The Mullins Center serves as the primary home arena for the UMass Minutemen men's and women's basketball teams, as well as the men's hockey team. It is located on the campus of the University of Massachusetts. When configured for basketball, the arena has a seating capacity of 9,493.
Though the vast majority of the UMass campus is located in the town of Amherst, the bulk of the Mullins Center footprint is situated in the town of Hadley. Only the southeast corner of the arena lies in the town of Amherst.1)
The Mullins Center is named in honor of William D. Mullins, a state representative from nearby Ludlow.2)3) In 1985, Mullins, then the vice chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, argued that the UMass campus lacked an indoor facility of sufficient size for major sports and other events. Mullins died of cancer in 1986 at age 54, but several of his colleagues in the legislature, as well as other supporters, carried on his project. As a tribute to Mullins’ dedication to UMass sports, the facility was named in his memory. 4) 5) 6) 7)
The following sub-sections appeared in a fact sheet compiled by the University.
|1985 to July 1988||The arena project progresses through the Massachusetts House and Senate seeking funding for design and construction.|
|April 1988||John Calipari hired as men's basketball head coach. The promise of new facilities helped Calipari recruit better talent and build the program.|
|July 1988||Capital outlay appropriation passed.|
|October 1988||Building Authority issues bonds for the Mullins Center.|
|October 1990||Design complete.|
|December 1990||Contract signed between the Building Authority and the successful bidder for the building contract, Suffolk Construction.|
|January 1991||Construction begins.|
|September 28, 1992||Contract signed between the University, UMBA and Ogden for the management of the Mullins Center.|
|Winter 1992/93||Construction completed.|
|January 31, 1993||Mullins Center Open House.|
|February 4, 1993||First men's basketball game in the building. UMass beats West Virginia in overtime.|
|October 30, 1993||First men's hockey game since 1979. UMass beats Villanova 9-1.8)|
The UMass Minutemen closed out the Curry Hicks Cage era on January 29, 1993, in a game that was coined “The Final Rage”. Six days and two games later, on February 4, the Minutemen played the first game at the Mullins Center against West Virginia. WVU was a fellow Atlantic 10 Conference member at that time, and was in the conference tournament final with UMass the previous season.
In pre-game festivities, the arena's lights were turned off, and music from the television series “The Twilight Zone” played over the sound system. A booming voice ended with “Welcome to the Cal-Zone,” in reference to UMass Head Coach John Calipari. Audio recording of the intro.
The game did not disappoint, as the Minutemen and Mountaineers went into overtime, with UMass prevailing 64-59.
The playing floor is dedicated to Jack Leaman, in recognition of his decades of service and success with the UMass Athletics Department. The floor was dedicated in a ceremony on February 25, 2006.10)
The basketball court floor at Mullins has evolved many times since the building's opening in 1993, with more graphical elements and updated looks. In October 2019, UMass unveiled a new design that shows a shadow of the Massachusetts geographical boundaries.11)12)
Upon opening, and for two decades after, the Mullins Center never had a center-hung scoreboard or video display. Scoreboards were mounted on the walls on the baseline ends, and were upgraded on occasion with better display technology.
In Fall 2017, large LED displays were center-hung, and the baseline displays were also upgraded to LEDs.13)
The Worcester Telegram & Gazette, April 4, 2006.