in the big head basketball game tradition.



At the McKale Center, students have their own section called ZonaZoo. Students are able to purchase a ZonaZoo pass with different features that allow for all access to sporting events around campus. ZonaZoo allows for students to have a community to watch sporting events while showing school spirit at the same time. According to NCSSA, ZonaZoo has been named the NCSSA Student Section of the Year in both 2015 and 2018. ZonaZoo is run by an organization called ZonaZoo Crew, which consists of a five-member executive board and 35 crew members.

The ZonaZoo student section watching the Arizona Wildcats.


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