The University of Arizona prides itself on school spirit throughout campus. Students and alumni at the University bleed red and blue while chanting Bear Down to cheer for the Wildcats. A well-known place on campus that exhilarates school spirit and brings the community and student body together is the McKale Center.
McKale Center is an important building on campus for students, alumni, and community members. The center is a hub for all athletes around campus including locker rooms for each sport and the main work out room. The energy in the building is one of a kind and you can feel school spirit in the air. The energy that the crowd brings sends shivers down the spine. 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.
At McKale Center students have their own section called ZonaZoo. Students can purchase a ZonaZoo pass with different memberships 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. ZonaZoo has been named the NCSSA Student Section of the Year in 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 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 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. When it first opened it housed 13,658 guests, but after renovations it can now seat 14,655 eager Arizona fans. McKale has been the scene of several major national sports events such as the NCAA West Regionals in March 1974 and in March 1980 and the NCAA Wrestling Championships in March 1976 and NCAA first and second round basketball action in 1979, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1997, and 2000. In addition, the USA Basketball Team trained in McKale Center prior to winning the 1986 World Championships and Arizona played host to the second Pacific-10 Conference Tournament in 1988
Renovations to the McKale center were recently made after the 2014-2015 season.
Today the McKale center is home to Men’s and Women’s Basketball, Volleyball, and Gymnastics. McKale Center also houses the entire off-field operations of the University's athletic department as well as an exercise sciences lab and a suite of 20-plus office labs for the Optical Sciences department. The three levels include equipment rooms, training and rehabilitation center, locker rooms, storage areas, ticket operations, academic services, computer lab facilities, and administrative offices.
The McKale Center is home to a number of impressive accomplishments:
- 72 NBA Draft Picks
- 33 NCAA Tournament Appearances
- 18 Sweet Sixteens
- 11 Elite Eights
- 4 Final Fours
- 1 National Championship
There are currently 13 Wildcat Basketball players in the NBA:
1. Rawle Alkins
2. Kadeem Allen
3. Deandre Ayton
4. Jerryd Bayless
5. Channing Frye
6. Aaron Gordon
7. Solomon Hill
8. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
9. Andre Iguodala
10. Stanley Johnson
11. Lauri Markkanen
12. T.J. McConnell
13. Allonzo Trier
There are currently two head coaches in the NBA:
1. Steve Kerr
2. Luke Walton
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 a video demonstrating all of the accomplishments that U of A basketball has.
At every basketball game students have specific cheers throughout gameplay. ZonaZoo hands out big heads and costumes to the student section. At halftime, balloons are passed out to distract the other team while throwing free throws.