The Pit has served as home for Lobo hoops since 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 697 of those, good for a stunning .817 winning percentage.
What is even more impressive about UNM’s home court is that over 13 million fans have flocked into this sunken edifice to see their beloved Lobos play basketball. The exact figure stands at 13,175,685 prior to the 2015-16 season. The Lobos have averaged an astounding 15,410 fans the past 49 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 49 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.
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 increased 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. The facility currently has a capacity of 15,411.
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 integrated the Davalos Center with The Pit, allowing Lobo men’s and women’s basketball to seamlessly 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 in the building 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.
In June, 1999, Sports Illustrated listed its top-20 sporting venues of the century and The Pit checked in at No. 13.
Sports Illustrated’s Top-20 Sports Venues of the Century
|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.