The history of the SAP Center

We’re going back in time to learn more about this iconic San Jose landmark.

The front of the SAP Center in Downtown San Jose.

To locals, the SAP Center is most popularly known as “The Tank.”

Photo by SJtoday staff

Table of Contents

The SAP Center has welcomed over 35 million visitors since opening in 1993 — including chart-topping artists, professional sports teams, world-class talents, and more.

Today, we’re diving into the Tank’s nearly 30-year history and how it became one of our city’s most iconic landmarks.

🗳️ What almost wasn’t

In the mid-1980s, there was a growing push for an indoor arena to be built in Downtown — mainly by a grassroots group named Fund Arena Now (FAN). Former Mayor Tom McEnery supported the group, and helped get a measure on the ballot that would allocate tax dollars to building the arena.

Early results projected the measure to fail — many residents were worried about traffic, parking, and overcrowding. But, on Election Day (June 7, 1988), it passed by a slim margin with 53% of votes for yes, 47% for no.

A birds-eye-view of the SAP Center being constructed in 1992.

A birds-eye-view of the SAP Center being constructed in 1992.

Photo via @jbecher

🎟️ A new entertainment hub

Construction began in 1991, and despite a slight delay, the stadium opened in 1993 as the San Jose Arena. From then to 2013, it changed names to Compaq Center at San Jose, to HP Pavilion, to now, the SAP Center.

Its main tenant now is the San Jose Sharkshence its locally known name, the “Shark Tank” — but it was also home to several, now-defunct, San Jose sports teams + the Golden State Warriors during the reconstruction of the Oakland Coliseum in 1996.

Aside from sporting events, the SAP has hosted Aerosmith, Prince, Celine Dion, Beyonce, Drake, and more.

🎶 Its legacy lives on

From its tough battle of being built, to becoming one of Downtown’s shining stars, the SAP Center continues to thrivecatch these hard hitters coming to the arena soon:

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