It’s almost time to Bear Down in Tucson. The University of Arizona Wildcats are set to start their 2021 season, their first under new head coach Jedd Fisch. As the team seeks a fresh start and seeks to build a path to glory, tailgating at the University of Arizona is also returning after an abbreviated 2020 season.
We’ll help you with the best tips, suggestions, and recommendations for tailgating at the University of Arizona.
Before Game Day
Wildcats 2021 Home Schedule
The University of Arizona faces these teams at Arizona Stadium in 2021. All games are on Saturday, except where noted.
- Sept. 11th – San Diego State
- Sept. 18th – Northern Arizona
- Oct. 9th – UCLA
- Oct. 22nd (Friday) – Washington
- Nov. 6th – California
- Nov. 13th – Utah
Rivalry Games: Conference matchups with other Pac-12 teams are always high-intensity, so UCLA, Washington, California, and Utah should be on your radar. The Wildcats travel to play their biggest rival, Arizona State, in Tempe this year.
The Wildcats offer a variety of purchase options for football fans, including season tickets, flex plans, and family 4-packs. Watch their online ticket office as these plans, as well as single-game tickets, are released over the summer. Whatever you do, get your tickets in advance.
Travel, Accommodations, and Transportation
The University of Arizona is located in Tucson in the southeast portion of the state of Arizona. Here are some suggestions for getting there and where to stay.
Traveling to Tucson
Driving: Interstate 10 is the main thoroughfare that goes through Tucson. You may take I-8, I-17, or I-19 to get to I-10, depending on where you’re traveling from.
Air Travel: Tucson International Airport (TUS) serves eight airlines and takes in nonstop flights from several U.S. cities, mainly from the Southwest and Pacific Coast. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), about 110 miles northwest, is a major hub that serves more cities.
Rail: The Tucson Amtrak station is a little more than one mile from the University. Amtrak’s Texas Eagle and Sunset Limited lines both stop in Tucson.
Nearby Hotels and Accommodations
Tucson is the second-biggest city in Arizona, so there are plenty of hotels in the area. Those closest to the University are Graduate Tucson, Marriott University Park, Aloft Tucson University, and Adobe Rose Inn. There are many more hotels in downtown Tucson, as well. Here are some of TripAdvisor’s suggestions.
Make sure your hotel or motel can accommodate your rig and tailgating equipment if you’re planning to host your own tailgate party. If it can’t, consider getting a residential rental through Airbnb or a similar service instead.
Getting to Arizona Stadium
Sun Tran is Tucson’s transit service and has several routes that serve the University. Routes 3 and 9 pass by the stadium. The University also runs its own shuttle service, Cat Tran. Several hotels also run shuttles to the University.
How to Tailgate at University of Arizona
Wildcat fans have turned tailgating at the University of Arizona into an art that’s steeped in Southwest style and tradition. Here are some tips on making the most of game-day festivities.
Where to Tailgate at University of Arizona
Virtually all of Tucson gets behind the Wildcats on game days. All around the University, parking lots and lawns fill up with the faithful in red and blue. Some of the top sites for tailgating include:
The UA Mall
The Mall is the center of tailgating at the University of Arizona. It’s where season pass holders gather with tents, grills, furniture, and beverages six hours before kickoff at every home game.
Both private tailgaters and corporate sponsors have huge presences on the Mall, so it’s where you’ll want to focus at least part of your tailgating experience. It’s also one of the more picturesque spots for tailgating, with rolling grass lawns and desert trees dotting the landscape.
Bear Down Field
This practice space by day is just north of the stadium. On game days, it hosts the Coca-Cola Fan Fiesta and GameDay Grill, along with family-friendly pre-game events and a diverse array of food options. It’s also where football fans can catch up on other NCAA games with a bunch of large-screen TVs.
Tailgating at University of Arizona: Rates and Rules
Season and Single-Game Tailgating Passes
The University sells season passes for tailgating at the Mall. To get one, you have to have season game tickets for at least two seats and pay for a membership in the Wildcat Club. Season passes cost $400 annually, $500 if your vehicle is longer than 30 feet. RVs get the prime real estate on the Mall, but cars and trucks aren’t too far away.
For other tailgating sites on campus, you can purchase single-game tailgating passes for $80 for each game ($90 for RVs).
The University of Arizona has some regulations on tailgating, including:
- No alcohol consumption after kickoff
- No charcoal grills or wood fires — gas grills are okay
- Pass holders are limited to their own reserved spaces
- Electric generators allowed if they’re quiet — no gas generators
Check out UA’s policies and rules on tailgating here.
Tailgating at University of Arizona: Traditions
The Arizona players’ and coaches’ march to the stadium is a tradition that started in 2010. The team buses wind through the crowds and disembark near the corner of University Boulevard and Cherry Avenue. The marching band accompanies them, as fans line up along the route to get a close-up view.
Bear Down Fridays
These are super-sized pep rallies that take place the night before the game on University Blvd. The marching band plays, the cheerleaders lead cheers, and occasionally, a Wildcat coach shows up to give the crowd some inside perspective, which basically amounts to cheerleading.
The marching band plays a free post-game set in the administration building after each show. When they’re done, they ring a bell in the clock tower and scream “bear down!” It’s the small things that make it extra special.
Off-Campus Food and Drinks
If you’ve wandered off the Mall and haven’t got a ticket to the game, you’ll have no shortage of places to grab a drink, have a bite, and watch the Wildcats on TV.
Bars Near Arizona Stadium
Dirtbags is a sports bar near the northeast corner of campus, and they have a long, very moving connection with University students and alumni. We recommend hitting this place whether you’re tailgating or not.
Here are Google Maps’ suggestions for bars in and around the University area.
Restaurants Near Arizona Stadium
Trident Grill & Pizza Pub is a Tucson chain specializing in classic American food in a casual atmosphere. They have a franchise near the University on E. Speedway Blvd. Take a walk north on Campbell and you’ll find a few more options like Baja Cafe, Yoshimatsu Japanese Eatery, and the swanked-out Pastiche Modern Eatery.
You also owe it to yourself to get some Mexican food whenever you’re anywhere in the state of Arizona. Guadalajara’s Grill & Tequila Bar is a fine place to start with several locations in Tucson, including two fairly close to the stadium.
See TripAdvisor’s recommendations for restaurants near the University.
Arizona Gameday Gear
With the new season fast approaching, it’s time to get some new Arizona Wildcat game day gear to rep at your tailgate.
If your pop-up tent is in need of a refresh, this is a great chance to show your team pride at your tailgate. This Logo Brands one is a solid one and can be easily purchased at Amazon. Linked here.
These Logo Brands tailgate chairs are great. There are quite a few ‘fancier’ chairs out there, but these are all you need for a tailgate party. For the most part, you’re hardly even sitting. You can find them here.
For the grill master in your group – these are a great way to rep your team all summer! Linked here.
For all things attire Fanatics: the University of Arizona is a great place to start. They have something for every member of the family. Be sure to only buy when they have promotions running, which is quite often!
Fanatics also has a fun Arizona: Tailgate & Party section that has cute decorations, car decals, and tailgate games. Outside of cornhole (bags) games, I’d stick to Amazon for your bigger tailgate items like tents, tables, chairs, etc. Or your actual team’s ticket office.
If you’re thinking of upgrading some of your basic equipment, be sure to check out the following blogs:
It’s a season of change for the Wildcats. But tailgating at the University of Arizona remains a one-of-a-kind experience in one of the Pac-12’s most inviting environments.
If you’re traveling with Arizona to other Pac-12 games, be sure to check out our other Tailgater Guides!
Please note: Tailgater Concierge is a participant in the Amazon and Fanatics Affiliate Programs and may receive commissions on purchases. Tailgater Concierge only recommends products that we find valuable for our tailgating community! Thanks!