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McNichols Sports Arena

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McNichols Sports Arena
Located: 1635 Bryant Street
Denver, Colorado
Owner: City of Denver
Operator: Feyline
Capacity: Basketball: 17,171
Ice hockey: 16,061
Construction information
Broke ground: August 8, 1973
Opened: August 22, 1975
Closed: September 29, 1999
Demolished: January 24, 2000
Construction
cost
:
$ 16 million
Tenants
Denver Nuggets (NBA) (1975–1999)
Colorado Rockies (NHL) (1976–1982)
Colorado Flames (CHL) (1982–1984)
Colorado Avalanche (NHL) (1995–1999))


McNichols Sports Arena (aka Big Mac) was an indoor arena, in Denver, Colorado, adjacent to Mile High Stadium. Completed in 1975, at a cost of $10 million, it seated 16,061, for hockey games, 17,171, for basketball games and contained 27 luxury suites, which were installed as part of the 1986 renovation. It was named after the mayor of Denver, William (Bill) H. McNichols, Jr., who served from 1968 to 1983. A small scale scandal was created when the arena was named after a sitting mayor.

The arena was largely shuttered after the Nuggets and Avalanche moved to Pepsi Center and was razed in 1999 to make space for a parking lot surrounding INVESCO Field at Mile High.

Sports connections

"Big Mac" was the home of the Denver Spurs of the WHA from 1975 to 1976, the Colorado Rockies of the NHL from 1976 to 1982, the Colorado Flames of the CHL from 1982 to 1984, the Denver Nuggets of the ABA and NBA from 1975 to 1999, the Denver Avalanche of the MISL from 1981 to 1982, the Colorado Avalanche of the NHL from 1995 to 1999, and the Denver Grizzlies of the International Hockey League from 1994 to 1995.

McNichols hosted the NCAA Final Four in 1990, won by UNLV over Duke University and the West Regional Semifinal in 1996. It was also host to the 1976 ABA All-Star Game, in which the host Nuggets defeated the ABA All-Stars, games 1, 2, and 5 of the 1976 ABA finals, and the 1984 NBA All-Star Game. It also hosted games one and two of the Stanley Cup Finals in 1996, where the Colorado Avalanche defeated the Florida Panthers in four games to bring the Mile High City its first major sports championship.

The arena was the site of the largest crowd ever to see an NCAA college ice hockey game in the State of Colorado, as the University of Denver defeated Colorado College, 3–2, for the Denver Cup championship in 1995, with over 16,000 fans in attendance.

Another notable event at McNichols took place on December 13, 1983, when the Nuggets hosted the Detroit Pistons in a regular season contest. Nugget players Kiki Vandeweghe and Alex English scored 51 and 47 points respectively, while Piston Isiah Thomas also scored 47 points, with teammate John Long scoring 41 in a 186-184 triple-overtime Detroit win over the Nuggets. The game, still to date, is the highest-scoring game in NBA history, and also holds the record for the most players to score 40 or more points in a single game. However, the game was not televised in the Denver area (instead being shown back to the Detroit market, via WKBD-TV, and was attended by just over 9,300 people. This game has since been broadcast on NBA TV and ESPN Classic specials),

On October 9,1987 the US HOT ROD Mud Bog & Battle of the Monster Trucks show was hosted. It was the only monster truck event held at McNichols.

Notable events

REO Speedwagon's concert from 1981 was performed here, as MTV's first ever live concert.

The arena hosted "Alvin & the Chipmunks starring the Amazing Computer" on February 8, 1986. It was a family event for children.

The "Ice Capades" was held at McNichols on April 5, 1986.

The arena played host to Amnesty International's A Conspiracy of Hope Benefit Concert on June 8, 1986. The show was headlined by U2 and Sting and also featured Bryan Adams, Peter Gabriel, Lou Reed, Joan Baez and The Neville Brothers.

Parts of U2's half-live rockumentary Rattle and Hum, came from one concert filmed in the arena, on the third leg of the band's 1987 Joshua Tree Tour, including Bono's famous "Fuck the revolution!" speech during "Sunday Bloody Sunday".[1]

Def Leppard recorded one of their shows here in February 1988 and released it as Live: In the Round, in Your Face.

The bonus tracks on Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble’s album In Step, including “The House is Rockin’” (Live), “Let Me Love You Baby” (Live), “Texas Flood” (Live), and “Life Without You” (Live) were recorded on November 29, 1989 at McNichols Sports Arena in Denver, CO. In this recording of “Life Without You”, Vaughan delivers his poignant monologue on his troubles, with substances abuse and his newly-found sobriety. He asks those in the audience to take care of themselves so they can "be there for the ones who love you and need you the most."

The first event of the Ultimate Fighting Championship was held there in 1993.[2]

Phish performed and recorded their show, on November 17, 1997, which was later released as a live album, entitled Live Phish Volume 11.

ZZ Top performed at the venue's final concert on September 12, 1999.

Final years

Though the arena was only 24 years old when it was demolished, like most arenas of the 1970s, it was narrow and dark in the concourse level corridors. In addition, the locker rooms and shower facilities were not updated to NBA standards. Also, the arena lacked enough luxury suites (27 compared to some newer arenas' 200 or more).

References

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