Butler Solicits Donations To Renovate Hinkle Fieldhouse
Some work already underway on historic gym
(wibc.com photo: Ray Steele)
Butler University is trying to raise a lot of money to spruce up a grand old girl of a gym, perhaps the grandest in all of Indiana.
Listen to Ray Steele's report:
The 84-year-old building was Butler Fieldhouse until 1966, when it acquired the surname of the great Bulldogs basketball coach, Tony Hinkle. It has hosted all sorts of events, from Sonja Henie's ice skating follies to Billy Graham crusades. It served as barracks for soldiers during World War Two. But the Fieldhouse was first and foremost a basketball cathedral, the biggest one in the nation for the first few decades of its life. "I think that this place has too many great memories and is too imporant to all of us to not make it the very best it can be," said current Butler coach Brad Stevens.
As an Indiana native, Stevens can't think of a better place to work than the Fieldhouse, and it's about to get even nicer. Butler kicked ff a campaign to raise $16 million to pay for renovations, changes and additions that will not affect the building's placement on the National Register of Historic Places. "We're doing a lot of exterior work replacing windows and all the mortar between the bricks up there," said Butler athletic director Barry Collier, "keeping in mind that this is an historic landmark and that we had to preserve the nature of the building as it exists."
Stevens loves the fieldhouse, but says this work is long overdue. "Most players, even in this day and age, they understand tradition and they understand history and they appreciate it. Where we need to get better is on all the other little things in the interior." The main part of the renovation work will rid the Fieldhouse of the school's old natatorium. "Using our 18,000 square foot empty pool space to build a weight room, to build a training room, to build a student-athlete center, to improve the locker areas, to make it more spacious...I think that's where you can really add a boost," said Stevens.
Collier says anyone can contribute to the campaign to fund the renovation, but adds the university will reach out to corporations and foundations who have long supported the Bulldogs. "We're very fortunate to have donations coming in from multiple directions."
When the work is complete in 2014, Stevens says Hinkle Fieldhouse will be something that's hard for some people to imagine - better than it already is. "This is one of the very few places in the world that has the tradition and history of a sport that everybody can feel when they walk in."