Regarded as one of the top college basketball arenas in the nation since opening its doors in 1969, the Jon M. Huntsman Center has provided an imposing homecourt advantage for Utah basketball. For a structure that is beginning its 31st year of existence, a feeling of newness still pervades underneath the silver dome.
But don't let the pristine picture fool you. As scerene as the the Huntsman Center may look empty, when the Utes are on the floor and fans are in the stands, the place transforms into a madhouse.
Last year, an average of almost 14,000 rabid fans packed the 15,000 seat arena every game to watch their nationally ranked Utes win their fifth consecutive Western Athletic Conference regular-season title. Playing in the Huntsman Center is definately an advantage for the Runnin' Utes. In the last 10 years during the Rick Majerus era, Utah teams have won 92 percent of their home games (137-12). The Utes have a 368-83 (.816) record in the facility all-time.
Utah went 14-0 at home in 1998-99 to post its sixth undefeated home season in the 30-year history of the facility. Five of those undefeated home seasons have come under Rick Majerus. The Utes have also never lost back-to-back home games with Majerus on the sideline.
The Utes enter the 1999-2000 season with a 35-game homecourt winning streak, which is the third-longest active streak in the nation and the best in school history. Utah has also posted two other win streaks of 20 games or better. The U. posted home winning streaks of 27 games from Jan. 29, 1994 to Jan. 2, 1996 and 20 games from Nov. 24, 1990 to Dec. 7, 1991.
The building, a landmark on the U. campus, is the perfect place to watch a basketball game. A great view is assured from each of the 15,000 chair seats. Inside Sports recognized the Huntsman Center's superiority by naming it one of the top five collegiate arenas in the nation.
Long before his Cliff Huxtable days, Bill Cosby was the first performer in the Huntsman Center (formerly the Special Events Center). A couple of nights later, college basketball made its JMHC debut. Basketball greats like Chris Mullin, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Darrell Griffith, Danny Ainge, and Tom Chambers have played under the dome--the largest of its kind in the world--as well as current hoop superstars Sean Elliott, Gary Payton, Shawn Bradly, Tim Duncan and, of course, the Utes' own Keith Van Horn.
Long recognized as a site of championships, the Huntsman Center has housed many major events, including numerous national championships, regional championships and a number of elite competitions. In 1979, the building played host to the NCAA Basketball Championship "dream match" featuring Bird and Johnson-- deemed one of the most successful Final Fours ever held. The men's NCAA regional tournament received a Huntsman Center booking in 1984, `85, and `87, and the NCAA first and second rounds took place in the arena in 1988, `89, `90, `91, `93, `95 and `97. The JMHC is in third place among the nation's arenas for most NCAA Tournament basketball games hosted, with 63 games having been played in the facility. The NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament returns for its 11th booking in 16 years in March with the West Region first and second rounds.
The Huntsman Center has also played host to eight national gymnastics championships --which made their last visit in 1999--and the 1993 World University Games Trials.
The enormous reflective silver dome envelopes more than the arena itself. Underground tunnels stretching 2,220 feet connect the arena with the four-building physical education complex. In the center of the arrangement is the beautiful glass-enclosed natatorium, home of the Utah men's and women's swimming teams and site of the 1970 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships.
From its perch at the southeast end of the campus, the Huntsman Center stands sentinel over the University of Utah. Inside the dome are athletic coaches' and administrative offices, locker rooms and concession stands. The famous "steel cloud," a huge mass of steel and concrete, hangs from the dome's interior and holds the scoreboard, and the public address and lighting systems. Prior to the 1994-95 season, a new electronic scoreboard, featuring four 9x12 foot video display screens, was installed to enhance JMHC's look even further. The scoreboard provides statistical updates, instant replays and live game action.
In mint condition, the Huntsman Center has kept pace as one of the finest athletic facilities in the nation.
Utah's Top 15 Crowds in the Huntsman Center
|14.||San Diego State||1996||15,375|
|15.||San Diego State||1991||15,358|