"What a terrific atmosphere for college basketball. Great building...great history...18,000 screaming fans. It's big time hoops, baby!" - Dick Vitale ESPN
One of college basketball's most famous and recognizable buildings, WisePies Arena, aka The Pit, is the home of New Mexico men's and women's basketball
The 2014-15 season will be the 49th year that WisePies Arena has served as home for Lobo hoops. The first game was played Dec. 1, 1966, with New Mexico defeating Abilene Christian, 62-53. A total of 840 games have been played overall. The Lobos have come away the victor in 687 of those, good for a stunning .818 winning percentage.
What is even more impressive about UNM's home court is that nearly 13 million fans have flocked into this sunken edifice to see their beloved Lobos play basketball. The exact figure stands at 12,728,952 prior to the 2014-15 season. The Lobos have averaged an astounding 15,425 fans the past 48 years.
The Lobos have finished second in the nation in attendance five times, third on four occasions, and fourth six times, and they have been in the top 25 in attendance in each of the last 48 years.
UNM hosted the NCAA Championship in 1983, won by North Carolina State over Houston, the 1968, '78, '92 and 2000 West Regional, the 1985 and 1996 West Region First and Second Rounds, and 1988 McDonald's High School All-American basketball game. The NCAA Men's First and Second Rounds were here in 2002 followed by the Women's First and Second Rounds and the Midwest Regional in 2003. UNM hosted the women's first and second rounds in 2004, 2008 and in 2011, followed by the men's Albuquerque Regional in 2005, the West Regional for the women's tournament in 2006 and the 2012 men's second and third rounds .
WisePies Arena is built in a 37-foot hole on Albuquerque's southeast mesa. First the roof was constructed, then the hole was dug and the Arena built. That all happened in 1966. The unique Behlen roof (338 by 300 feet) was set up by contractors and then 55,000 cubic yards of earth were removed. About 28,000 yards of concrete were poured in the initial construction, which allowed a seating capacity of 14,831. The cost - an incredibly economical $1.4 million.
Expansion was undertaken when it became apparent that fan interest was too great even for the original structure. The expansion in 1975 cost near $2.2 million and involved the extension of a cantilevered deck above the existing facility. There are six rows in the deck, with a seating capacity of 2,300. Reserved standing-room-only spots increase The Pit's capacity to 18,018.
The Pit underwent a massive upgrade and expansion that was completed in time for the 2010-11 season that included $60 million of improvements. Among the improvements were the U.S. Bank club/suites level seating, upgraded lower bowl seating, two end wall video boards, ribbon boards, a unique graphics package showcasing the history of Lobo basketball and UNM athletics, upgraded concessions area, the new Lobo Den Store, and a remodeled concourse. NBA locker rooms were added for both the men's and women's teams along with a player's lounge.
A new practice facility and coaches' offices for UNM men's and women's basketball was completed in April 2006. The new practice facility is named the Rudy Davalos Basketball Center after former UNM athletics director Rudy Davalos.
The facility is located at the south end of the building and includes a practice floor with six baskets, offices for men's and women's basketball, a video viewing room and an area to accommodate media needs for Lobo games and upcoming NCAA basketball tournaments. The 2010 renovations successfully intergrated the Davalos Center with The Pit, allowing Lobo men's and women's basketball to seemlessly move between the two facilities for practice and games and camps.
Bob King Court
On October 2, 1992, University of New Mexico President Richard E. Peck announced that the basketball court at WisePiesArena would be named in honor of Bob King, former UNM basketball coach. King coached the UNM men's basketball team to national prominence in the 1960's.
"We wanted to recognize Coach King's contributions to Lobo basketball," Peck said. "UNM's Memorial Committee recommended that we honor Coach King's accomplishments, and the naming of the court has allowed us to do so without diminishing the recognition which has already been paid to his colleagues, including former Director of Athletics Pete McDavid. The Bob King Court and the Pete McDavid Lounge are a tribute to two of the men who are responsible for the success of the facility we fondly call The Pit."
The Bob King Court was dedicated at formal ceremonies on Dec. 1, 1992.
The floor of Bob King Court was replaced just before the beginning of the 2013-14 seasons. Piece of the previous floor were made available to purchase through UNM Athletics.
On December 1, 2014, University of New Mexico President Robert G. Frank announced that WisePies Pizza & Salad, a locally owned business, has agreed to give $5 million over 10 years to support the UNM Athletics Department through the newly established WisePies Fund. This is the largest cash gift ever to Athletics and the sixth largest cash gift overall to the university. The WisePies Fund will be used to support The Pit debt service incurred from the 2009-2010 renovations.
As part of the recognition for their generous support, beginning December 1, 2014 University Arena will be named WisePies Arena (aka The Pit) for the duration of the gift. The company logo will appear on exterior signage of the arena as well as on Bob King Court and tickets. The recognition will also include an arena suite.
2013-14 NCAA Attendance Numbers:
The University of New Mexico is one of very few schools to have both its men's and women's basketball programs rank in the top-20 attendance during the 2013-14 season. The Lobo women were 12th while the men finished No. 16. The UNM men and women together have both finished in the top-25 in each of the past 14 seasons. The rankings:
2013-14 NCAA Men's Attendance Leaders
2014-15 NCAA Women's Attendance Leaders
Sports Illustrated's Top-20 Sports Venues of the Century
In June, 1999, Sports Illustrated listed its top-20 sporting venues of the century and The Pit checked in at No. 13.
|1.||Yankee Stadium||Bronx, N.Y.|
|2.||Augusta National Golf Course||Augusta, Ga.|
|3.||Michie Stadium (Army Football)||West Point, N.Y.|
|4.||Cameron Indoor Stadium (Duke Basketball)||Durham, N.C.|
|5.||Bislett Stadium (Track & Field)||Oslo, Norway|
|6.||Wrigley Field||Chicago, Ill.|
|7.||Roland Garros||Paris, France|
|8.||Lambeau Field||Green Bay, Wisc.|
|9.||Fenway Park||Boston, Mass.|
|10.||Saratoga Race Track||Saratoga, N.Y.|
|11.||Pebble Beach Golf Course||Monterey, Calif.|
|12.||Wembley Stadium (Soccer)||London, England|
|13.||THE PIT||ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.|
|14.||Boston Marathon Course||Boston, Mass.|
|15.||Camden Yards||Baltimore, Md.|
|16.||Lamade Stadium (Little League WS)||Williamsport, Pa.|
|17.||Daytona International Speedway||Daytona, Fla.|
|18.||Notre Dame Stadium||South Bend, Ind.|
|19.||St. Andrews Golf Course||Scotland|
|20.||Rose Bowl||Pasadena, Calif.|
Located on the southwest corner of Avenida Cesar Chavez and University Boulevard, The Pit can be easily accessed by exiting off I-25, just south of the Big-I, at Avenida Cesar Chavez. Head east on Avenida Cesar Chavez and The Pit is located on the right.
The following items will not be allowed into The Pit:
- food, water or beverages of any kind
- baby seats
- beach balls
- folding chairs
- illegal drugs
- laser pointers
- artificial noisemaker such as horns, drums, bells, whistles, etc. per Mountain West Conference rules
- pets (except service animals assisting those with disabilities)
- weapons of any kind
- any other item that in the judgment of game management staff poses a safety hazard or detracts from the ability of others to enjoy the event Prohibited items must be returned to the owner's vehicle or discarded. Any unlawful items are subject to confiscation, and the person in possession of such items is subject to ejection from the stadium and/or arrest.
Any fans that have questions about any of these items, or if they have any special needs or requests in order to aid in their enjoyment of men's and women's basketball at The Pit can do so by calling 505-925-5608, or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.