Preservation Magazine, Winter 2016

Spotlight: Slam Dunk at Hinkle Fieldhouse

Hinkle Fieldhouse

photo by: Brent Smith/Butler University

When built in 1928, Butler University’s Hinkle Fieldhouse—then called Butler Fieldhouse—was an unparalleled collegiate sports complex. Despite the exponential growth of such facilities across the country since then, the fieldhouse—renamed in 1966 after beloved tri-sport coach and former Athletic Director Tony Hinkle—remains a treasure to the Butler and Indianapolis communities.

Given the structure’s outdated electrical, mechanical, and plumbing systems, and spurred by a recent conference move from the Atlantic 10 to the Big East, Butler recognized an opportunity to restore and modernize the building known as “Indiana’s Basketball Cathedral.”

“We have a goal to provide a great environment for our student athletes,” says Barry Collier, athletic director and former Butler basketball coach and player. “It was clear that the space was being underutilized and needed to be updated.

Named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987, Hinkle Fieldhouse has played host to six presidents, housed recruits for the armed forces during World War II, and was even the setting for the championship scene of the 1986 film Hoosiers.

The $36 million exterior restoration and interior renovation, completed in late 2014, included replacing more than 9,700 windowpanes; repointing the mortar around more than 282,000 bricks; and improving stadium accessibility, as well as adding new conditioning, weight training, and study rooms. Though some home games were played there in 2014, 2015-2016 marks the first full season in which the basketball team has complete access to the facility

“We approached this with the attitude that we wanted to make Hinkle Fieldhouse even more like Hinkle Fieldhouse because we loved it the way it was,” says Collier. “We just knew we could improve upon it.”

Katharine Keane is a former editorial assistant at Preservation Magazine. She enjoys getting lost in new cities, reading the plaques at museums, and discovering the next great restaurant.

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