Lute & Bobbi Olson Court
View from southwest in 2019
|Full name||McKale Memorial Center|
Tucson, Arizona, U.S.
|Owner||University of Arizona|
|Operator||University of Arizona|
|Broke ground||November 1970|
|Opened||February 1, 1973|
47 years ago
($46.9 million in 2019)
|Architect||Place and Place, Inc.|
|General contractor||Sundt Construction, Inc.|
|Arizona Wildcats (NCAA) (1973–present)|
McKale Memorial Center is an athletic arena in the southwest United States, located on the campus of the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona. As the home of the university's Wildcats basketball team of the Pac-12 Conference, it is primarily used for basketball, but also has physical training and therapy facilities. Its construction is marked with a large copper cap that has oxidized brown. The arena opened 47 years ago in February 1973 and has an official capacity of 14,644 spectators. The elevation at street level is approximately 2,450 feet (750 m) above sea level.
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 record. He led the football team from 1914 to 1930, with an record. It was McKale's 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 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-athletes were nicknamed the Wildcats.
Following a win over rival Arizona State on February 26, 2000, the university athletic department honored longtime head coach Lute Olson with a ceremony to name the McKale Center playing surface "Lute Olson Court." Less than a year later, 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.
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.
In terms of capacity, McKale Center is the second-largest arena in the Pac-12 conference; Utah's Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City is first, but Arizona averages greater attendance. Arizona has the current longest streak of leading its conference in attendance in conference history, going on 34 seasons & second in the country currently behind Kentucky at 40.
The University's spring and winter commencement ceremonies were held at McKale Center from 1973 until 2012; the 2013 ceremonies returned to Arizona Stadium after an absence of thirty years.
In December 2012, the university athletic department was given approval by the Arizona Board of Regents to select an architect to renovate the arena. "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 athletic director Greg Byrne. 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 from 2014-2017 at a cost of $80 million. McKale Center will remain open during the construction process, with a majority of the work done outside of basketball season. The first phase of the renovation includes a brand new HD 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.
+ record reflects 11 vacated victories during 2007-08 season due to NCAA infractions