Jon M. Huntsman CenterEdit profile
Jon M. Huntsman Center (formerly known as the Special Events Center) is a 15,000-seat multi-purpose arena on the campus of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah. The arena opened in 1969 and is named after 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 (now known as the EnergySolutions Arena) 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 additional of state-of-the-art rear projection video screens. The rear projection system was upgraded in 1995. 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, although many have been second-tier events since EnergySolutions Arena opened. 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. When Utah joins the Pac-12 for the 2011 season, the Huntsman Center will be the largest arena in the conference, though Arizona's McKale Center (currently the largest in the Pac-10) averages higher attendance .