Discover Tucson athletics beyond the UA Wildcats
|By Mish DeCarlo
Tucson is the proud home of the University of Arizona—a PAC-12 university known for consistently securing national sporting titles and for feeding athletes into professional leagues. However, sports don’t stop at the edge of campus, because Tucson is also headquarters to both minor-league and professional teams as well as tournaments. Sports are the pride and joy of the Tucson community, and teams like the Wildcats, Roadrunners, Sugar Skulls, and more make for excellent year-round sporting entertainment on both collegiate and professional levels.
The Tucson Roadrunners are a professional ice-hockey team in the American Hockey League, affiliated with the National Hockey League’s Arizona Coyotes. The Roadrunners play home games at the Tucson Convention Center, often drawing impressive crowds of more than 4,000 people.
Roadrunners home games are electric, as fans light up the TCC with exuberant yet competitively compelling chants. The energy in the rink maintains a high level of intimidation for any opponent. On top of regular games, the Roadrunners also host themed promotional nights, such as Whiskey and Wings, where fans sample delicious whiskey from various vendors and mouthwatering Buffalo wings from local and national restaurants. Harry Potter Night features characters from the wizarding world who host meet-and-greets with photo opportunities. One of hockey’s best feel-good traditions is the Teddy Bear Toss, where fans are encouraged to bring a new or unused plush item to the game to throw onto the ice after the Roadrunners’ first goal. All of the teddies are then donated to children in need.
The Roadrunners season runs from October until April, including about 25 home games every year. For ticket information, call 1-866-77-HOCKEY or visit the Roadrunners website.
Tucson Sugar Skulls
The Tucson Sugar Skulls, a professional indoor-football team, had its inaugural year in 2018. Before the franchise was started, the Tucson community was given the opportunity to choose a name for their new team. After months of collecting suggestions, “Sugar Skulls” came out on top as an ode to the local tradition of creating decorative skulls made from sugar for the holiday Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead), sometimes known as All Souls’ Day.
The Sugar Skulls compete against 11 teams, spread throughout the country, in the Indoor Football League. Their season runs from March to June, and home games are held in the Tucson Convention Center Arena in downtown. For ticket and game information, visit the Sugar Skulls website.
Every March, FC Tucson kicks off its season and plays until the end of October. FC Tucson is a soccer club, part of the USL League One, that made its way here in 2010 and has been scoring goals under the lights of the Kino Sports Complex ever since. FC Tucson is a larger group that includes professional teams for both men and women, as well as a youth soccer club that caters to more than 2,000 players. Regardless of experience level, FC Tucson encourages players to reach for the highest level of athleticism and foster a passion for the game. Fans can see the season schedule and purchase game tickets by visiting the FC Tucson website.
University of Arizona Athletics
Wildcat fans are always eager to get back in Arizona Stadium to cheer on the University of Arizona Football team. The excitement of a PAC-12 match is hard to beat, but the women’s soccer and volleyball games early in the academic year come pretty close. Not too far behind, Wildcat Hockey players start their season in the late fall at the Tucson Convention Center.
During winter, Arizona Basketball returns to McKale Memorial Center—one of college basketball’s most iconic stadiums. A ticket to an Arizona basketball game is the hottest ticket in Tucson (get them fast, before they completely sell out!) and for good reason. The UA Basketball program ranks in the top 20 nationally and leads the PAC-12 Conference in attendance every year since the 1984–85 season. The ZonaZoo, UA’s student section, is recognized as one of the country’s most spirited crowds. The “sea of red,” where fans dress in school colors in reserved seating, sticks out immediately at any Arizona football or basketball game. The ZonaZoo has become monstrous force; it’s the largest student section in the PAC-12.
There’s no better way to enjoy a spring day than at a Wildcat Baseball game at Hi Corbett Field. The Arizona Baseball program is one of the PAC-12’s premier programs, boasting 17 appearances in the College World Series. The program has sent many players toward the Major Leagues and beyond.
The Cologuard Classic, a PGA TOUR Champions event, has been hosted by the Tucson Conquistadores, a local fundraising organization, for more than five years. The Conquistadores has contributed millions of dollars to local charities, through organizing a variety of golf tournaments, during its 50-plus years serving Tucson. The Cologuard Classic supports colon cancer awareness by promoting regular testing and early detection.
Every spring at Omni Tucson National Resort, a 78-player field competes for a $1.7 million purse and 255 Charles Schwab Cup points. The tournament consists of three days of competition, but golf-enthusiasts—with or without experience—are encouraged to join Hall of Famers, major champions, and Tour favorites on the green for a special two-day Pro-Am. To participate in all the action, visit the Cologuard classic website.
Whether it’s football, hockey, golf, volleyball, baseball, basketball—or really anything sports-related—the Wildcats and the city of Tucson are always game.