Summer Vacation: The Arizona Wildcats Hall of Champions provides a sports escapeby Scott Terrell on Jul. 26, 2010, under Sports
The start of the 2010 college football season is still more than a month away. You’ve already read all the preview magazines and the online predictions. What are you supposed to do now?
If you’re a fan of the Arizona Wildcats you head to the Hall of Champions.
The Jim Click Hall of Champions is located in the Eddie Lynch Athletics Pavilion (getting the big-booster naming rights out of the way). It’s a mixture of hall-of-fame-type displays and museum-esque history lessons that make it a great place to get your Cardinal and Navy fix as you wait for the summer to end.
Displays are introduced each year so there’s always something new waiting for you. If you haven’t made a pilgrimage in the past two years you have to go just to see the Territorial Cup up close.
As you walk through the front doors you might expect the Cup to be in the center of the room drenched in light and serenaded with angelic harps. It’s actually off to the side in a small display. I suppose the message is, “Act like you’ve won it before, because you have, 46 times.”
The Territorial Cup itself isn’t very big. If you poured a couple Thirst Busters in it the cup would overflow. It looks every bit like the oldest rivalry trophy in the nation (especially one that was lost for a few decades).
You can get face time with all your favorite trophies and analyze the artistic design. For example, the 1998 Holiday Bowl trophy (a football perched atop what appears to be a crystal wave) is much better looking than the 1993-’94 Fiesta Bowl trophy (a couple football players on a log). Even the trophy from the 1985 Sun Bowl that ended in a tie is more attractive than that of the biggest bowl win in school history. Go figure.
On the side wall shelves of old trophies from every sport reach up to the ceiling. If you hunt around you can find proof that Arizona did in fact win two outright conference football championships…in 1935 and ’36. No rush on the next one.
The history portion of the hall is very diverse. You have the Kit Carson Rifle which was the trophy in the Arizona/New Mexico football rivalry for over 50 years before being discontinued in the 1990s (and it’s a good thing too, since the Lobos would now have possession of the Rifle after the 2007 and ’08 embarrassments).
There’s a Wilbur the Wildcat costume from the ‘50s that is rather creepy. Wilbur could have used a dentist and some Visine back then.
You have polo equipment from the 1920s. There’s Button Salmon’s catcher’s mitt. Pop McKale is present thanks to his baseball jacket, cap, eyeglasses and a piano. There’s even a blanket displaying the varsity letter earned by Pike Day, a member of Arizona’s first football team in 1899.
Recent College Football Hall of Fame inductee Chuck Cecil didn’t get a bust like Ricky Hunley but you can see his helmet and the football he carried over 100 yards to help beat ASU in 1986.
Jay Dobyns has a display that includes his Hells Angels rings (which had to be harder to get than any championship ring).
If that’s not enough, at the back of the hall is an entrance to the McKale Center. You can take a quiet walk through the empty arena, gaze up at the retired jerseys (and leotard), or use one of the trough urinals in the ancient bathrooms (now there’s a museum).
Yes, the UA Hall of Champions has something for everyone. You can’t beat the price (free) and you can’t beat the location (next to free Saturday parking in the Cherry Avenue garage). You can beat the Tucson heat and you can kill some summer time.
Hang in there. The Cats kick off the 2010 football season five weeks from Friday.