The Butler men's basketball, women's basketball and volleyball teams plays their home matches in historic Hinkle Fieldhouse, which is located on Butler's campus, northeast of the residence halls and main portion of campus. Less than a mile's walk from anywhere on campus, Hinkle is accessible to all students and plays host to exciting athletic competition each year.
Hinkle Fieldhouse has reigned as one of the nation’s great sports arenas for more than eight decades. The classic facility was constructed in 1928 and it has stood up to the test of time, maintaining the splendor, character and atmosphere that made it one of the nation’s most famous basketball arenas for nearly a century. And during the summer of 2014, the Fieldhouse underwent a major $36 million renovation that provided significant upgrades and improvements to make a great facility even better!
Highlights of the project included wider concourses for better accessibility, an elevator for public use and ADA accessibility, added restrooms (including family restrooms that are ADA accessible), improved and expanded concessions, added and more comfortable chairback seating in the main arena, a new scoreboard with video playback capability and kiosks marking historic moments in Hinkle Fieldhouse history. A new student-athlete academic center was added, as well as a new sports medicine center with a hydrotherapy unit. The project included a new and expanded weight room, new administrative and coaches offices, an expansion of the Wildman Room for hospitality, new office/locker room suites for men’s and women’s basketball and new team meeting rooms with video screens.
In addition to the interior improvements, the 86-year-old facility also received extensive exterior renovations, including the tuck-pointing of 282,000 bricks, the replacement of more than 9,700 windowpanes with energy-efficient glass and an update of the utilities.
The Fieldhouse, which remained virtually unchanged for more than 60 years after its original construction, received its first major face-lift during the summer of 1989. Among the changes to the historical building were new chair-back seats in the lower arena, new doors and windows on the south side of the exterior, new basketball offices, a training room and locker rooms off the main arena, a VIP lounge, repaved parking lot, outside landscaping, extensive interior painting and a new public address system. Additional improvements included a new weight room, new football offices, sports information/marketing offices, and administrative offices.
The original construction of Butler Fieldhouse was part of a massive project designed to give Butler one of the finest athletic plants in the nation. The project was financed by a corporation of 41 prominent and farsighted Indianapolis businessmen. Completion of the Fieldhouse was guaranteed when Butler signed a lease agreement with the Indiana High School Athletic Association allowing the high school state tournament to be played in the massive new facility. Butler’s association with the IHSAA continued from 1928 to 1971, with a brief interruption during the war years, 1943-45.
Butler played its first basketball game in the Fieldhouse on March 7, 1928, defeating Notre Dame 21-13, in overtime. Since the Fieldhouse was not entirely completed at that time, the building dedication was held off until December 21, 1928. The name of the facility was changed in 1966 from Butler Fieldhouse to Hinkle Fieldhouse in honor of Butler’s legendary coach and athletic director Paul D. “Tony” Hinkle, who built the University’s athletic fame over nearly half a century.
In addition to being the home of Butler basketball, the Fieldhouse has been host to a Nobel laureate, six U. S. presidents (Herbert Hoover, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush), the Billy Graham Crusade, the Sonja Henie Ice Show, four professional basketball teams, the U.S. Olympic basketball trials, the first USA-USSR basketball game, all-star basketball games for the NBA and ABA as well as the East-West College All-Stars, the nationally-prominent Butler Relays in track, tennis matches of both Bill Tilden and Jack Kramer, the 1982 World Goal Ball Championships, a three-ring circus, several equestrian events, the Roller Derby, and a six-day bicycle race. The building also housed the U. S. military as a barracks during World War II. And Butler’s homecourt was in the spotlight world-wide as the site of the championship game in the popular movie “Hoosiers.”
During the summer of 1987, Hinkle Fieldhouse again received national and international attention as the site for the volleyball competition at the tenth Pan American Games. The largest crowd (14,500) ever to see a volleyball match in the United States gathered in the Fieldhouse to see the USA defeat Cuba in the men’s gold medal match.
When the Fieldhouse was originally constructed, it was the largest basketball arena in the United States, and it retained that distinction for more than 20 years. Renovation in the early 1990’s reduced the seating capacity from 15,000 to 11,043, and later it was reduced to 10,000. The current capacity after the most recent renovation is 9,100. The Fieldhouse was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983, and declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987.
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