Thomas & Mack Center
Back then there were thousands of unfortunate Runnin' Rebel fans who would have given their first born for a ticket to the game. The cries for a new and bigger home court grew louder as the city and the university grew larger.
Those cries were answered when two prominent Nevada bankers, E. Perry Thomas and Jerome Mack set up the original land foundation and donated the first one-half million dollars for the initial architectural renderings and feasibility studies for the building that now bears their names.
On November 21, 1983, the Runnin' Rebels faced the University of Victoria, Canada, in an exhibition contest at a new gray and red complex on the corner of Tropicana and Paradise roads called the Thomas & Mack Center.
Initially the building's construction plans centered around one event only - college basketball. But over its 23-year history, this one-dimensional concept dramatically changed. Because of many physical attributes, the Center is capable of hosting just about any type of event imaginable.
Prior to the 1999-2000 season, the venue underwent a major, multi-million dollar renovation. The list of improvements included modernized entryways, ticket office expansion, improved restrooms, concession stands and signage, new padded seats and a vibrant new interior design.
As a sporting center, the Thomas & Mack Center has hosted a variety of collegiate events. In 1992, the Thomas & Mack Center was the host for the NCAA Women's West Regional. The WAC Men's and Women's Basketball tournaments were held at the TMC for three years (1997-99), and the next four years (2000-03), the Center hosted the Mountain West Conference basketball tournaments.
The Center has also been home to an array of semi-professional teams including the Las Vegas Thunder of the International Hockey League for six seasons (1993-99), the Las Vegas Sting of the Arena Football League, the Las Vegas Dustdevils of the Continental Indoor Soccer League, the Las Vegas Bandits of the International Basketball League and currently the Arena Football League's Las Vegas Gladiators.
Over the years, the Thomas & Mack Center has made a name for itself in the rodeo world. The National Finals Rodeo, formerly held in Oklahoma City, found a home at the TMC in 1985. Known as the "Superbowl of Rodeo," this annual event has spurred a great boost to the once-sagging December Las Vegas economy. The Professional Bull Riding World Finals are also held at the Center each fall.
The TMC also hosts a wide array of concerts each year. Legends Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Diana Ross and Pavarotti have all performed at the Center. Country stars Hank Williams Jr., Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, Waylon Jennings and Garth Brooks have performed at the venue. Rockers Red Hot Chili Peppers, Stone Temple Pilots, AC/DC, Aerosmith, Guns N' Roses and ZZ Top have made stops at the T&M as have Elton John, Billy Joel, U2, Lionel Richie, Eric Clapton, the Dixie Chicks, Celine Dion and Phish.
Family-style entertainment has also grown at the Center. Family shows include the Harlem Globetrotters, Sesame Street, Barney, World Wrestling Entertainment, Dragon Tales, and Bear In The Big Blue House.
The Center also hosts industrial shows. These types of events depend on the large accommodations, experienced managers and unique floor plans that the Center can offer.
Offering a well-rounded program of events has made the Thomas & Mack Center one of the premier facilities in the West and Amusement Business Magazine consistently ranks the Runnin' Rebels home court as the number one university venue in the country.
THE MEN BEHIND THE TMC
The Thomas & Mack Center is named after E. Parry Thomas and the late Jerome Mack.
Thomas, a longtime resident of Nevada, started his banking career in Utah shortly after his graduation from the University of Utah.
Today, he continues to support a variety of non-profit organizations, including the Boy Scouts of America, Boys Club of Clark County, United Way and the Salvation Army.
Mack was a resident of Nevada since 1930 and a 1938 graduate of Las Vegas High School and later a graduate of UCLA.
He was the past director of three resort hotels, the Riviera, Four Queens and the Dunes. Mack also served as the chairman of the board and commissioner of the Nevada State Tax Commission.
The two men donated $1 million to the construction of the Thomas & Mack Center.
RUNNIN' REBELS BEGIN 23RD SEASON IN TMC
The UNLV Runnin' Rebels 2005-06 season will mark the 23rd season of basketball in the 18,500-seat Thomas & Mack Center.
The first event ever held at the arena took place on Nov. 21, 1983, when the Runnin' Rebels faced the University of Victoria, Canada, in an exhibition game.
UNLV's first regular-season contest at the TMC was played on Nov. 26, 1983, when the Runnin' Rebels defeated Nevada, Reno, 92-71, in front of 15,227 fans.
The arena's first sellout came on Dec. 30, 1983, when UNLV squared off against Georgetown in a nationally televised game on CBS. The Hoyas won 69-67 in overtime in one of the most memorable games in TMC history.
There have been many other memories over the past decade, but perhaps the biggest event for Las Vegas sports fans occurred on April 5, 1984, when Los Angeles Lakers' center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar swished a sky-hook against the Utah Jazz and passed Wilt Chamberlain as the NBA's all-time leading scorer.
Other major sporting events that took place in the arena include the National Finals Rodeo and the Riddick Bowe vs. Evander Holyfield heavyweight title fight.
The largest attendance at a TMC event was 20,321 on Dec. 29, 1986, when UNLV defeated Navy and David Robinson, 104-79.
UNLV has compiled an amazing 22-year homecourt record of 296-61 (.829) in the TMC, which includes a 59-game homecourt-win streak ending in a 90-86 loss to Louisville on Feb. 14, 1993.
In 357 games played at the TMC, UNLV has drawn 4,861,291 fans for an average of 13,617 per contest.
The Cox Pavilion, adjacent to the Thomas & Mack Center, opened its doors in the spring of 2001.
The Pavilion, which features men's and women's locker facilities, player lounges and dedicated practice courts on the ground level, is the permanent home to the UNLV women's basketball and volleyball programs.
The second level is a multi-purpose room with seating up to 3,100. The seating capacity for sporting events is 2,452.
A versatile and intimate room, the Pavilion offers the perfect setting for a smaller concert, a private dinner or convention. To date, the venue has hosted nationally televised championship boxing, an array of family shows, concerts and private events. Since it is attached to the Thomas & Mack Center, the pavilion can be used in conjunction with larger events held in the TMC. Or it can serve as a stand-alone venue, complete with it's own ticket office, meeting or catering space and dressing rooms.
UNLV also hosts several functions in the Pavilion each year including the state of the university address, honors convocations, commencement ceremonies, academic conferences and the classified staff awards.
A partnership with Cox Communications made the development of the Cox Pavilion a reality. Cox Communications pledged $5 million to the University for the naming rights of the facility in 1999.