Fire Restrictions for The Pit Lifted
Feb. 2, 2011
Albuquerque, N.M. --- The State of New Mexico Fire Marshall John Standefer has lifted the temporary fire restrictions that have been in place for most of the basketball season after final tests of the smoke removal system proved successful. .
The state-of-the-art fire detection system and sprinkler system has been fully operational since the beginning of basketball season. The smoke removal systems went through rigorous testing over the last several months and final tests were conducted by the fire marshall's office nearly a week before the university's self-imposed January 31 deadline.
"We are pleased to have the fire restrictions lifted for basketball," said Tim Cass, senior associate director of athletics and the point-person for the renovation of The Pit. "The state-of-the-art smoke removal system is cutting-edge technology, and The Pit has never been safer."
Cass added, "Flintco has done a remarkable job with the construction and renovations of The Pit. The magnitude and time schedule associated with this project was one-of-a-kind, and for us to have more than 70 events in The Pit during the renovation is incredible. Also, we can't thank our fans enough for their patience over the past 18 months, who came to so many events while the building was being renovated. We have averaged well over 14,000 fans for the past two years during the renovations, and as our basketball coaches say, we truly have the nation's best fans."
"It's important to know that we are still tinkering and adjusting things in the building."
By having fire marshall approval, it will now allow for a greater variety of concessions, including the addition of french fries and chicken strips to the menu. The renovated Pit has had an upgraded variety of concessions, including regional foods such as Mexican fare and everything from former staples of nachos and popcorn to newer favorites such as grilled chicken sandwiches, a carvery,fresh pizza and green chile stew.
The smoke removal system is not only new to the building, but had to be customized to the unique contours and dimensions of The Pit, where the court sits 37-feet below street level. The smoke removal system was custom designed for The Pit, and is the first of its kind in The Pit. With the smoke removal system in place, the three-minute grace period on the fire alarms will be put back in place. The Pit had a three-minute grace period on fire alarms for the previous 40+ years of The Pit's existence, but it was removed while the removal system was being installed and tested.
The lifting of the fire restrictions is one of the final pieces of the puzzle for the renovation of The Pit, one of the most famous college basketball venues in America. The smoke removal system is one of many brand new features in The Pit, along with various technology upgrades, including two new video boards and 153 flat screen video monitors around the building. Fans also now have wider aisles in the lower seating bowl with handrails, family restrooms among the numerous new restrooms added to The Pit, a modernized Lobo Den and Ticket Office, a new entry way, the Frontier Golden Pride Foyer, and ADA seating and parking that exceeds federal requirements. In fact, ADA parking around the building nearly quadrupled to 160 spaces (in previous years The Pit had 44 ADA spaces, and only 23 are required by code) and all restrooms in the facility are now ADA compliant.
Other amenities at The Pit include a drop-off circle from University Drive where fans can be dropped off literally just a few feet from the front doors. Along with wider concourses and scenic views of the surrounding Albuquerque vistas, the concourses contain historical documentation of the history of Lobo athletics through the use of graphics, photos, and interactive touch-screen kiosks.
The workforce on the project was 95% New Mexico contractors. Despite the renovations to the building, the Lobo men and women's basketball teams did not miss a single home game, and both teams ranked among the top 25 nationally in attendance last year. The NCAA women's basketball championships will hold their first and second rounds March 19 and 21, 2011 at the Pit, and the 2012 NCAA men's basketball championships second and third rounds will be held at The Pit as well.