Thomas & Mack Center is an arena located on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in Paradise, Nevada. It is home of the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels basketball team of the Mountain West Conference. The facility was first opened in the summer of 1983. The gala grand opening was held on December 16, 1983, featuring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Diana Ross. The facility hosts numerous events, such as concerts, music festivals, conventions and boxing cards. For ring events, the capacity is 19,522; for basketball, the capacity is 18,000.
The arena has been hosting basketball games of the UNLV Rebels since 1983 and it underwent a major interior and exterior renovation in 1999. 2008 saw the installation of all new visual equipment, which included a 4-sided new center-hung LED widescreen scoreboard. Which includes four LED advertising/scoring boards above it and a LED advertising ring below it to replace the one installed in 1995. A partial LED ring beam display covering 80% of the balcony’s rim, a new 50′ LED scorer’s table display. A new shot clock system for the backboards, six wall-mounted locker room game clocks. Two new custom scoreboards with fixed digital scoring and complete player stats and a new outdoor marquee LED video billboard.
The facility is named after two prominent Nevada bankers, E. Parry Thomas and Jerome D. Mack, who donated the original funds for the feasibility and land studies. In 2001, a smaller arena, Cox Pavilion, was added to the complex; the two arenas are directly connected. Cox Pavilion is used for smaller events; its main tenants are the UNLV women’s basketball and volleyball programs.
It was the former home of the Arena Football League’s Las Vegas Sting, Las Vegas Gladiators, and Las Vegas Outlaws. In 2005 and 2006, the arena hosted the Arena Football League’s ArenaBowl. ArenaBowl XIX and ArenaBowl XX were the first two ArenaBowls to be held at a neutral site arena. In the past, the games had been played at the site of the highest seed in the playoffs.
In ArenaBowl XIX in 2005, the Colorado Crush, owned by John Elway defeated the Georgia Force on a field goal on the final play of the game. The game was ranked as one of the AFL’s 20 best games ever in league history. The following year, 2006, the Chicago Rush, owned by Mike Ditka defeated the Orlando Predators 69-61 for the Rush’s first championship in franchise history.
The venue hosted the 2007 NBA All-Star Game, marking the first time that this game was held in a city without a National Basketball Association franchise. For the first time in NBA history, an on-campus college sports arena served as venue of an NBA All-Star Game. However, the arena had previously hosted home games for two NBA teams, the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers.
The Utah Jazz used the arena in the mid-1980s, and it was where Kareem Abdul-Jabbar broke Wilt Chamberlain’s record for points in a career in 1984. The Lakers used the arena in 1992 for Game 4 of their first round playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers, which Portland won 102–76. The NBA moved the game as a result of the Los Angeles riots.
The 1994-95 Big West Conference, 1997–99 Western Athletic Conference and 2000-03 Mountain West Conference men’s basketball tournaments were held there as well. The Mountain West Conference basketball tournament returned in 2007 and stayed until 2013.
In late 2007, CBS filmed part of the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation episode, Bull, at the Thomas & Mack Center, which was hosting the PBR World Finals. The Thomas & Mack Center hosts the National Finals Rodeo annually each December. It also hosted the PBR World Finals from 1999 to 2015 before the event moved to the new T-Mobile Arena from the 2016 season onward. The PBR returned in 2018 to host their annual “Last Cowboy Standing event. As a surprise during the 2018 PBR Finals in November, CEO Sean Gleason announced that the PBR Last Cowboy Standing event will be hosted at Cheyenne Frontier Days in Cheyenne, Wyoming starting in 2019. This move to the world’s largest outdoor rodeo expands on a growing partnership.
Other sports events
On March 30, 1984, the USA Olympic volleyball team competed in the international competition at Thomas & Mack Center. On September 12, 1992, Mexican boxing legend Julio César Chávez faced Hector Macho Camacho, and on September 15, 2012, his son Julio César Chávez, Jr. fought against Sergio Gabriel Martínez for the WBC Middleweight Belt.