Over the years, and since it was built in 1966, I've seen dozens of basketball games at the world-famous Pit in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The place is incredible, because one doesn't think a place can get so noisy, until you attend a game there in person! (woof-woof)
The Universtiy of New Mexico Lobos (grey wolf) play all their home games at the Pit, and a loyal following of fans keep the place jumping. You don't know what noise is, until you attend a game here. (woof-woof)
The Pit, originally known as University Arena, is a basketball-only arena in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It serves primarily as the home for the University of New Mexico Lobos, the basket ball team. (woof-woof)
The arena seats 15,411 for basketball, and has 40 luxury seats; and 350 Club seats. The Pit opened in 1966, and was known as 'University Arena' until late 2009, when the school officially changed its name to its nickname. (woof-woof)
Prior to the building of the arena, the men's basketball team played their games at the Johnson Gymnasium, a 7,800 seat multi-purpose venue on the University's Main Campus. However, with the surge of popularity following the hiring of Bob King and the team's appearance in the Finals of the NIT (National Invitational Tournment), it was decided that a new and larger arena was needed for the team's growing and dedicated following. (woof-woof)
The design of the Pit won international recognition for chief architect Joe Boehning, who still lives in Albuquerque. The arena was built with its floor lying 37 feet below grade, giving rise to its now famous nickname. The 338 by 300 foot Behlen roof was fuilt first...before the pit was excavated and the concrete poured for the foundations. There are no support pillars in the seating area of the arena, so there are no obstructed views. The compact area; steep grade; and the proximity of the seats to the floor contributes to the legendary noise level. Originally, seating was 14,831 of the $1.4 million arean (inexexpenive even in its time), opened on December 1, 1966, with the New Mexico Lobos defeating Abileen Cristian College 62-53. (woof-woof)
In 1992, and to honor the coach who made the arena's construction possible...the basketball arena was named the Bob King Court.
The Pit has a reputation as one of the loudest arenas in the country, often resulting in painfully high decible-levels. Traditionally, fans make the shape of of a wolf's head with their hands...and the howl and 'woof' like wolves...creating a very hostile playing environment for the visitors. (woof-woof)
The Lobos averaged 15,559 fans through the first 40 years of the Pit, and reaned in the top ten nationally in attendence every season from the opening of the Pit in 1966 through the 2000-2001 season. Over 11.5 million fans have visited the Pit through 2008, which translates to 95% of its all-time capacity. The Lobo men's basketball team, has returned the favor, byk winning 631 of 776 games played at the Pit through 2009-10 basketball season, for a .820 winning percentage...along with 14 NCAA tournment appearances and 15 NIT appearances since the opening of the arena. (woof-woof)
My Two-Cents; To make it simple for the reader to understand, the Pit is simply a huge hole in the ground, and all the seats are underground. The only things that are above ground level, and the roof; the lobby; the restrooms; and concessions, etc. Once the visitor steps down on his or her first step...he or she is underground. And, about 4 stories down...is the basketball floor, which looks tiny, until you get down the steps a bit. And, that's another reason why this place is so noisy...all the screaming and yelling is trapped down in a hole...with not much place to go. (woof-woof)
My Two-Cents; In the 1960's and 70's, UCLA dominated college basketball, winning ten national titles. In 1968, the quarter-finals were held in Albuquerque at the Pit, and I was honored to be there, to see this incredible UCLA team in person. When the team took the floor, I was awed by the likes of Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abul Jabbar); Mike Warren; Lucious Allen; Lynn Shakelford, etc. And, of course the legendary John Wooden. UCLA went on to win another national title. I will never forget that day as long as I live...
My Two-Cents: I think the best game I have ever seen in the Pit, was not a college game...but, a high school game in the New Mexico State Basketball Tournment. Hobbs High School was like UCLA in college...they dominate high school basketball in New Mexico. Hobbs High School is located in southeast New Mexico, across the river from Lubbock, Texas on the state line. Hobbs High School is usually favored to win another state championship.
Hobbs High School came to the State Tournament that year with a 30-0 record and were favored to win another state championship. But, El Dorado high school of Albuquerque, had different intentions. With a standing-room only crowd at the Pit of 18,000 fans...the semi-finals began between Hobbs High School and El Dorado High school of Albuquere. Hobbs High school has always been relentless, with their fast-break, and full-court press for the whole game. The rotate all their players, and it's no surprise when they score over 100 points per game. Just like UCLA...Hobbs high school is just tenacious!
It was going to be quite a job for El Dorado high school to keep this Hobbs team in check, if they were to have any chance of willing. But, El Dorado did it with a stunning defense...they cut Hobbs off at the pass all night long, and made them take bad shots! I've never seen a better defense than I saw that night, when El Dorado put on such a show, in front of 18,000 fans. (can you imagine...18,000 fans for a high school game?) El Dorado was impressive, as they won the game by 3, and upset the #1 team in New Mexico that year. The 18,000 fans blew the roof off the Pit that year....and there was celebration all over the city. What an incredible game! El Dorado went on to win the New Mexico state championship that year.
This piece would not be complete, unless I mentioned the success of the Lady Lobos...
The Lady Lobos basketball team also enjoys the home court advantage. The Pit has become one of the roudiest places in all of women's college basketball. The Lady Lobos have compiled a 187-41 record, under coach Don Flanigan. The women's program have also been in the top ten nationally, in average in attendence in each of the last ten years. In 2007-2008, the Lady Lobos averaged 8,638 fans per game...6th in the NCAA. On nine different occasions, they have filled the Pit to its 18,018 capacity. Four times, they sold out NCAA torunment games, when the capacity was 16,000.
The arena has been reviewed by many different sources. Basketball writer likened a visiting teams experience to, "watching Roman galdiators emerging into a wall of sound!" During the 1988-1999 season, the Pit registered at 118 decibles, for the loudest crowd in the country. ...two decibles ahead of Duke's Cameron Staduim. (some sources have claimed that the arena has been as loud as 125 decibles at times). In 1999, Sports Illistrated listed the Top Twenty Venues of the Century, and the Pit came in at #13...ahead of such locations as Datona International Speedway; Notre Dame Stadium; St. Andrews Golf course; and the Rose Bowl.
* * *
Remember, if you ever visit the Pit for a Lobo game...don't forget to scream at the top of your lungs...woof-woof!...GO LOBOS!
NOTE; In the 2012 of the NCAA Basketball Tournament, the Lobos won their first game against Long Beach State...but, lost their second game to Louiville in the second game by 3 points. Louiville went on the the Final Four in the tournament of March Madness!
SITEMAP; 350+ Links For Your Convenience;
Copyright; 2012; Jerry Aragon; The Humor Doctor