The Jon M. and Karen Huntsman Basketball Facility, a state-of-the-art, $36 million, 101,000-square-foot structure, opened northeast of the Huntsman Center arena on Oct. 1, 2015. The four-story building features a legacy hall, separate glass-enclosed upper levels for both the men’s and women’s programs, and a rooftop terrace.
Regarded as one of the top college arenas in the nation since opening its doors in 1969, the Jon M. Huntsman Center has provided an imposing home advantage for Utah teams. The storied venue is celebrating its 50th anniversary season in 2019-20.
Since opening its doors in November of 1969, the Huntsman Center has been the home to some of the greatest moments in Utah basketball, gymnastics and volleyball history, as well several NCAA Championship events. Commencements for the University of Utah and area high schools, concerts and numerous other special events have also taken place inside the 15,000-seat arena.
More than eight million fans have watched the Runnin’ Utes in the Huntsman Center, where the team is 603-150 (.801) all-time with winning records in 43 of the last 44 seasons—including eight undefeated campaigns. The Utes have averaged more than 12,000 fans at home three of the past four seasons. Utah ranked second in the Pac-12 and No. 24 in the nation in home attendance in 2015-16.
The Huntsman Center ranks third among the nation’s arenas for the most NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament games hosted, with 81 contests taking place in the facility. The JMHC played host to the 1979 NCAA Basketball Championship “Dream Match-Up” featuring Indiana State’s Larry Bird and Michigan State’s Magic Johnson. The men’s NCAA regional tournament came to the Huntsman Center twice (1971 and ‘81). First and second round games took place 13 times (most recently in 2006). The JMHC has hosted NCAA women’s basketball first and second round games twice (2001 and ‘11).
Also a famous women’s gymnastics venue, the Huntsman Center has hosted a record nine national gymnastics championships—one AIAW and eight NCAA Championships (most recently in 2007). Utah has also hosted 14 regional meets (most recently in 2018) and two Pac-12 Championships (most recently in 2015).
Women’s basketball has hosted NCAA tournament first and second round games in 2001 and 2011. The NCAA women’s volleyball tournament visited the Huntsman Center for the first time in 2017 with the Utes winning the Salt Lake Sub-Regional.
Architecturally, the Huntsman Center was once well-known for its steel cloud, which hung from the arena’s silver dome interior and held the center court scoreboard, sound and lighting systems. The roof support beams are made out of wood, which made the weight of the steel cloud vital to holding them in place. The building was designed with pristine acoustics in mind.
The Huntsman Center underwent a $6 million renovation in the summer of 2014. The original ceiling cloud was replaced with a super grid structure. Energy efficient LED arena lighting, which accommodates instant on and off, was installed. A new state-of-the-art sound system and ceiling mounted sound panels provided greater clarity. The project also included a draping system, offering a more intimate setting in the arena’s lower bowl for smaller events with seating for 8,400. In 2017-18, a newly-designed center-hung video display system, four new corner boards hung from the ceiling structure and four boards on the walls of the lower bowl, totaling $4.1 million.