UC Santa Barbara Events Center

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Events Center
The Thunderdome
UCSB Events Center back.jpg
Full name UC Santa Barbara Events Center
Former names Campus Events Center
Location Santa Barbara, California
Coordinates 34°24′49.65″N 119°51′4.13″W / 34.4137917°N 119.8511472°W / 34.4137917; -119.8511472Coordinates: 34°24′49.65″N 119°51′4.13″W / 34.4137917°N 119.8511472°W / 34.4137917; -119.8511472
Owner University of California, Santa Barbara
Executive suites None
Capacity 5,600 (for basketball)
5,814 (maximum)
Record attendance 6,512 on December 18, 1991
for Men's Basketball vs. Ohio State
Scoreboard Yes
Built 1979
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos men's basketball
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos women's basketball
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos women's volleyball

UC Santa Barbara Events Center, previously known as the Campus Events Center, also known as The Thunderdome, is a 5,600-seat, indoor multi-purpose stadium on the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara in Santa Barbara, California.

History of The Thunderdome[edit]

The Thunderdome was built in 1979, originally under the name of Campus Events Center. Along with Harder Stadium, it has since become one of the most patronized venues at UC Santa Barbara. After a naming contest and vote among students and faculty (which included some tongue in cheek nominations such as "Yankee Stadium", the Jerry Brown Arena, the Corrugated Fortress), it was eventually given the generic name "Campus Events Center". Eventually, the name was unofficially shorted to the "ECen" (much like UCSB's University Center being called the "UCen").

For basketball, the stadium seats 5,600.[1] Other configurations result in differing capacities, most notably 5,814 as a maximum (for boxing or wrestling)[2] or 3,584 to 4,848 for concerts.[3][4] Currently, the 5,600 seat stadium is the third largest arena in the Big West Conference, behind the 10,200-seat Stan Sheriff Center at the University of Hawaii and the 8,000-seat UC Davis Pavilion. The floor of the Thunderdome was named by Bleacher Report as the 11th best court design in college basketball.[5]

Transformation into The Thunderdome[edit]

At first, crowds were small, but with the hiring of Jerry Pimm in 1983, the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos men's basketball program began to experience greater success. As the size of crowds began to increase (often exceeding the stated capacity), the Events Center gained a reputation as one of the loudest and most hostile venues in college basketball, creating significant problems for opposing teams.

After UCSB (led by future Laker Brian Shaw) upset Jim Valvano's North Carolina State Wolfpack team by double digits in 1987 before a sellout crowd, the Events Center acquired the unofficial nickname "The Thunderdome". Credit has been given to the athletic director at that time, Stan Morrison, for having coined the nickname. Also many believe it was further reinforced from Valvano himself when he said in a postgame interview, "It was louder than thunder in there tonight."

The Tortilla Technical[edit]

During the 1980s, students threw toilet paper onto the court after the first Gaucho basket. After the school cracked down on this practice around 1990, students started a new tradition of tossing tortillas onto the court like frisbees after the first UCSB basket.[6] The team would then be assessed a technical foul for delay of game while the tortillas were cleaned up, a tradition that became known as "The Tortilla Technical."[7]

During an early 1990s game, one of ESPN's professional video cameras was ruined when tortilla fragments got into the mechanism. While UCSB paid for a replacement camera, ESPN was skittish about returning to the Thunderdome. Despite continued pleading from the players and coaches to stop the practice, the tradition continued unabated. When ESPN finally returned to the Thunderdome for a 1997 game against Pacific, the game was interrupted by three "Tortilla Technicals," including one incident late in the game where a tortilla nearly hit coach Jerry Pimm in the face.[6][8] Following this incident, UCSB officials began searching students for tortillas as they entered the arena. Apart from a few sporadic instances of tortilla-tossing, the novelty has worn off.

While the tortillas have stopped flying at The Thunderdome, raucous students have brought the practice to Harder Stadium, home of the 2006 NCAA champion UC Santa Barbara Gauchos men's soccer team, where no such penalties are enforced.


UC Santa Barbara Gauchos athletics[edit]

Thunderdome hosting students about to graduate in June 2012.

The Thunderdome is the home to teams of the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos athletic program. Currently, the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos men's basketball and UC Santa Barbara Gauchos women's basketball teams, as well as the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos women's volleyball team all call The Thunderdome home. In 2002, 2,794 fans attended a women's volleyball match between UCSB and the USC Trojans in which the 9th ranked Gauchos upset USC 3 games to 1.

Other events[edit]

The facility also hosted and the first and second round games of the 2004 NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Tournament. In addition to sporting events, The Thunderdome has seen many concerts, boxing matches, and performances come through.

Dave Chappelle performed comedy on June 2, 2004, while The Killers played at The Thunderdome on April 6, 2007 and the Harlem Globetrotters played an exhibition game on February 15, 2007.

The center hosts basketball camps by Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. These camps take place during the summer months. Michael Jordan's camp has happened yearly for several years and the Kobe Bryant camp has been happening since the summer of 2010.[9][10][11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Floor Plans: Basketball". UC Santa Barbara Events Center. Retrieved October 10, 2009. 
  2. ^ "Floor Plans: Wrestling and Boxing". UC Santa Barbara Events Center. Retrieved October 10, 2009. 
  3. ^ "Floor Plans: Concert (Alternate)". UC Santa Barbara Events Center. Retrieved October 10, 2009. 
  4. ^ "Floor Plans: Concert (Standard)". UC Santa Barbara Events Center. Retrieved October 10, 2009. 
  5. ^ Novak, Thad (June 30, 2013). "Ranking the 20 Best Court Designs in College Basketball". Bleacher Report. Retrieved April 20, 2016. 
  6. ^ a b Reid, Jason (1997-02-15). "Santa Barbara's Pimm Is Pipping Hot Over Fresh Tortilla Controversy". Los Angeles Times. 
  7. ^ Brewer, Ray. Live blog: Rebels survive UC Santa Barbara challenge, prevail 94-88 in double overtime. Las Vegas Sun, 2011-11-30.
  8. ^ Shi, Yier (1997-02-14). "Santa Barbara Upsets UOP 75-69 Despite Three Tortilla Technicals". The Daily Nexus. 
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ [2]
  11. ^ [3]

External links[edit]