It has several names including University Arena, which ESPN personality Dick Vitale has said is "a terrific atmosphere for college basketball. Great building... great history... 18,000 screaming fans. It's big time hoops, baby."
It's nearly impossible to turn on a television in the month of March and not see at least a few seconds of late North Carolina State Head Coach Jim Valvano sprinting across the court looking for someone to hug after his underdog Wolfpack won the 1983 NCAA National Title on an airball turned alley-oop dunk at the buzzer.
Bob King Court has been ranked by USAToday as one of "10 Great Places to Get Pumped for NCAA Action," by Rivals.com as one of the "Top-16 Home Court Advantages" and by Sports Illustrated as one of "The 13 Top Sporting Venue of the 20th Century".
Apparently the NCAA thinks it's pretty nice too. The corner of University Boulevard and Avenida Cesar Chavez has hosted a combined 53 Men's and Women's NCAA Tournament games since 1968 (it only opened in 1966), including seven Sweet Sixteens/Elite Eights and that unforgettable 1983 Final Four. Albuquerque has been a site in the Big Dance in three of the last five women's tournaments, and is booked for 2008 and 2009 as well.
Of course most people know it simply as The Pit.
When the No. 4 seed Vanderbilt women's basketball team tips off with No. 13 seed Montana on Saturday night, where they will be playing hasn't been lost on anyone.
"I've never been here before, but my vision of it is seeing Jim Valvano run across the court and the history that's been made here," said Commodore Head Coach Melanie Balcomb. "I was really looking forward to coming here.
"I love new places -- somewhere I have not been -- and I feel like I have been everywhere. I've heard so much about it - the reputation of the crowd and the support for women's basketball and those are the places I like to go. I'm looking forward to a great environment for women's basketball and people that really appreciate the sport, and I know that it's here because people talk about it."
New Mexico Head Coach Don Flanagan has built his program's attendance from the mid-nineties, ranking 21st in women's basketball attendance back in the 1995-96 season. It's been in the Top Five in average attendance every year this millennium, despite UNM's membership in the Mountain West Conference.
Montana Head Coach Robin Selvig agreed with Balcomb.
"For me, personally, it's great," he said. "We have not played the University of New Mexico so I have never been in the Pit. I've been doing this a long time so it's kind of weird that we haven't ever hooked up or been in a tournament here. With the tradition, the history here, I love this city and its support for women's basketball. We have a lot pride in our support. Our fan support in our place is crazy and this is apparently more people in there and just as crazy."
Both teams' players have a sense that they have a special opportunity to play here.
"It's amazing just being able to come in here and playing in the Pit with a bunch of great teams here," said Montana junior guard Mandy Morales. "It's just really exciting to be here."
The Commodores agreed.
"Being from Colorado, I've just heard so much about it," said VU senior center Liz Sherwood, who hails from Centennial, Colo. just outside of Denver. "I've had friends that have gotten to play down here and they've always had great turnout for their games and a lot of loyal fans. It's just a gym where a lot of great basketball moments have happened and it's just fun to finally be able to play here."
They'll finally get there chance tomorrow as they try to advance in the NCAA Tournament for the ninth consecutive year as the Commodores face Montana at approximately 10:00 p.m. CT. For those not fortunate enough to be at the Pit, you can catch the action on the Vanderbilt/ISP radio network or on ESPN2.