"What a terrific atmosphere for college basketball. Great building...great history...18,000 screaming fans. It's big time hoops, baby!" - Dick Vitale ESPN

Check out the Pit

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One of college basketball's most famous and recognizable buildings, University Arena is the home of New Mexico men's and women's basketball.

The 2013-14 season will be the 48th year that University 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 825 games have been played overall. The Lobos have come away the victor in 674 of those, good for a stunning .817 winning percentage.

What is even more impressive about UNM's home court is that over 12 million fans have flocked into this sunken edifice to see their beloved Lobos play basketball. The exact figure stands at 12,728,952. The Lobos have averaged an astounding 15,427 fans the past 46 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 47 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 .

The Pit 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.

Arena 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 new luxury suites and club level seating, upgraded lower bowl seating, two end zone 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 Pit 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 University Arena 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.

2012-13 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 2012-13 season. The Lobo women were eighth while the men finished No. 16.  The UNM men and women together have both finished in the top-25 in each of the past 13 seasons. The rankings:

 

2012-13 NCAA Men's Attendance Leaders
1. Kentucky 23,099
2. Syracuse 22,439
3. Louisville 21,571
4. North Carolina 19,350
5. Indiana 17,412
6. Creighton 17,155
7. Wisconsin 16,843
8. Tennessee 16,635
9. Ohio State 16,524
10. Kansas 16,438
11. Memphis 16,336
12. North Carolina State 16,299
13. BYU 15,986
14. UNLV 15,196
15. Marquette 15,033
16. New Mexico 15,022
17. Illinois 15,013
18. Michigan State 14,341
19. Arizona 14,157
20. Arkansas 13,750
2010-11 NCAA Women's Attendance Leaders
1. Tennessee 11,390
2. Iowa State 9,970
3. Louisville 9,358
4. Baylor 9,160
5. Notre Dame 8,979
6. Connecticut 8,977
7. Purdue 8,515
8. New Mexico 6,450
9. Texas Tech 6,418
10. Texas Tech 6,352

UNM women's attendance the past few years:

Season
Average
Rank
1994-95 397 ---
1995-96 3,501 21st
1996-97 4,863 11th
1997-98 5,010 13th
1998-99 7,470 8th
1999-00 8,918 6th
2000-01 8,712 5th
2001-02 9,229 5th
2002-03 11,896 4th
2003-04 11,865 4th
2004-05 10,674 4th
2005-06 10,355 4th
2006-07 9,582 5th
2007-08 8,638 6th
2008-09 7,420 8th  
2009-10 7,090 9th
2010-11 7,677 7th
2011-12 6,763 10th
2012-13 6,450 8th

UNM has finished in the top-25 for 47 consecutive years, or every season the Lobos have played in The Pit. No other school in the country can make that claim.

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.

Rank
Venue
Location
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.

Directions
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.

Prohibited Items
The following items will not be allowed into The Pit:

  • food, water or beverages of any kind
  • cans
  • bottles
  • alcohol
  • baby seats
  • balloons
  • beach balls
  • coolers
  • explosives
  • fireworks
  • 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
  • signs
  • 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 haggerty@unm.edu.