Thomas & Mack Center
The arena has hosted various sporting events and other entertainment since opening in 1983.
Panoramic view of the inside of the arena during a basketball event.
Aerial view of the outside of the entire building, including views of the Cox Pavilion.
Backstory and Context
In 1999, the arena received funds to complete a major interior and exterior renovation. By 2008, new visual equipment was installed including a 4-sided LED scoreboard, a new shot clock system for the backboards, six wall-mounted locker room game clocks, two custom scoreboards which include player stats, and an outdoor marquee LED billboard. These upgrades made the arena more advanced and allowed for other opportunities. In 2001, the Cox Pavilion, a smaller arena, was added to the facility for smaller events such as women’s basketball and volleyball.
The arena was previously nicknamed “The Shark Tank” after coach Jerry Tarkanian, the head coach during the arena’s opening, won a national championship and led the team to three Final Fours in 1990. Other events held at the stadium include the 1994-1995 Big West Conference, 1997-1999 Western Athletic Conference, and the 2000-2003 Mountain West Conference. The Mountain West Conference stayed at the arena from 2007 to 2013. In 2007, for the first time in NBA history, an on-campus college sports arena held an NBA All-Star Game. Previously to this, the arena also hosted two other NBA games for the Los Angeles Lakers and Utah Jazz. The Utah Jazz used the center during the 1980s. In 1984, Kareem-Abdul-Jabbar broke Wilt Chamberlain’s record for points in a career. In 1992, the Lakers used the arena for Game 4 of their playoff series. The center hosted the Los Angeles Lakers pre-season games annually until 2014.
Numerous football games have been played in the Thomas and Mack Center. In fact, the arena was formerly the home to the Las Vegas Sting, Las Vegas Gladiators, and the Las Vegas Outlaws. By 2005, the center hosted the Arena Football League’s ArenaBowl. Both the ArenaBowl XIX and ArenaBowl XX held at the Thomas and Mack Center were the first-ever neutral-site title games. In 2005, the ArenaBowl XIX the Colorado Crush defeated the Georgia Force with a score of 51-48, for the Foster ArenaBowl Trophy.
Other sporting events hosted at the Thomas and Mack Center have brought various people together for sports. The center hosts the National Finals Rodeo each December. In 1984, the USA Olympic volleyball team held their competition here. In September of 1992, boxing legend, Julio Chavez fought Hector “Macho” Camacho. From 1999 to 2015, the arena held the PBR World Finals. UFC 43 and other mixed martial arts championships have been held at the arena. Concerts, music festivals, and conventions are regularly hosted by the center. Several famous bands such as Motley Crue, AC/DC, Van Halen, Metallica, Pearl Jam, Kiss, Guns N’ Roses, and Aerosmith have performed at the arena. Lectures have been given by famous names such as Bill Clinton and Mikhail Gorbachev. On October 19, 2016, the final Presidential debate was hosted here.
Miech, Rob. Las Vegas awarded Mountain West tourney through 2013. Las Vegas Sun. June 02, 2009. https://lasvegassun.com/news/2009/jun/02/las-vegas-awarded-mountain-west-tourney-through-20/.
Rhoden, William C. COLLEGE ATHLETICS; Built on Big-Time Basketball, U.N.L.V. Tries to Scrub Its Image. The New York Times. July 01, 1991. https://www.nytimes.com/1991/07/01/sports/college-athletics-built-on-big-time-basketball-unlv-tries-to-scrub-its-image.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm.