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McKale Center Turns 40

By Jason Bartel -- January 29, 2013 9:42 PM EST


McKale Memorial Center opened at the University of Arizona on February 1st, 1973 with a men's basketball game against Wyoming. The opening of McKale Center changed capacity for Wildcat basketball games from 3,000 to 14,000! They were competing in the WAC in those days, as the school was a founding member of the conference in 1962 after The Border Conference was disbanded. McKale has seen only 6 men's basketball head coaches (Fred Snowden, Ben Lindsey, Lute Olson, Kevin O'Neill, Russ Pennell and current coach Sean Miller). Since 1973, Arizona has won 13 conference titles, made 4 final fours, and won the 1997 National Championship.

On February 6th, 2013, the university will be celebrating the 40th anniversary of the building with an interesting take. As seen in this article by Arizona Wildcats Athletics, the plan is to take a picture of the arena with fans in certain sections wearing either red, white, or blue. In prior attempts to do something like this, it has failed miserably, but maybe with this being such an important occasion for the basketball program, hopefully fans will make the effort and wear the proper attire. The game is against Stanford, which has not been a real rival in basketball since the Lopez brothers. With the Whiteout not providing the team with any kind of extra motivation against UCLA, maybe the Wildcats will come out victorious against Stanford and make it a good birthday party for McKale.

Along with the color coordinated sections, there is a fan vote for the best moment in McKale Center history. The list of 40 choices is quite eccentric, ranging from U of A basketball games, to concerts by the Eagles and KISS, to volleyball and wrestling matches, to the memorial services of Bobbi Olson (Wife of Lute Olson) and those affected in the January 2011 shooting involving Representative Gabrielle Giffords. You can vote for your top 10, and the top 10 vote-getters will be recognized during the Stanford game.

*Photo attributed to ArizonaWildcats.com


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