The Arizona Wildcats will have to wait at least another day to christen the remodeled Hillenbrand Stadium.
Thursday’s home opener against the New Mexico Lobos was cancelled due to heavy rain in the area.
The game will not be made up, but Arizona is scheduled to host a doubleheader against South Florida and Illinois-Chicago on Friday at 3:45 p.m. MST and 6 p.m. MST, respectively.
To read more on the remodeled Hillenbrand Stadium, check out my feature on it.
Arizona still held a ribbon-cutting ceremony after the cancellation was announced. UA athletic director Dave Heeke, president Robert C. Robbins, and head coach Mike Candrea expressed their excitement and gratitude for the new facility.
2,914 tickets were sold to Thursday’s opener. UA softball sports information director Danny Martinez estimates about 900 fans showed up amid the inclement weather.
One of those fans was Kevin Andrews, who has been a mainstay at UA softball games for 18 years and runs an Arizona softball Facebook group with over 2,100 members.
Like Candrea, Andrews was struck by the newness and enormity of the remodeled stadium.
“It’s pretty spectacular,” he said.
Andrews occasionally travels to Arizona’s road games — he was in Tampa last weekend for the USF Opening Weekend Invitational and has been to UCLA and Oregon’s stadiums before — and said the new Hillenbrand Stadium stands above the competition.
“It’s probably the nicest facility in the country,” he said. “That’s gotta be a big recruiting tool.”
It sure is.
“If I’m a kid right now and I walk into this facility, there’s no way in hell I wouldn’t be ready to run through a brick wall,” Candrea said Wednesday.
“So I think it definitely has given them a shot of energy and a shot of pride. I think all these kids understand this didn’t happen over night. We have high expectations here so the bottom line is that we play the game hard and play it well in a great facility.”