Think Outside the Diamond: Move Off Campus Benefits University of Arizona Baseball

The Arizona Wildcats are one game away from winning the College World Series. On Monday night, the club faces South Carolina in Game 2 of the best-of-three series in Omaha, Neb. One more win gives the Wildcats their first national championship since 1986.

The University of Arizona saw an opportunity to generate interest in downtown Tucson. The move has been a home run for Wildcats baseball.

It has been a great year for Arizona baseball, both on the field and in the bank. Alicia Jessop of Business of College Sports profiles how the team has seen an increase in revenue thanks to a move to an off-campus stadium.

On the surface, this doesn’t seem to make any sense. If anything, schools typically look to move into facilities that are closer to campus. Why would Arizona move farther away? It turns out Athletic Director Greg Byrne saw an opportunity for his team to connect with the downtown Tucson community. From Jessop’s story:

“We felt that if we could re-engage Tucson with our baseball program, it would have a tremendous impact for us this year and many years to come,” Byrne said.

The team moved off-campus from Jerry Kindall Field at Frank Sancet Stadium to Hi Corbett Field, which previously served as the spring training homes of the Cleveland Indians and Colorado Rockies. The school invested $350,000 to update the stadium and brand it in university colors.

The move was a huge success. The Wildcats earned $350,000 in ticket revenue, more than five times what they brought in during the 2011 season. The club also had the second-highest attendance in the Pac-12, averaging 2,628 per home game. With the team’s success, Arizona was also able to host the NCAA Regional and Super Regionals, which brought in more money to the program. All told, the Wildcats fared nearly $175,000 better than they did in 2011.

The lesson other schools can learn from Arizona is not to be afraid to leave home. Though having a stadium on campus typically means better student attendance rates, Byrne and Arizona recognized they would be able to capitalize on the local community’s interest by moving closer to downtown. Several other schools could undoubtedly benefit from a move off campus by generating interest in their community. The key is to think outside the box, or diamond.

Photo (cc) by Ken Lund and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Nick on December 21, 2012 at 1:16 am

    Nice story, but there is a HUGE problem with one assumption. Hi Corbett field is actually further from downtown Tucson than the University is. The Wildcats’ new suburban facility is located between two golf courses and a shopping mall. Beer sales and the (mis)perception of more parking are what is really at work here.

    The bigger story is why people listed parking as the biggest problem with the campus stadium (despite the free covered parking adjacent to the field) but flock to a suburban ballpark with an unshaded parking lot.

    Reply

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