Jon M. Huntsman Center
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|Former names||Special Events Center (1969-1987)|
|Location||1825 East South Campus Drive
Salt Lake City, UT 84112
|Owner||University of Utah|
|Operator||University of Utah|
|Record attendance||16,019 (March 6, 2015, Women's Gymnastics vs. Michigan)|
|Opened||November 30, 1969|
($67.1 million in 2016 dollars)
|Architect||Bruce H. Jensen|
(Men's & Women's Basketball, Women's Gymnastics)
The arena opened in 1969 as the Special Events Center. In 1987, it was renamed 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 Delta Center in 1991, it was Salt Lake City's premier sports and entertainment venue. Architecturally, it is known for its steel cloud, which hangs from the arena's silver dome interior. The steel cloud holds 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 added a new floor, LED lights, sound system, drapes and two grand entrances to house a Hall of Fame and Legacy Hall.
The arena hosted the 1979 Final Four, featuring the first round of the rivalry between all-time greats Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Magic's Michigan State team defeated Bird's then-unbeaten Indiana State in the final, 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.
The facility hosted the 1989 Western Athletic Conference men's basketball tournament.
Today the 15,000-seat arena is still 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 the EnergySolutions Arena.
The Huntsman Center has hosted the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament 12 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.
With Utah joining the Pac-12 for the 2011 season, the Huntsman Center is the largest arena in the conference.
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