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Hinkle Fieldhouse

February 9, 2004 Columns No Comments

A Tour of the Horizon: Inside the Legend

by Nick Dettmann

College basketball is synonymous with the state of Indiana. Hinkle Fieldhouse is synonymous with college basketball.

When you walk into the legendary building, jitters can just run through the biggest college basketball fan. Just knowing what has happened in this staple for college basketball is enough to send those chills.

The Hinkle Fieldhouse, located on the campus of Butler University in Indianapolis, celebrates its 75th Anniversary this season. 75 years of greatness, 75 years of legends and 75 years of memories. There is no greater legacy than the Hinkle Fieldhouse.

Built in 1928, the Hinkle Fieldhouse withstood no changes to it for more than 60 years. Butler played their first game in the arena on March 7, 1928 against Notre Dame. Butler won 21-13 in overtime. Oddly enough, the building was not fully completed for that game, so the official dedication ceremony did not happen until December of that same year.

Upon its opening, it was called the Butler Fieldhouse. It stayed that way until 1966 when the name was changed to Hinkle Fieldhouse in honor of their legendary coach and athletic director Paul D. “Tony” Hinkle.

As the fan approaches the building on a sunny Saturday afternoon through the residential complexes that surround the university, a big smile quickly arises from any basketball fan. After finding that difficult place to locate a parking spot, the fan gets out of his car and fights the urge to get into the arena.

Once inside, the chills return after feeling them upon first site of the building. The fieldhouse with its unique lay-out just captures the attention of the fan. The smells of the hot dogs being made, the sounds of vendors selling the game program and the sights of all the young fans anxious to get to there seats, there is nothing like it. So what? That is what every basketball arena does and feels like, but not at Hinkle – it’s different.

After much anticipation, the fan makes his way into the seating area. It is again where the chills come back. Knowing that some of the greatest players in the history of the game have graced the court is just too much to fathom. Even knowing the fact that the championship game of the 1954 Indiana state championship in the movie “Hoosiers, just makes it that all more intriguing.

Going the long way down the court, the stands reach all the way up into the rafters, with some of them being in the all-so-forgotten wooden benches. At the end of the court, in the lower section is the student section, the Dawg Pound. Butler students with a wide-array of personalities and spirit towards their beloved Bulldogs can be spotted.

The court is elevated much like a stage as the sun shines through the windows above the floor and for the action that happen on the court, what a coincidence – the game is center stage within this legend with a spotlight.

As game time approaches the players make their way onto the floor. The cheers of the Bulldogs entering can nearly be deafening, especially in front of a sell-out crowd. The students begin their traditional chants, the pep band plays the fight song and the crowd claps and sings along to get pumped for the game.

Now, it is game time. The teams make their way to their respective benches and the chants and cheers of a capacity crowd of 11,043 gets louder.

After the playing of the National Anthem, the pep band fires up the fighting song once again. The momentum can swing towards the Bulldogs and the game has not even started yet.

Just a shade over two hours later, the game has ended. Fans begin to make their way back to their cars, excited about what they had just seen – even more after a victory. But the fan that is most glowing is the first-timer at the Hinkle Fieldhouse. That fan can sometimes be seen staying a little bit after the game to take in the legendary building.

Big deal? This happens at every single arena across the country each and every single night of college basketball. But at Hinkle Fieldhouse, it is different. Hinkle Fieldhouse is where legends have been born. Hinkle is a legend and it builds legends…legends never die.


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