The Arena Pulse: No.23-The Pit (New Mexico)
It’s never easy to go on the road in college basketball. This is a top-25 breakdown of some of the toughest and most intimidating venues in college basketball.
Venue: University Arena
School Name: University of New Mexico
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico
It may be one of the more underrated venues in college basketball today. However, since the mid-1960s, University Arena can truly attest to the phrase “home court advantage.”
Known more simply as, The Pit, University Arena prepares to enter its 44th season as the hosting venue for the University of New Mexico’s men’s basketball team. With an overall winning percentage of over .800 since its opening in 1966, the Lobos can be quick to say they enjoy playing at home.
Throughout the past few decades, The Pit has had its fair share of big moments. On a national stage, University Arena has been the host for the Final Four. And, in 1983, in one of the more famous college basketball scenes in history, Jim Valvano is seen running around the court after his Wolfpack upset heavily favored Houston to win the National Championship.
Known for its intimidating and hostile fans, The Pit is perceived as one of the loudest venues in college basketball. With a packed arena of 18,000 screaming fans a night, this is of no surprise. During the 1998-'99 season, in a game against visiting Arizona, fans at University Arena registered as the loudest in college basketball that year.
On a more literal note, University Arena is built in a 37-foot hole on Albuquerque’s southeast mesa, hence the name, The Pit. And Lobo fans couldn’t enjoy it anymore. Since, ranking in the top 20 in attendance leaders every year since its opening in 1966, it is clear New Mexico fans love their basketball. In 1999, Sports Illustrated included The Pit in its list of the “Top 20 Sports Venues of the Century,” a list that includes the likes of Fenway Park, Roland Garros, and Wrigley Field, as well.
With only one NCAA Tournament appearance since 1999, the Lobos have had trouble returning to the national prominence it once had during the 1990s. However, fans have remained loyal enough each and every game and any team that enters The Pit needs to prepare for one of college basketball’s more hostile environments.
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