Tucson Historic Sports Venues and Artifacts: Early Arizona football opponents stayed at Hotel Heidel

(Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson)

NOTE: The third in a series of tracking down lost or forgotten sports venues, trophies and artifacts in the Old Pueblo.


Now called the MacArthur Building, Hotel Heidel was built in 1907 directly across from the train depot in downtown Tucson on Toole Avenue. The building remained a hotel of sorts until 1979 – it now houses Madden Media. It was built in a “flatiron” style to fit the rectangular style of the lot.

John Heidel opened his hotel on Feb. 21, 1908, with Albert Steinfeld, Herbert and Harry Drachman and W.J. Corbett in attendance and the sports history from the early days is impressive. Oh, and the hotel also housed the first telephone in Tucson.

Heidel previously owned the Cactus Saloon on the same plot in 1889 and he built the Armory Plaza Apartments in 1890.

J. Fred “Pop” McKale coached Tucson High to its first state championship in 1911 and his parents made a trip to Tucson a week later from Michigan to congratulate him and they stayed at the Heidel Hotel.

A couple of years before that visit, the Chicago White Sox came to the Old Pueblo in 1909 for an exhibition game played at Elysian Grove on March 30 and the team stayed at the Heidel. Most of the University of Arizona football opponents stayed at the Heidel until the late 1920s.

Photos from today and from 1907-1910:


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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