Tucson Historic Sports Venues and Artifacts: The Polo Grounds was the place to be

1924 captain Jimmy Hearon is about to score. (UA File Photo)

Lt. Colonel Ralph M. Parker started Polo at the University of Arizona in 1922. The first matches were played where the football stadium now stands because the ground was solid caliche. The program went on to beat teams like Ohio State and Oklahoma while winning the Western Intercollegiate Championship six times before the team was disbanded in the middle of 1942 due to the war effort. The team also beat four programs from New York which earned the program the Eastern Championship.

The team eventually moved over to the Polo Grounds in 1924, located on 160 acres that filled up the area west of the Arizona Inn down to the southern boundaries of where Banner UMC is located now. It was a huge complex that housed the ROTC, stables and other student facilities and the first rodeo arena before it was moved over to the current rodeo grounds. At that time, the Tucson rodeo was called the “Great American Cowboy Midwinter Rodeo.”


We know the Polo Grounds extended all the way down to Adams and Warren because the Board of Supervisors voted to end the expansion of Elm, Lee and Adams at Cherry Avenue, “…in the University of Arizona Polo Grounds” in 1940. This vote also paved the way for vacant land later used by UMC.  The entrance to the polo field itself was located on Vine and Elm. The empty grounds were later used for married student housing by Arizona. Bricks used for the stables can be found around trees and plants near the hospital

There is no doubt the Arizona Polo Team was the first national power on campus. Major Delmore S. Wood was the last Wildcat coach.

Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014, he was awarded the Ray McNally Award in 2017, a 2019 AZ Education News award winner and he has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. He was the first in Arizona to write about high school beach volleyball and high school girls wrestling. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here and on AZPreps365.com. Andy is the Southern Arizona voting member of the Ed Doherty Award, recognizing the top football player in Arizona, and he was named a Local Hero by the Tucson Weekly for 2016. Andy was named an Honorary Flowing Wells Caballero in 2019, became a member of the Sunnyside Los Mezquites Cross Country Hall of Fame in 2021 and he was a member of the Amphi COVID-19 Blue Ribbon Committee and he earned a Distinguished Service Award from Amphitheater. Contact Andy Morales at amoralesmytucson@yahoo.com

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