Ken Bahnsen Gym, a/k/a Men’s Gym, a/k/a The Snake Pit
The inspiration for the nickname of the North Texas Coliseum, the Super Pit, is the Coliseum’s predecessor, now known as the Ken Bahnsen Gym. In its heyday, it’s name was the Men’s Gym, but everyone called it the Snake Pit.
The derivation of that nickname is vague all these years later. The moniker allegedly stemmed from stories of the gym flooding in heavy rain which occasionally drove local snakes from their homes and into the building - either seeking shelter or just wanting to catch a game.
The name may also come from a quote from Drake coach Maury John, who commented after a double-overtime loss to North Texas that "This is the worst damn place in the world to play basketball! This place is a snake pit!"
Whichever the case, North Texas fans ran with it. There are even tales of fans bringing live snakes to games. Reptiles or no, boisterous crowds sent stands quaking and windows rattling, creating a hostile environment that earned the Snake Pit a mention in Sports Illustrated.
North Texas spent its early years at the Snake Pit as a member of the Gulf Coast Conference before joining the Missouri Valley Conference in 1957, a rugged league with strong programs such as Houston, Cincinnati, Drake, Bradley, Wichita State and powerful Louisville. North Texas battled Louisville eight times at the Snake Pit and finally broke through in their final meeting in Denton for a 78-64 win.
In 1973, North Texas basketball moved across Highland Street to the Super Pit, trading 5,000 wood-bleacher seats for 10,500 padded, individual seats. But the Mean Green returned to the Snake Pit for a game on November 14, 2008, scoring an 87-66 win over Cameron.
The Snake Pit remains in use primarily for physical education classes. Sadly, no herpetology classes are scheduled there.