Jon M. Huntsman Center

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Jon M. Huntsman Center
Utah gymnastics meet.jpg
Red Rocks gymnastics meet in 2008
Former names Special Events Center (1969–1987)[1]
Location 1825 East South Campus Drive
Salt Lake City, Utah
Coordinates 40°45′43″N 111°50′20″W / 40.762°N 111.839°W / 40.762; -111.839Coordinates: 40°45′43″N 111°50′20″W / 40.762°N 111.839°W / 40.762; -111.839
Owner University of Utah
Operator University of Utah
Capacity 15,000
Record attendance 16,019 (March 6, 2015; gymnastics vs. Michigan)
Surface Multi-surface
Broke ground 1967
Opened November 30, 1969 [3]
Construction cost $10,392,000
($67.9 million in 2017 [2])
Architect Bruce H. Jensen
Utah Utes (NCAA Division I)
(men's & women's basketball,
women's gymnastics)
Salt Lake City is located in the US
Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City
Location in the United States
Exterior in 2009

The Jon M. Huntsman Center is a 15,000-seat indoor arena in the western United States, on the campus of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. It is the home of the Utah Utes of the Pac-12 Conference, the primary venue for basketball and gymnastics.


Opened 47 years ago in late 1969 as the Special Events Center,[3] it succeeded Nielsen Fieldhouse as the campus' primary indoor arena.[3] It was renamed in 1987 in honor of chemicals entrepreneur and philanthropist Jon M. Huntsman, father of Utah's former governor Jon Huntsman, Jr.

From its opening until the completion of the Vivint Smart Home Arena in 1991 (as "Delta Center"), the Huntsman Center was one of Salt Lake City's premier sports and entertainment venues (along with the Salt Palace (1969–1993), the home of the Utah Stars (ABA) and Utah Jazz (NBA).)

Architecturally, it was once known for its steel cloud, which hung from the arena's silver dome interior. The steel cloud held the arena's center court scoreboard, sound and lighting systems. The scoreboard was upgraded in the 1980s with the addition of state-of-the-art rear projection video screens. The rear projection system was upgraded in 1995, and replaced in 2006 by four LED video screens. In 2014, the arena was renovated again. The $6 million project removed the steel cloud, as well as added a new floor, LED lights, sound system, drapes, and two grand entrances to house a Hall of Fame and Legacy Hall.

The facility hosted the 1989 Western Athletic Conference men's basketball tournament.

The 15,000-seat multi-purpose arena is home to the University of Utah's "Runnin' Utes" basketball teams (men's and women's) and "Red Rocks" women's gymnastics team. It also hosts concerts, mostly second-tier acts; most premier concerts have been hosted at what is now Vivint Smart Home Arena.

Utah joined the Pac-12 in 2011 and the Huntsman Center became the largest arena in the conference.

NCAA Tournament[edit]

The Huntsman Center has hosted the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament twelve times (1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, 2000, 2003, and 2006). It has twice hosted the West Regional Final (1971, 1981) and one Final Four in 1979. Due to the frequency of hosting first and second round games, the Huntsman Center is second all-time in NCAA Tournament games hosted, with 81.

1979 Final Four[edit]

The arena hosted the 1979 Final Four, featuring the start of the rivalry between all-time greats Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.[4] Magic's Michigan State team defeated Bird's previously unbeaten Indiana State in the final,[5][6][7] which remains the most-watched college basketball game in history. Many observers consider the Magic-Bird rivalry established here and carried into the NBA when both entered the league that fall to be a major factor in the league's 1980s renaissance.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Attendance and Sites". 2014 Men's Final Four Records Book (pdf). Indianapolis, IN: NCAA Publications. 2014. p. 138. Retrieved February 20, 2015. 
  2. ^ Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved January 2, 2017. 
  3. ^ a b c Scott, Ron (December 2, 1969). "No dust, less noise for Utes". Deseret News. (Salt Lake City, Utah). p. B1. 
  4. ^ Keith, Ron (April 2, 1979). "They caged the Bird". Sports Illustrated. p. 16. 
  5. ^ "'Magic act' gives MSU NCAA title". Deseret News. (Salt Lake City, Utah). March 27, 1979. p. A1. 
  6. ^ Ewer, Bill (March 27, 1979). "Magic keeps a promise and MSU reaches NCAA title goal". Deseret News. (Salt Lake City, Utah). p. 4B. 
  7. ^ "Michigan State grounds Bird - wins title". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. March 27, 1979. p. 17. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Jon M. Huntsman Center at Wikimedia Commons

Preceded by
NCAA Men's Division I
Basketball Tournament
Finals Venue

Succeeded by
Market Square Arena