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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Ticket sales high for first season at Hi Corbett Field

There are still 35 days until the start of Arizona’s baseball season but the UA has already more than doubled season ticket sales.

Prospective season-ticket holders got their first look at the UA’s new home at Hi Corbett Field during a select-a-seat event last Saturday, and senior associate director of athletics James Francis said the school sold about 500 season tickets — up from 180 sold for the 2011 season.

Athletic director Greg Byrne said he hoped the move off campus would help cut the baseball program’s operating deficit by about $250,000 through increased ticket sales and increased concession revenue. Beer will be sold for the first five innings of each home game.

Still, Byrne said he was taken aback when he showed up a few minutes late to the event, which was scheduled to start at 9 a.m., and saw a line of fans wrapping around the outside of the stadium.
“It was great, wonderful to see,” Byrne said.

Head coach Andy Lopez said the team hopes to be entirely moved into the facility around Jan. 19, and the Wildcats will continue to hold individual workouts at Sancet Stadium until then. The first official day of practice is Feb. 1.

“We’ll never have anything but unbelievable emotions for the field at Sancet Stadium, but what a great time for these young guys,” Lopez said. “If we do what we’re supposed to do, it’ll give us a chance to host some regionals here.”

The facility at Hi Corbett Field offers the baseball program nearly three times the space it had while on campus, including covered and lighted batting cages, a small room housing rehabilitation equipment and an auxiliary practice field. There’s also an academic room at Hi Corbett, where tutors will be available throughout the day so players don’t have to make the drive back to McKale Center where most athletic facilities are housed.

The team’s locker room will feature two flat-screen TVs and a wall decorated with the logo of each school in the Pac-12 Conference. There will also be a large block “A” painted on another wall.

The video board that’s been in use at Sancet Stadium will be moved behind the left-field fence at Hi Corbett Field, and the team’s shower and training facilities won’t be shared with other teams like they are while the team played on campus. There will also be a small weight room at Hi Corbett, but the majority of the team’s weight training will still be done on campus.

But while enough remodeling was finished for the team to be able to move in before the season starts, there’s still work to be done. Lopez said “we’ll see how it goes” this season as far as moving the outfield fences closer to home plate, Byrne said there are still a number of improvements he’d like to see at the stadium.

“In time, we’re going to want to improve the video technology that we have out here,” Byrne said. “People may notice that I like video boards, so you’ll see that at some of our venues.”

Improving the seating surrounding the field is something that will happen in the next few years, Byrne said, and shaping the facility into one that’s recognized as belonging to the UA won’t happen overnight.

There’s also going to be a trial-and-error process to figure out the best way to run day-to-day operations during the first season at the stadium.

“What will happen will be an evolution,” Byrne said. “Four, five years from now, it’ll look even more branded to the University of Arizona. But even the initial steps we’ve taken … I’m really impressed with how it’s coming together.”

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