A deal between the University of Arizona and the city of Tucson will keep Hi Corbett Field open for another generation of baseball fans.
Under the 25-year agreement, the UA will take over the day-to-day management of the baseball stadium, which was once was the spring training home of the Colorado Rockies and Cleveland Indians.
The city will forgo the $262,000 in annual rent and the university will assume the maintenance of the aging facility and has pledged to invest more than $3 million into the stadium, where the Wildcats baseball team practices nearly year-round and plays its home games.
The UA will pay the city $10 per year in rent under the new lease and the city will also get 2 percent of food, beverage and merchandise sales at the stadium.
The Wildcats moved to Hi Corbett from the on-campus Kindall/Sancet Stadium at the start of the 2012 season, then promptly won the College World Series.
The Wildcats drew an average of 3,043 fans per game at Hi Corbett in 2016, the 19th-best total attendance mark in the country for NCAA Division I baseball teams and the top attendance for teams in the West region.
Suzy Mason, the UA’s senior associate athletic director in charge of operations, said the UA will invest in new lights, stadium seating and batting cages, as well as other investments.
Hi Corbett is one of the NCAA’s oldest facilities: It opened in 1927 and was host to a handful of semi-pro teams. The Indians began holding spring training there in 1946.
Mason said both the university and the city benefit from the new agreement.
“It’s sort of a win-win for both sides,” she said.
The university had already made some large investments in the property before the agreement, installing some new seating, a new electronic scoreboard as well as a new netting system. The latter removed several large columns that made it difficult for some fans to watch the game.
Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, an avid San Francisco Giants fan, remembers spending many afternoons watching spring training games at Hi Corbett. “This is a great deal,” Rothschild said.