Farewell, Coors Events Center.
Welcome back, CU Events Center.
This past week, the University of Colorado made official an announcement BuffZone.com first reported in April. After 28 years, the venue originally known as the CU Events/Conference Center will return to its original moniker. The beer may still flow at Buffaloes basketball and volleyball games, but the arena affectionately known by several generations of students as "The Keg" is no more.
The home of CU basketball since 1979, the Events Center was christened the Coors Events Center in 1990 thanks to a $5 million gift from the Adolph Coors Foundation. The university stands to collect a far more substantial payoff the this time around, and hopefully some of that cash will be parlayed into long-needed renovation projects at Folsom Field and the Events Center. The $160 million spent on the Champions Center was a sound investment with the indoor practice facility, athletic offices, and even the opening of fresh revenue streams. However inside Folsom, the aesthetics of the pristine northeast corner of the stadium alongside the antiquated restroom facilities and rusting bleachers prevalent throughout the rest of the seating bowl is embarrassing.
How the naming rights drama unfolds will be a matter for Buffs fans to follow in the upcoming months. In the meantime, it's time to raise a glass to The Keg, which under the Coors name was the home to six men's basketball NCAA Tournament teams, 11 women's NCAA Tournament teams (including six Sweet 16s and three Elite Eights), and two Sweet 16 volleyball teams.
There were plenty of treasured memories for Buffs before the Coors name arrived. There will be plenty after. In between, the Coors faithful were treated to the sideline brilliance of Ceal Barry, the on-court wizardry of Chauncey Billups, and the early excitement of the Tad Boyle era that had Coors rockin' to the tune of four NCAA Tournament appearances in five seasons. Here is a look at the top five moments of the venue's Coors era.
Chauncey stays home
Like Barry, it's difficult to encapsulate Billups' magnificent two-year college career to a single home moment. So we'll go with an otherwise nondescript matchup against Northwestern State on Nov. 27, 1995. That was the Denver native's first game at the Coors Events Center, and he went on to average 18.5 points over two seasons, a career highlighted by a memorable NCAA Tournament first-round win against Indiana in 1997, a victory powered by Billups' 24 points.
Barry leads Buffs to national prominence
Try whittling coach Barry's 427 wins and unquantifiable impact on CU athletics to a single moment among her 22 seasons leading the women's basketball program. Maybe it was on March 20, 1993. Playing at home for the first time in a month, the Buffs knocked off UC Santa Barbara in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. CU went on to defeat defending national champion Stanford along the way to the program's first berth in the Elite Eight.
Walls goes off
Jaquay Walls played just two seasons in Boulder as a junior college transfer, and his Ricardo Patton-led teams fared no better than first-round ousters in the NIT. However, on Feb. 19, 2000 Walls put together a performance for the ages, going 16-for-24 overall and 7-for-10 on 3-pointers to score 42 points in an upset win against No. 14 Iowa State. It remains the highest scoring performance by any player ever at the CU/Coors Events Center and is tied for the sixth-highest scoring effort in CU history.
'Ski shocks Jayhawks
A season that ended with a third consecutive NCAA Tournament berth — a first for the CU men's basketball program — was jump-started by one of the more memorable shots to ever shake up The Keg. On Dec. 7, 2013 guard Askia Booker launched a gliding 25-footer at the buzzer to lift the Buffs to a 75-72 win against No. 6 Kansas. The shot ended CU's 19-game losing streak against Jayhawks.
Stunning the Longhorns
On Feb. 26, 2011 — Boyle's first season at the helm—the men's basketball team trailed No. 5 Texas by 22 points with less than five minutes remaining in the first half. The ensuing rally remains the biggest CU comeback in the past 62 years (second-biggest all-time), as 33 points and 10 rebounds from Alec Burks lifted the Buffs to a thrilling 91-89 victory.