Three seasons ago, Adia Barnes launched an impromptu Twitter campaign and was even willing to auction off her husband just to get 5,000 fans to pack McKale Center for an WNIT game.
Now, Arizona women’s basketball will easily clear that number every home game.
UA athletic director Dave Heeke said Wednesday that the program has added roughly 2,000 new season-ticket holders for the 2021-22 season and that “that number will still grow significantly.” That’s in addition to the 2,800 already-existing season ticket holders and the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of walk-up tickets that will be sold on game days.
It’s a testament to the Wildcats’ on-court success over the last few years. They were the doormat of the Pac-12 when Barnes took over the program in 2016 but have rapidly improved since then, winning the WNIT in 2018-19, then reaching the program’s first-ever Final Four and finishing as the national runner-up in 2020-21.
Tucson has bought into what Barnes, who seems to be as good of a marketer as she is a coach, is selling. The average annual attendance numbers reflect that:
- 2020-21 — N/A (COVID)
- 2019-20 — 5,944/game
- 2018-19 — 3,675/game
- 2017-18 — 1,933/game
- 2016-17 — 1,839/game
The women’s basketball team has gotten so popular that Arizona is changing its attendance policy this season, no longer offering general admission tickets.
Ticket prices have risen, too. General admission season tickets were $75 for the 2019-20 season. Now, season tickets range from $95 to $165 depending on the seat location. Or $400 for courtside season tickets, which used to be $175.
Despite losing All-American point guard Aari McDonald to the WNBA, the Wildcats are expected to compete for a Pac-12 title with a core that includes all-conference seniors Sam Thomas and Cate Reese.