KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — On March 15-17, Thompson-Boling Arena will serve as the weigh-in site for the annual celebration of bass fishing excellence known as the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods.
As always, the Super Bowl of Professional Bass Fishing will draw fans from all over the world — and it will create another chapter for a sporting venue that has seen more than its share of history during the past three decades.
Here’s a quick look at Thompson-Boling:
The 21,678-seat multi-purpose arena, which is located on the campus of the University of Tennessee, opened in 1987.
The building is named for Tennessee businessman B. Ray Thompson, who made his fortune in coal and donated millions to aid underprivileged children. He also made significant contributions for the building of the arena, but he only agreed to have it named after him if he could share the honor with former university president Dr. Edward J. Boling.
The basketball court is named “The Summitt” after one of the greatest coaches of all-time in any sport, at any level. From 1974-2012, Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt won 1,098 games with the Lady Vols. It still stands as a record for a women’s basketball coach and ranks just behind Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski for the most in college basketball, period. Summitt also won eight women’s national championships.
The building lies just off the Tennessee River — where the Classic competition will take place — and just southwest of massive Neyland Stadium where the Vols often play football in front of more than 100,000 fans.
When Thompson-Boling Arena first opened, it had a seating capacity of 24,653. It was renovated in 2007, reducing its capacity to 21,678 — but not before it hosted some of the largest basketball crowds in history.
The Tennessee men drew 25,610 for a game against Kentucky on Jan. 21, 1989. That mark still stands as the Southeastern Conference record for a regular-season game. On Jan. 7, 2006, Summitt and the Tennessee women hosted the University of Connecticut before a crowd of 24,653 — a total that stands as the all-time record for an NCAA regular-season women's game.
On Feb. 5, 2009, Summitt earned her historic 1,000th career win at Thompson-Boling Arena, as the Lady Vols defeated Georgia Bulldogs 73–43.
The Tennessee men’s basketball team is currently 25-3 and ranked No. 7 in the Associated Press poll. The Vols are a perfect 17-0 at Thompson-Boling.
In addition to big games that featured Tennessee orange, the facility hosted the 1989 SEC men's basketball tournament, the first and second rounds of the NCAA men's basketball tournament in 1990, the NCAA basketball men’s regional in 1994 and 1999 and the 1990 NCAA Women's Final Four.
Thompson-Bolin Arena is also a concert venue that holds up to 25,000 people. Since opening, it has hosted some of the biggest names in music — from Bob Dylan, AC/DC and Van Halen in 1988 to Dustin Lynch, Brad Paisley and Miranda Lambert just last year.
Nuts and bolts
Workers broke ground on the facility in November 1983, and the arena opened in December 1987. The total cost for the construction of the facility was $40 million, which would equate to about $88.2 million today.