The SAP Center at San Jose has gone through plenty of name changes since opening in 1993. Originally known as the San Jose Arena, the building got in on the corporate naming trend, using is California location to its advantage and getting a big tech sponsor when it became the Compaq Center in 2001. This deal lasted for just two years, before the Compaq Center became the HP Pavilion in 2002. In 2013 the name changed once again to its current form. Ironically though, through all these name changes just one moniker has stuck. This arena is, and will forever be known as the Shark Tank.
This name somewhat obviously comes from the main tenants of the arena, the San Jose Sharks of the NHL. The arena was built with hockey in mind and seats 17,562 for Sharks matches. It is also home to another hockey team, the San Jose Barracuda of the American Hockey League, and also an arena football team, the San Jose Sabercats.
The arena was under construction in 1991, but delays occurred when the forward thinking Sharks requested additional upgrades which would hopefully see them remain viable in the NHL for the lifespan of the arena. These upgrades included a new batch of luxury suites, increased seating capacity (especially at the club seat level) and a bigger press box.
As with all arenas there have been upgrades through the years, with a new center-hung LED video display system being added in 2007. With a new $1.3 billion stadium having gone up in nearby Santa Clara to be the home of the San Francisco 49ers, it is more important than ever that the Shark Tank is continually upgraded and revamped if outside vents are going to be held at the facility. With this in mind more improvements are in the works, including new technology like in-seat food and merchandise delivery.
The SAP Center has always been keen to have its space used for a variety of events. In 2006 the building sold 633,435 tickets to non-sporting events. This was the most of any venue in the Western United States and the fourth most in the world behind Madison Square Garden (New York), the MEN Arena (Manchester, UK) and the Air Canada Center (Toronto, Canada). The SAP Center has hosted numerous WWE events, including the 1998 Royal Rumble and 2001 SummerSlam, the 1996 US Figure Skating World Championships and the 1997 NHL All-Star Game.
The center has also become a mecca for amateur sport as the management team has done everything to boost interest in niche events within the community. As a result events as varied as sumo, fencing and volleyball have graced the Shark Tank floor. This is all important as the SAP Center was built as part of a downtown revitalization project and it has been called “the biggest success in the city’s rebuilt downtown.”
image courtesy of nhl.com