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Historic Arena Turns 50 Tomorrow

One Albuquerque arena turns 50 tomorrow.

The five-decade-old sports arena, which is widely regarded as The Pit, will hit a historic half-century mark, according to The Albuquerque Journal.

Former University of New Mexico men’s basketball coach Bob King catapulted Lobo basketball, as he coached the team to two Western Athletic Conference championships in the 1960s. Because of the monumental success, crews built a 37-foot hole in the ground in 1966, naming it University Arena. However, that was scrapped as UNM students repeatedly called the structure the Pit.

In 1966, the legendary college arena was built for $1.4 million before its value increased to $2.2 million in 1975, allowing 18,018 fans to cheer on the Lobos. Three decades later in 2009, the arena underwent a $60 renovation.

Henceforth, some exceptional talent rolled through the arena, including the likes of Danny Granger, Michael Cooper, Mel Daniels, Ron Nelson, Greg “Stretch” Howard, Kenny Thomas, Ira Harge and Luc Longley.

Legendary coaches John Wooden and Bob Knight, who once considered coaching UNM, graced the arena, too.

Though the gym is notable for its collegiate and high school basketball, the arena houses tennis matches, boxing matches and gymnastics as well.

UNM will commemorate the arena tonight when the men’s basketball team takes on Abilene Christian. And on Saturday, the Lobo women will pay homage to the arena when they face SMU.

The anniversary, officially, is Dec. 1, which, of course, is tomorrow.

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