The Pit turns 50 this week, and we celebrate - Albuquerque Journal

The Pit turns 50 this week, and we celebrate

Cassandra Rivera, then age 14, of Albuquerque waves her pom-poms in the crowd of 18,018 that attended the game in the Pit between the Lady Lobos and UNLV on Saturday, February 1 , 2003. (Greg Sorber/Journal)
Cassandra Rivera, then age 14, of Albuquerque waves her pom-poms in the crowd of 18,018 that attended the game in the Pit between the Lady Lobos and UNLV on Saturday, February 1 , 2003. (Greg Sorber/Journal)

 

Bob King invented Lobo basketball. Then when it became apparent it needed a proper home, the good folks of Albuquerque dug a 37-foot deep hole in the ground. That was 50 years ago. It was christened University Arena, but UNM students almost immediately started calling it the Pit. And so it remains. For much of its life, from the outside, it looked like an old warehouse. But on the inside it screamed with a passion for the game for which it was designed.Johnson_Ed_sig

The Pit was built in 1966 for $1.4 million. In 1975, at a cost of $2.2 million, it expanded, giving it 18,018 seats. It underwent a $60 million renovation in 2009.

The Lobos, of course, benefited the most. That includes the likes of Mel Daniels, Michael Cooper, Danny Granger, Ron Nelson, Greg “Stretch” Howard, Luc Longley, Kenny Thomas and Ira Harge.

But there was a team from North Carolina State that thoroughly enjoyed its visit.

John Wooden, the UCLA wizard, walked its sidelines, as did Bob Knight, who once contemplated coaching UNM.

Still, the greatest emotions were often reserved for the high school teams that vied to be the best in the state.

It was where Hobbs’ Ralph Tasker cemented his legend status. It is the place a Hobbs Eagle named Jeff Taylor roamed, as did his son, Jeffrey Taylor, decades later.

Dale, Pete and Brian Shock took Cliff teams to Albuquerque and returned with trophies. Albuquerque High’s Jim Hulsman put on his green blazer and drove down the street to capture some prizes of his own.

Don Flanagan, before he lit a fire under UNM women’s basketball, lifted the Eldorado girls to dynasty status.

But the place also housed tennis strings and guitar strings. There were boxing matches and flights of gymnasts. It was a place where nations gathered.

Today the Journal takes a look at some of the most iconic games and a handful of the unique moments. Later this week, we will enjoy some of our readers’ memories of a building that rests comfortably — and loudly — in the New Mexico earth.

UNM’s PLANS: The University of New Mexico commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Pit during two games this week.

First, the men play Abilene Christian at 7 p.m. on Wednesday — one day before the actual anniversary of the arena’s Dec. 1, 1966 opening against the same team.

Then on Saturday, Dec. 3, the Lobo women celebrate during their 1 p.m. game against visiting SMU.

UNM is offering a promotion in which fans can attend both games for $20, or a family of four can attend both for $70. Rally towels commemorating the anniversary will be given away Wednesday.

https://abqjournal.com/896551/where-memories-h…ade-for-50-years.html

Our Elite Eight: The top Pit games

One shining moment: Pit and Valvano in 1983

The Pit: Awesome from the start

Home » Sports » College » UNM Lobos » The Pit turns 50 this week, and we celebrate


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
Morris Udeze, Lobos pick up individual, team accolades
ABQnews Seeker
Morris Udeze earned UNM's first Mountain ... Morris Udeze earned UNM's first Mountain West men's hoops Player of the Week honor in a few years and the Lobos earned a Top ...
2
UNM women seeking Southern momentum
ABQnews Seeker
Tuesday night in Thibodaux. That's the ... Tuesday night in Thibodaux. That's the latest and final stop on the University of New Mexico women's basketball team's tour of the Southland. The ...
3
New Mexico State football hopes to keep playing
College
Feeling flush from its startling 49-14 ... Feeling flush from its startling 49-14 upset win Saturday at Liberty, New Mexico State hopes its 5-6 football season isn't over yet. NMSU athletic ...
4
Emptying the Notebook: Where Morris Udeze's performance stacks up ...
ABQnews Seeker
Some extra notes, quotes, stats and ... Some extra notes, quotes, stats and analysis from Sunday's Lobo game, including some historical perspective on the game Morris Udeze had.
5
Udeze's monster game, defense late lead Lobos to blowout ...
ABQnews Seeker
Morris Udeze had 33 points and ... Morris Udeze had 33 points and 14 rebounds, earning the Lobo Classic MVP award, and led UNM to a blowout win over Northern Colorado.
6
Emptying the Notebook: House showing growth
ABQnews Seeker
More notes, quotes, stats and analysis ... More notes, quotes, stats and analysis from Saturday's Lobo game, including how Jaelen House's game continues to grow this season.
7
Pretty or not, Lobos improve to 5-0
ABQnews Seeker
UNM's defense was on point Saturday ... UNM's defense was on point Saturday night and a strong second half led the Lobos to their first 5-0 start since the 2012-13 season. ...
8
Lobos top North Dakota State, improve to 5-0
College
The University of New Mexico men's ... The University of New Mexico men's baksetball team defeated North Dakota State 76-55 Saturday during the second day of the Lobo Classic tournament at ...
9
Analysis: If UNM football is to improve, it begins ...
College
No quarterback operates in a vacuum, ... No quarterback operates in a vacuum, OK?There are four other position groups – ...