The interior of Hinkle Fieldhouse before the Feb. 19 white-out game against DePaul. Photo by Jimmy Lafakis.
PHILIP TOR | STAFF REPORTER | firstname.lastname@example.org
When Butler Fieldhouse opened its doors in 1928, 15,000 fans packed the new stadium to watch Butler defeat Notre Dame 21-13 in the first game in its storied history. Now, nearly 90 years later, Hinkle Fieldhouse is a college basketball landmark and has more uses than one would expect.
After a massive $36 million renovation project in summer 2014, “Indiana’s basketball cathedral” had its capacity reduced to 9,100, but its use was expanded. Hinkle Fieldhouse is now the headquarters of the athletic department, housing eight teams and nearly all of the athletic administration. Even though only eight teams are housed in Hinkle, all 434 student-athletes from Butler’s 20 teams use the facilities inside frequently.
John Dedman, associate athletic director for communications at Butler, said the renovation project in 2014 was in part done to help improve the athletic facilities.
“The main purpose was to provide additional resources for our student-athletes and fans, while also keeping the charm and history of the building intact,” Dedman said.
The 2014-15 season was the second year Butler was in the Big East Conference in all sports except football. These facilities and upgrades were a great tool used in recruitment of top-tier recruits. A new student-athlete academic center, sports medicine center with a hydrotherapy unit and an expanded weight room helped Butler’s facilities match up to some of the other Big East athletic programs.
Sophomore Luke Sennett, who plays on the football team as a defensive back, said the Hinkle facilities were a large part of why he chose Butler.
“The facilities were a big draw for me to come,” Sennett said. “They were brand new when I first toured, and were the nicest I had seen of any school I toured. Hinkle is able to accommodate and connect so many different athletic programs, on top of being the most famous fieldhouse in sports.”
Many of the resources available to Butler student-athletes in Hinkle were upgraded through the renovation. Areas such as athletic training, strength and conditioning and academic services were all increased in size and enhanced in terms of equipment.
Coach Peal not messing around in the weight room this morning. Blaring Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas" 😂💪 pic.twitter.com/BRkMo2UAtb
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Dedman said the Hinkle facilities are a great asset to student athletes.
“Every one of our student-athletes will spend a lot of time in Hinkle,” Dedman said. “Those improvements will make their experience better. Hinkle is one of Butler’s many showpieces, and prospective students and student-athletes enjoy it.”
— Butler Golf (@ButlerUGolf) November 1, 2016
Outside of athletics, Hinkle is used to teach a number of the Butler physical well-being classes. These classes, which are part of the university’s core requirements, include basketball, ballroom dance and even fishing.
Sophomore Evan Ayers, who is enrolled in the basketball class held in the Efroymson Family Gym, said he found it unique to take a class in a historic arena like Hinkle.
“It’s kind of weird to think that I’m taking a college class in the same place where so much basketball history has happened,” Ayers said. “I think it’s pretty awesome that we’re able to do things like this at Butler compared to other schools that would never do them.”
It is obvious all the uses that the university and the athletic department can get out of Hinkle Fieldhouse. Hinkle is not only home to a top-tier basketball program, it is home to a whole athletic department along with thousands of students, fans and Butler faithful.