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Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium

Stadium

1700 E. 2nd Street
Tucson, AZ  85719
Directions: http://tinyurl.com/o7yq8db

Already one of the premier venues in college softball, Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium seems to get better every year.

In the last few years the Wildcats have made a number of changes, particularly beyond the outfield fence that appeal to teams and fans alike. In 2006, UA debuted a state-of-the-art videoboard and new scoreboard beyond the right field fence. In between innings, the Wildcat faithful now enjoy highlights from years past and present, as well as music videos. During the game, Arizona's batters have personalized video introductions, and movie clips provide entertainment during breaks in the action. The NCAA featured public service messages as a national test model in 2006 NCAA regional and super regional action.

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Hillenbrand Stadium's batting cages

Also in 2006, covered batting cages were erected to allow UA to work on hitting in any weather conditions. Adjacent to the batting cages, permanent bleachers were installed to expand the Hillenbrand Stadium's capacity to 2,956 and offer a majestic view of Tucson's desert sunsets. In November 2006, ground broke on a new clubhouse that features a players' lounge and an area for the Wildcats to review game film. In addition to UA's team room, an umpire's room and training room were erected for the 2007 campaign. Ultimately, head coach Mike Candrea says that the main theme for the clubhouse is to celebrate Arizona's tradition.

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Hillenbrand Stadium Videoboard

"Our goal in constructing the team room is to capture the history of Arizona softball," Candrea says. "It will allow us to remember the past and remind our student-athletes of the heritage they share."

Beginning in 2010, the audio system was enhanced to project clear and balanced sound throughout the stadium.

***

Whether they come out to the tune of 3,541 for an exhibition pitting Team USA against Arizona, or for a Wildcats' regular-season game, the Arizona fans have proved themselves as some of the best in the country.

Last year, Hillenbrand Stadium's overall attendance passed the 500,000 mark, and since 2000 UA has drawn at least 32,000 fans per year.

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Arizona's 13th best crowd in school history.

One reason for the stadium's appeal obviously is the Cats' typical home success - victories. UA has played to a 469-39 record at home. That's 92 victories in every 100 games. In 2002, UCLA snapped a remarkable 70-game home field winning streak the Cats had built, which remains the national record.

That fan support underscores the attraction of UA softball and its home field, named in honor of the late Rita Hillenbrand, sister of the late Wildcat benefactor William G. Hillenbrand and his wife, Doby (Delores D.). The couple financed the stadium and initial landscaping project, and the Hillenbrand family has continued to contribute funds to support Arizona softball and Wildcat athletics.

The family has provided tremendous support for a number of UA athletic programs through gifts to develop and support the UA's aquatic center, the baseball stadium and Arizona's football program. Another focal point in daily Wildcat athletics is the John W. Hillenbrand Meeting Center, named in memory of Bill's late father. That facility gave the athletics department a main auditorium, a half dozen classrooms and meeting rooms, and various office spaces used for the athletics department's mentoring programs and its Commitment to Athletes' Total Success (C.A.T.S.) program.

The NCAA has found the facility to be a quality site for postseason play as well, with The University of Arizona playing host to NCAA Regionals in 14 of the stadium's 16 years of existence. Regional (FSN) and national (ESPN, CSTV) television networks have also found the Wildcats and the stadium to be attractive to their audiences for a number of broadcasts since the facility was built for the 1993 season, including over 20 nationally televised contests in the last four years. All games attract a solid contingent of fans, area television and print reporters.

Hillenbrand Stadium and its success in helping bring Division I collegiate softball into increased national focus made it a national model in the early 1990s for dynamic softball programs. As on-campus college softball facilities go, it had elite status for several years until it engendered considerable copying. Today, major universities around the country are putting their teams in facilities with style and substance.

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But Hillenbrand maintains one special feature, which makes it second to none -- the infield, outfield and foul territories provide a top playing surface. Tucson's climate and round-the-year maintenance keep the facility in game-ready condition more than 300 days per year. Aside from the .923 home winning percentage, Arizona and visiting teams alike enjoy the facility for its playing surface. In 2004, the infield was rebuilt with new clay and soil composition.

The University of Arizona softball program moved into the facility for the 1993 season and went out and proved it was equal to the trappings by winning consecutive NCAA championships and leading the nation in attendance in 1994 and 1995. UA added another back-to-back NCAA title splurge in 1996 and 1997, a sixth title in 2001, and the most recent back-to-back championships in 2006 and 2007. The outfield fence is festooned with those and other championship banners. UA also has won 10 Pac-10 titles since moving into Hillenbrand Stadium. The Cats also led the nation in attendance for three years from 2000-2002.  Arizona has led the nation in attendance since 2006, when it brought home a seventh national championship.

Arizona in Hillenbrand Stadium

Seasons: 20

Overall: 583-69 (Through 2013)

Pac-10/12 Games: 206-53

NCAA Regionals: 57-5

Top Winning Streaks

70 games, May 5, 2000 - April 6, 2002

45 games, May 3, 1996 to March 6, 1998

29 games, 1995-96

28 games, 1993-94

26 games, 1994-95

Yearly Attendance

Year Total Games Average
1993 8,808 12 734
1994 21,057 16 1,316**
1995 25,261 17 1,486**
1996 20,748 15 1,383
1997 22,294 14 1,592
1998 28,651 20 1,433
1999 28,189 21 1,342
2000 34,581 26 1,330**
2001 46,499 28 1,661**
2002 49,140 28 1,775**
2003 35,711 23 1,553
2004 32,273 25 1,291
2005 32,811 24 1,367
2006 33,594 26 1,292**
2007 44,487 28 1,588**
2008 39,435 21 1,877**
2009 44,249 18 2,458**
2010 57,868 23 2,516**
2011 77,129* 30 2,570
2012 55,882 24 2,328
2013 46,255 21 2,202

 

*NCAA record

**led nation in average

Top 30 Crowds in Hillenbrand

1. 3,541 3-26-04, USA National Team
2. 3,227 5-9-03, UCLA
3. 3,161 4-7-02, UCLA
4. 3,004 5-11-01, UCLA
5. 2,987 4-30-02, Arizona State
6. 2,896 5-29-10, Brigham Young (NCAA)
7. 2,895 4-18-09, California
8. 2,890 3-29-96, UCLA
9. 2,854 3-5-11, Minnesota & Idaho State (DH)
10. 2,844 4-26-08, Oregon State
11. 2,817 3-9-11, Creighton
12. 2,811 4-19-03, Arizona State
13. 2,804 4-24-09, UCLA
14. 2,801 4-19-09, California
15. 2,794 5-14-10, UCLA
  2,794 4-10-09, Arizona State
17. 2,789 3-12-11, Baylor
  2,789 3-13-11, Baylor
19. 2,778 4-22-11, Arizona State
20. 2,775 4-24-10, Oregon State
21. 2,773 4-5-02, Washington
22. 2,751 3-4-01, Oklahoma
23. 2,748 3-14-10, Minnesota
  2,748 4-17-10, Stanford
25. 2,746 5-7-99, UCLA
26. 2,739 5-4-02, Stanford
27. 2,738 5-20-11, Harvard (NCAA)
28. 2,737 3-17-95, UCLA
29. 2,732 5-4-13, Arizona State
30. 2,730 4-16-11, Washington

 

Stadium Debut: 1,272 crowd, Feb.13, 1993, vs. Texas San Antonio

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