UNO Lakefront Arena Celebrates 40th Anniversary

NEW ORLEANS – This month, the UNO Lakefront Arena is celebrating its 40th anniversary. The approximately 9,000-seat venue on the University of New Orleans’ 90-acre East Campus opened on Nov. 1, 1983, with a concert featuring Lionel Richie and the Pointer Sisters. Later that month, UNO’s basketball team hosted Louisiana State University’s squad in a doubleheader.

The building, which cost $38 million to build, was designed by Curtis and Davis Architects and Engineers, the same firm that created the Louisiana Superdome.

The arena has hosted nearly 900 commencement ceremonies, approximately 1,200 basketball games and events, and more than 1,200 concerts. A very incomplete list of acts that have appeared there includes Jimmy Buffett, Cyndi Lauper, Lady Gaga, James Taylor, Motley Crew, REM, the Black Keys, Widespread Panic, Madonna, Arcade Fire, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nicki Minaj, Wiz Khalifa, Sting, Alannis Morissette, Van Halen,  the Cranberries and Imagination Movers.

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UNO officials estimate that more than seven million patrons have been through the arena’s doors. That number includes Pope John Paul II, who in 1987 celebrated mass for 130,000 people on a special pavilion built outside the venue.

“Over the last four decades, the UNO Lakefront Arena has become an international beacon for arts and entertainment where people of all ages feel welcome,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards in a press release. “Whether a commencement ceremony, concert or athletic competition, events are a reflection of the importance of our higher education institutions.”

The Arena’s Aquatic Center welcomes over 100,000 visitors annually, and its Olympic-size pool provides a training ground and hosts state and national swim competitions.“My entire life and career have been with the University of New Orleans and the Lakefront Arena,” said Arena General Manager Marco Perez. “I started when the arena opened its doors, so this is a poignant moment not only for this venue, but also in my career. I have been privileged to work with great people in the entertainment industry and a solid group of exceptional colleagues at the Arena, both on the management level and events staff, many of whom have become like family.”

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The Lakefront Arena sustained significant damage from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. After receiving $25 million for repairs and renovations from FEMA, the building reopened its doors to the public in 2008.

Upcoming events include the Winter White House Party on Nov. 3, Kevin Gates on Nov. 4, the Reunion Tour on Nov. 18, Theo Von’s Return of the Rat Tour on Nov. 24, and Billy Strings on Dec. 29, 30 and 31. The Arena will welcome Disney On Ice March 28-31, 2024.

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