McNichols Sports Arena

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McNichols Sports Arena
Big Mac
McNichols Sports Arena 1994.jpg
The arena in 1994
Location 1635 Bryant Street
Denver, Colorado 80204
Coordinates 39°44′34″N 105°1′21″W / 39.74278°N 105.02250°W / 39.74278; -105.02250Coordinates: 39°44′34″N 105°1′21″W / 39.74278°N 105.02250°W / 39.74278; -105.02250
Broke ground August 8, 1973[1]
Opened August 22, 1975[2]
Renovated 1986
Closed September 29, 1999
Demolished January 24, 2000[3]
Owner City of Denver
Denver County
Operator City of Denver
Construction cost $16 million
($70.1 million in 2014 dollars[4])
Architect Sink Combs Dethlefs
Structural engineer Ketchum, Konkel, Ryan, & Fleming
Capacity Basketball: 16,600 (1975-1986), 17,022 (1986-1993), 17,171 (1993-1999)
Ice hockey: 15,900 (1975-1986), 16,061 (1986-1999)
Tenants
Denver Spurs (WHA) (1975–1976)
Colorado Rockies (NHL) (1976–1982)
Colorado Flames (CHL) (1982–1984)
Denver Nuggets (NBA) (1975–1999)
Colorado Avalanche (NHL) (1995–1999)
Denver Grizzlies (IHL) (1994–1995)
Denver Dynamite (AFL) (1987–1991)
Denver Avalanche (MISL) (1980–1982)
Colorado Xplosion (ABL) (1996-98)
1990 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament

McNichols Sports Arena (aka Big Mac) was an indoor arena, in Denver, Colorado, USA, adjacent to Mile High Stadium. Completed in 1975, at a cost of $16 million, it seated 16,061, for hockey games, 17,171, for basketball games and contained 27 luxury suites, which were installed as part of the 1986 renovation. It was named after Denver mayor William H. McNichols, Jr., who served from 1968 to 1983. A small-scale scandal surrounded the naming, due to the fact that McNichols was in office at the time.

The arena was largely shuttered after the Nuggets and Avalanche moved to Pepsi Center and was razed in 2000 to make space for a parking lot surrounding INVESCO Field at Mile High.

Sports connections[edit]

"Big Mac" was the home of the Denver Spurs of the WHA from 1975 to 1976, the Colorado Rockies of the NHL from 1976 to 1982, the Colorado Flames of the CHL from 1982 to 1984, the Denver Nuggets of the ABA and NBA from 1975 to 1999, the Denver Avalanche of the MISL from 1981 to 1982, the Colorado Avalanche of the NHL from 1995 to 1999, and the Denver Grizzlies of the International Hockey League from 1994 to 1995.

McNichols hosted the NCAA Final Four in 1990, won by UNLV over Duke University and the West Regional Semifinal in 1996. It was also host to the 1976 ABA All-Star Game, in which the host Nuggets defeated the ABA All-Stars, games 1, 2, and 5 of the 1976 ABA finals, and the 1984 NBA All-Star Game. It also hosted games one and two of the Stanley Cup Finals in 1996, where the Colorado Avalanche defeated the Florida Panthers in four games to bring the Mile High City its first major sports championship.

The arena was the site of the largest crowd ever to see an NCAA college ice hockey game in the State of Colorado, as the University of Denver defeated Colorado College, 3–2, for the Denver Cup championship in 1995, with over 16,000 fans in attendance.[citation needed] However that mark was surpassed on April 12, 2008 when 18,632 people attended the championship game of the 2008 NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Tournament championship game at Pepsi Center.

Another notable event at McNichols took place on December 13, 1983, when the Nuggets hosted the Detroit Pistons in a regular season contest. Nugget players Kiki Vandeweghe and Alex English scored 51 and 47 points respectively, while Piston Isiah Thomas also scored 47 points, with teammate John Long scoring 41 in a 186-184 triple-overtime Detroit win over the Nuggets. The game, still to date, is the highest-scoring game in NBA history, and also holds the record for the most players to score 40 or more points in a single game. However, the game was not televised in the Denver area (instead being shown back to the Detroit market, via WKBD-TV) and was attended by just over 9,300 people. This game has since been broadcast on NBA TV and ESPN Classic.

On October 9, 1987 the US HOT ROD Mud Bog & Battle of the Monster Trucks show was hosted. It was the only monster truck event held at McNichols.

Notable events[edit]

Depeche Mode played 2 concerts there: Singles Tour (Nov. 29, 1998), Devotional Tour (Nov. 2, 1993).

American rock band The Grateful Dead played 13 concerts there, with shows in 1977, 1979, 1981, 1990, 1992, and 1994.

REO Speedwagon's concert from 1981 was performed here, as MTV's first ever live concert.

The Jacksons performed at McNichols Arena on September 3, 1981 during their Triumph Tour.[5]

The arena played host to Amnesty International's A Conspiracy of Hope Benefit Concert on June 8, 1986. The show was headlined by U2 and Sting and also featured Bryan Adams, Peter Gabriel, Lou Reed, Joan Baez and The Neville Brothers.

Parts of U2's half-live rockumentary Rattle and Hum, came from one concert filmed in the arena, on the third leg of the band's 1987 Joshua Tree Tour, including Bono's famous "Fuck the revolution!" speech during "Sunday Bloody Sunday".[6]

Def Leppard recorded one of their shows here in February 1988 and released it as Live: In the Round, in Your Face.

Elvis Presley performed at McNichols Arena on April 24, 1976 to a sellout crowd of 19,000.

Pop superstar Michael Jackson performed two concerts at McNichols Sports Arena on March 23 and 24, 1988 during his Bad Tour.[7]

The bonus tracks on Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble’s album In Step, including “The House is Rockin’” (Live), “Let Me Love You Baby” (Live), “Texas Flood” (Live), and “Life Without You” (Live) were recorded on November 29, 1989 at McNichols Sports Arena in Denver, CO. In this recording of “Life Without You”, Vaughan delivers his poignant monologue on his troubles, with substances abuse and his newly found sobriety. He asks those in the audience to take care of themselves so they can "be there for the ones who love you and need you the most."

The first event of the Ultimate Fighting Championship was held there in 1993.[8] The announcer of the first ever UFC was Bill Wallace. Wallace made a number of errors during the introduction of the show. Firstly he introduced the show as the “Ultimate Fighting Challenge”, and secondly he belched as he said “McNichols Arena” making it sound like he said “Mcniqoolz Areda”. Wallace immediately apologized for the blunder but unfortunately was unable to make up for the error and subsequently lost his position on the show following that night.[9]

Phish performed and recorded their show, on November 17, 1997, which was later released as a live album, entitled Live Phish Volume 11.

ZZ Top performed at the venue's final concert on September 12, 1999.[citation needed]

Final years[edit]

The Colorado Avalanche played their final game on June 1, 1999 during the playoffs versus the Dallas Stars and the NBA's Denver Nuggets played their last game on May 5, 1999 against the Houston Rockets. Though the arena was only 24 years old when it was demolished, like most arenas of the 1970s, it was narrow and dark in the concourse level corridors. In addition, the locker rooms and shower facilities were not updated to NBA and NHL standards. Also, the arena lacked enough luxury suites (27 compared to some newer arenas' 200 or more) and had no club seating. Combined, these factors effectively made McNichols Sports Arena obsolete.

References[edit]

Events and tenants
Preceded by
Denver Arena Auditorium
Home of the
Denver Nuggets

1975–1999
Succeeded by
Pepsi Center
Preceded by
Quebec Coliseum (as Quebec Nordiques)
Home of the
Colorado Avalanche

1995–1999
Succeeded by
Pepsi Center
Preceded by
The Forum
Host of the
NBA All-Star Game

1984
Succeeded by
Hoosier Dome
Preceded by
Kingdome
NCAA Men's Division I
Basketball Tournament
Finals Venue

1990
Succeeded by
Hoosier Dome
Preceded by
Kemper Arena
Home of the
Colorado Rockies

1976–1982
Succeeded by
Brendan Byrne Arena
Preceded by
first arena
Home of the
Denver Grizzlies

1994–1995
Succeeded by
E Center
Preceded by
first arena
Home of the
Denver Spurs

1975–1976
Succeeded by
last arena
Preceded by
first arena
Home of the
Colorado Flames

1982–1984
Succeeded by
last arena