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Arizona baseball: Field of Arizona dreams

Wildcats would love to host NCAA regional at Hi Corbett Field
2012-05-09T00:00:00Z 2012-05-09T06:55:34Z Arizona baseball: Field of Arizona dreamsRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
May 09, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Arizona Wildcats officials are building a case for Hi Corbett Field.

Over the last few weeks, they have tested the 85-year-old ballpark's lights, taken pictures of the visiting dugout, crunched attendance numbers and built a budget.

On May 18, with the click of a mouse, the UA will formally submit a bid to host an NCAA baseball regional.

Should the bid be accepted - and, given the 14th-ranked Wildcats' record and reputation, their chances are good - it would mark a historic moment for the program.

Arizona last hosted a regional in 1992, when Pepperdine - coached by Andy Lopez, now the UA's skipper - stunned the Wildcats. The Waves went on to win the national title.

That year, Pepperdine beat the odds. Hosting regionals can pave the way to advance to Super Regionals and, eventually, the College World Series.

The 64-team field will feature 16 regional sites with four teams at each.

"The statistics prove that when you're at home, your chances of advancing are outstanding," Lopez said.

Here's a look at the bid process, how it works and Arizona's odds of hosting:

How it works: The NCAA baseball committee awards regional bids to 16 sites based on a number of factors, including the team's success on the field, average attendance, amenities and ease of travel.

Hosts must guarantee the NCAA $50,000 in ticket and concessions sales and be prepared to cover the difference if it falls short. The NCAA receives 75 percent of all revenue should it exceed the initial guarantee.

The UA should cover that figure easily: The Wildcats average 2,257 fans per game this season, most in the Pac-12. Its new/old stadium boasts two clubhouses and ample practice fields for a four-team, double-elimination tournament.

"Word travels well in this sport. Coaches know," said Matt Brown, the UA athletic department's director of operations and the man in charge of submitting the bid. "Every team that comes through here has been nothing but complimentary."

Who gets bids: The NCAA factors in success, facilities, amenities and, it says, location. But college baseball remains intensely regional.

Four of last year's 16 hosts (UCLA, Arizona State, Cal State-Fullerton and Oregon State) came from the West. The remaining 12 sites were spread among seven states, none of them north of the Mason-Dixon line. The state of Texas hosted four regionals: Austin, College Station, Houston and Fort Worth.

The reason? College baseball's popularity in southern states means more attendance, exposure and revenue for the NCAA.

Arizona's chances: The Wildcats' record - they're 30-15 with 10 regular-season games remaining - and Hi Corbett's attendance and Tucson's strategic positioning make the UA a natural fit as regional host. (Arizona last submitted a bid in 2008.)

Rival Arizona State cannot play in the posteason because of NCAA rules violations, and few southwestern teams are expected to even bid to host.

The Wildcats' odds of hosting - and advancing - are getting better by the day. Seven of the eight teams that made last year's College World Series started their runs as regional hosts.

"You need to host," UA athletic director Greg Byrne said, "to get to Omaha more consistently."

The series

• What: Arizona at California, all games on 1290-AM

• Friday: 3:30 p.m.

• Saturday: 1 p.m.

• Sunday: 1 p.m.

By the numbers

23-11

Arizona's all-time record when hosting NCAA regionals. The UA held its first regional in 1953, where it went 1-2 against Texas

8

Number of times Arizona has advanced to the College World Series after hosting regionals

1

National championship won, in 1980, after hosting a regional

1992

The last time the Wildcats hosted a regional

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