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Arizona basketball's return a win for fans and businesses in Tucson

Wildcat fans gather before Tuesday's women's and men's basketball season openers.
Posted at 10:17 PM, Nov 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-10 00:36:42-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Basketball season is back at the University of Arizona. And the buzz is not just in the arena, but all around the Tucson area.

In a town filled with basketball fans, last season’s COVID-19 restrictions kept most at home and prevented fans from gathering at McKale Center for games.

Fans returning is a welcome sight for the bars and restaurants near campus, like those on University Boulevard. Even non-sports bars, like Snakes & Lattes—are expecting a net gain.

“We still benefit from it because we get all the fans, the friends, the family, even the teammates come through here,” Snakes & Lattes bartender Wesley Kirvan said. “I think that’s how we benefit from it, is being able to provide that service, that fun, relaxed atmosphere for everyone.”

Trident Grill has become a Wildcat fan favorite for watching all kinds of sports, but especially basketball.

“We’re very happy the season’s back,” kitchen manager Daniel Ramirez said. “I’ve been living in Tucson for 20 years now. And I’ve been at this restaurant for six years. And ever since I’ve been here, like, I’ve never seen such a big support for a team… I mean, men’s and women’s. Everyone just shows out.”

And when the women’s team made its run to the title game last season, Ramirez says Trident was humming with business every step of the way.

“Everybody was just ready to watch this team, you know what I mean?” he said. “They wanted to see how far we could get. We thought we had a good team to just take it all.”

Some fans have been following the women’s team for decades, making this recent success even sweeter.

Nancy Symons and her husband have been dedicated fans for nearly 20 years. They drove up from Green Valley for last week’s women’s exhibition game and again on Tuesday for the regular season opener.

“When Coach [Adia] Barnes came, everything just kind of started going up,” Symons said. “And it’s been really a wonderful journey for us to watch the team,”

Now, for the first time in more than 18 months, they won’t have to watch the team on TV.