October 10, 1982, 40 years ago today:The first basketball game ever played in the BSU Pavilion, now ExtraMile Arena, is not a Boise State game, but an NBA exhibition between the Portland Trail Blazers and Seattle Supersonics. The Blazers’ 113-109 victory drew a crowd of 8,428 to the new facility. Both teams were led by the same coaches that took them to NBA championships two years apart in the late 1970s: Jack Ramsay for Portland and Lenny Wilkens for Seattle. Both the Blazers and Sonics would go on to winning seasons, and they’d meet in the first round of the NBA Playoffs the following spring (Portland won that series).
Boise State’s first game in the Pavilion would come seven weeks later in a 71-59 loss to Michigan State and legendary coach Judd Heathcote, who used to coach the Montana Grizzlies against the Broncos. It took a while for attendance to take root, as Boise State was on its way to a 10-17 record in Dave Leach’s final season. But the Broncos did draw their first crowd of 10,000 when Idaho came to town in March (a 67-56 Vandals victory). The crowds grew after the arrival of Bobby Dye as coach, and once his program took off in 1986-87, there’d be 10,000 in the Pavilion on a regular basis.
Things happened quickly for the sparkling new building. The following March, the NCAA Tournament was hosted in the BSU Pavilion for the first time. The feature player was Virginia’s Ralph Sampson, a three-time college basketball player of the year. The field also included Weber State, Washington State, Illinois, Utah and UCLA. The Big Dance has been back to Boise eight times since. A 10th Boise stop was scheduled in 2021 but was wiped out by COVID-19.
The next several years also produced a string of well-attended concerts by popular artists, including the Beach Boys, Moody Blues, Tina Turner, Chicago, Stevie Wonder, Journey, Rush, Huey Lewis and The News, and even Bob Hope. And I’m sure I’m missing one or three. Happy hoops birthday to ExtraMile Arena.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)