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Williams Arena
"The Barn"
Williams arena ct.JPG
Former names Minnesota Field House (1928-1950)
Location 1925 SE University Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Broke ground 1927
Opened 1928
Owner University of Minnesota
Operator University of Minnesota
Construction cost $650,000
Capacity 14,625 (Arena proper)
5,700 (Sports Pavilion)
Tenants
Minnesota Golden Gophers
(Men's & Women's Basketball,
Men's & Women's Gymnastics,
Volleyball and Wrestling)
1951 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament

Williams Arena, located on the Twin Cities main campus of the University of Minnesota is the home of the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers men's and women's basketball teams. The building is known affectionately as "The Barn," and its student section is known as The Barnyard.

Williams Arena is located on the Southwest corner of the intersection of University Avenue and 19th Ave. SE in Minneapolis on the East Bank of the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, in a section of Minneapolis, Minnesota known as Stadium Village, named for the old Memorial Stadium that stood there until its demolition in 1992. TCF Bank Stadium, where the football team plays, is located across the street from Williams Arena.

Contents

History

The entrance

Initially known as the Minnesota Field House (another building has that name today), Williams Arena was constructed in the 1920s and opened in 1928. The arena was remodeled in the 1950s, and renamed Williams Arena after Dr. Henry L. Williams, the football coach from 1900 to 1921.

During a 1950s renovation, it was divided into two separate arenas within one building. The larger one for basketball and the smaller one for hockey were called Williams Arena until March 2, 1985, when the hockey section was renamed Mariucci Arena after John Mariucci. The hockey team moved into a new building across the street from Williams in the early 1990s. This building was also named Mariucci Arena. The old Mariucci Arena within Williams was remodeled into the Sports Pavilion and now houses the volleyball, wrestling and gymnastic teams.

The venue hosted the 1951 NCAA Men's Division I championship game and the Frozen Four in 1958 and 1966.

Design

The building has an arched roof, in the same manner as an airplane hangar. The double arch steel beams allowed an open space for the bleachers and floor. There are some seats with partially obscured views due to the upper deck extending past the trusses.

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Raised floor

Williams Arena features a unique raised floor design. The court surface is raised above the ground approximately two feet so that players' benches, officials tables, etc., are actually below the court. The same goes for fans with the first row looking at players at about knee-level. Normally, other than the officials and those players actively playing, only head coaches are allowed to be on court itself. The raised floor is one of only a few remaining examples left and contributes significantly to the historic aura of the 80 year-old arena. This served as the inspiration for the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship to host stadiums for their Final Four as of 2009 to have the floor about three feet off the stadium floor as part of an increased capacity to a minimum of 70,000. The floor in Williams Arena recently underwent a replacement. PCL Construction began work on May 11, 2009, replacing the original playing surface since 1928 with a new floor along with new basketball goals. This was the first major upgrade to the facility since a renovation occurred in the early 1990's. Memorial Gymnasium at Vanderbilt University[1] and Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis[2] are two other existing arenas with a raised floor. Robertson Memorial Field House at Bradley University, since demolished, also was an arena with a raised floor.[3]

Seating capacity

Seating capacities
1928–1950 14,100
1950–1971 18,025
1971–1987 17,500
1987–1993 16,434
1993–1997 14,321
1997–present 14,625

From 1950 until the opening of Marriott Center at Brigham Young University in 1971, it had the largest capacity of any collegiate basketball arena in the country. Hinkle Fieldhouse at Butler University also was constructed in 1928, and held the honor of being the highest capacity arena until the remodeling of Williams Arena in 1950.

Before Williams Arena

When the Gophers basketball team first organized, they played games in the on campus YMCA. In 1896, the team moved into the campus Armory, a large building with gymnasium space for the team to use, even if basketball was not its primary purpose.[4] The Gophers remained in the Armory for almost thirty years. Halfway through the 1924-25 season, coach Harold Taylor moved the team from the University Armory to the Kenwood Armory in downtown Minneapolis.[5] This significantly increased the attendance: capacity at the University Armory was 2,000, but it was 6,500 at Kenwood. The team only played at Kenwood for a few seasons, however, as the University of Minnesota Field House (later known as Williams Arena) opened partway through the 1927-1928 season. The team moved in on January 31, 1928.[5]

External links

References

  1. ^ Vanderbilt University Admissions: Self-Guided Tours
  2. ^ Richards, Phil - History's home court. Indianapolis Star, March 8, 2007. What makes a basketball building a cathedral? The tradition? The ghosts of great players and great games past? The raised floor with its singular springiness?
  3. ^ Ori, Ryan - Remembering Robertson:Origins of a Mecca Journal Star (Peoria, Illinois), March 25, 2008. Article notes that the Cow Palace in San Francisco also has a raised floor.
  4. ^ Hugunin, Marc and Stew Thornley. Minnesota Hoops: Basketball in the North Star State. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2006, pg. 6.
  5. ^ a b Hugunin and Thornley, pg. 50
Preceded by
Madison Square Garden
NCAA Men's Division I
Basketball Tournament
Finals Venue

1951
Succeeded by
Hec Edmundson Pavilion
Preceded by
Broadmoor Ice Palace
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Host of the
Frozen Four

1958
Succeeded by
RPI Field House
Troy, New York
Preceded by
Meehan Auditorium
Providence, Rhode Island
Host of the
Frozen Four

1966
Succeeded by
Onondaga War Memorial
Syracuse, New York

Coordinates: 44°58′37″N 93°13′42″W / 44.97694°N 93.22833°W / 44.97694; -93.22833


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