The Ivy League announced Wednesday that it has postponed all sporting events until at least January 1 due to the coronavirus pandemic, effectively postponing fall sports like football, volleyball and soccer.
The Ivy League has not ruled out resuming them in the spring, and some believe that is a precursor for the rest of Division I.
Condensing fall sports into the spring semester poses at least one big issue: facility space. The Arizona Wildcats, for instance, host men’s basketball, women’s basketball, volleyball and gymnastics events in McKale Center.
What could happen if all those sports are played in the same semester and McKale cannot host every event?
Here are some venues they could turn to in desperation. (Please note that some of these options are much unlikelier than others, and who knows if the NCAA and/or Pac-12 would sign off on them, but let’s have some fun with it!)
Bear Down Gym
Bear Down Gym opened in 1926 and was the premier indoor sports facility at the UA until McKale Center opened in 1973. It then served as a recreational facility for UA students, hosting intramurals, P.E. classes and other activities.
When the Old Main renovations began in 2012, some of its population was relocated to Bear Down Gym, which has been used for academic purposes ever since. BDG now hosts the Think Tank, where students go for advising and (mostly) free tutoring.
In its heyday, Bear Down Gym regularly hosted 3,000 fans, more than Arizona volleyball typically averages for its matches (a little less than 2,000).
BDG didn’t have air conditioning back then, but that changed when the Think Tank moved in. It’s highly unlikely (and probably a non-starter if we’re being honest) that UA would move them out in order to have BDG host athletic events again, but it sure would be an amazing dose of nostalgia if it happened.
Richard Jefferson Gymnasium
Thanks to a $3.5 million gift by former UA basketball star Richard Jefferson, the Wildcats opened the state-of-art Richard Jefferson Gymnasium in 2009. It’s where men’s basketball, women’s basketball and volleyball practice and train.
Space for games is aplenty here, as RJ houses two full basketball/volleyball courts running east to west. They are painted just like the one in McKale Center too.
RJ also is just a short walk from McKale, meaning teams could still dress in McKale before strolling over to RJ for competition. RJ doesn’t offer much excess space, though, so hosting games would probably only be an option if fans are not permitted.
UA student recreation center South Gym
The rec center’s South Gym houses three full-sized (I think?) courts running east to west. If a basketball game or volleyball match was held on the middle court, there would be plenty of room to add bleachers along the sidelines to seat fans. The UA rec center is only a half-mile from McKale Center, so teams could still dress there before taking a short drive south across 6th Street.
(However, it must be noted that I once won a student media basketball championship at the rec center, so anyone taking the court here has big shoes to fill.)
With a capacity of roughly 8,000 and two recently-renovated locker rooms that are used to accommodating minor-league hockey teams, Tucson Arena most closely resembles what McKale Center offers. However, it is 2.4 miles southwest of campus, and the UA would be battling with the Tucson Roadrunners (minor league hockey) and Tucson Sugar Skulls (indoor football) for access.
Plus, UA would likely have to pay to lease Tucson Arena just as those other organizations do, posing even more logistical issues.
Tucson High Magnet School
Just west of the rec center on 6th Street, Tucson High is less than a mile from McKale Center and is already equipped to host volleyball and basketball games. High school basketball courts are typically 10 feet shorter than college courts, but based on the photo above there does seem to be space for expansion.
Of course, the Badgers have their own sporting events, so gym access might not be realistic for Arizona, and who knows how easy it would be to get permission to play there. The optics of playing at a high school are not ideal, either.
Davis Sports Center*
Space is not scarce in this 74,000-square foot, climate-controlled facility, and it’s right across the street from McKale, meaning it’d just be a matter of putting down a hardwood surface (is that as easy as it sounds?) and working with football, soccer and other UA sports that use it to avoid scheduling overlaps. But the only reason it would be a better option than RJ is because there is room for fans.
*This one was added late