Just at a time when it appeared the Pete Maravich Assembly Center was past the point of being a first-class basketball building, the LSU Athletic Department stepped in and began a three-year campaign to spruce up the building that has been known since 1988 as the PMAC.
In a year when the building would also become famous worldwide as the site of the largest triage unit in history after Hurricane Katrina, the athletic department was able to finish its renovation in time for the 2005-06 season and turn the building back into a showcase for LSU men’s basketball.
Now the building enters its 50th season of men’s basketball play during the 2020-21 season, continuing the tradition of play in the building while incorporating the modern video and technical aspects that are part of the game today.
An interactive concourse area depicting the history of the great players who have starred for LSU in the building, additional restrooms, new seats throughout the arena along with increased court lighting has taken the building to a new level.
In 2010, the building took a major step forward with a practice facility attached to the building for men and women along with a new men’s locker room complex that has helped raise the Assembly Center’s appeal for players and fans for years to come.
The Maravich Assembly Center is, like the other venues LSU basketball has bounced around in through its long history, unique in its own way. Before moving across from Tiger Stadium, the Tigers set up shop in the Pavilion on the old LSU campus, the Huey Long Field House Gym Armory (now the Cox Communications Academic Center) and the John M. Parker Agricultural Center. LSU and SEC fans knew the latter as the “Cow Palace” as it served as the primary home for LSU basketball for four decades.
But when the LSU Tigers commenced play in the Assembly Center in the 1971-72 season, it marked the beginning of a new era in LSU Roundball. Now, with LSU entering its 50th season in the Assembly Center, the building is the longest running venue in LSU’s basketball history.
The building opened as the LSU Assembly Center. During the summer of 1988, then Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer signed legislation changing the official name of the building to the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in honor of the LSU star who had died tragically earlier that same year.
Pete Maravich never got to play any of his college ball in the Assembly Center, but the plans for the building came while he and the Tigers were packing the “Cow Palace” from 1967-70. So like Yankee Stadium being the “House that (Babe) Ruth Built”, the Assembly Center can certainly be classified as the “Palace that Pete Built.”
On July 1, 2004, the management of the Pete Maravich Center came under the direction of the LSU Athletics Department. One of the primary functions was to improve the quality of the building both in the arena and on the upper concourse.
For years, the upper concourse of the Maravich Assembly Center was just an entranceway and a walk area for people heading to their seats. There were a few pictures, concession stands and a few restrooms, but it wasn’t a special place to spend time before the game started.
Thanks to the LSU Athletics Department, all that has changed. Now the concourse is a fan’s delight, looking back at the past and present of the four teams who compete in the building.
The concourse is divided into four quadrants: Pete Maravich Pass, The Walk of Champions, Heroes Hall and Midway of Memories.
Prior to the 2017-18 season, the Maravich Center installed new video boards that at the time were the largest center hung boards in the nation. The four screens — two facing the sidelines at 42 feet long and 21 feet high, as well as two facing the baselines at 24 feet by 20.5 feet — were priced at over $3 million. The project was fully funded by the Tiger Athletic Foundation. The boards feature a dedicated area for game-in-progress information like score and time on the clock, as well as individual and team statistics.