Hinkle's history to remain through renovations
The home of Hoosier Hysteria and decades of countless memories is in the middle of a major makeover.
Butler University is spending $34 million to modernize Hinkle Fieldhouse without sacrificing that sense of history fans expect when they walk through the doors.
The house Tony Hinkle built, a national historical landmark, a holy place of basketball, athletes and fans have worshiped all their lives, is breaking up history to build a future. As loud as the youngsters participating in a summer basketball camp were Wednesday, so were the sounds of breaking concrete and power tools.
"Fans will notice improvements in the amenities, but not a change in our character," said Butler Athletic Director Barry Collier.
He says promises the towering iron arches and windows, lighting and classic atmosphere stay. There will be a number of more comfortable seats, a new scoreboard, and a wider concourse.
Offices that were added over the decades and narrowed the walk ways are being removed.
"So this space is really stepping back to what people would have walked into in 1928 when the building opened," Collier explained.
Some of the building's disappearing history may please fans. Existing restrooms are being modernized and new ones are being added.
Another relic, Hinkle's swimming pool, is history. It hasn't held water for more than a decade. Heavy machinery is breaking up the pool, but leaving the surrounding build intact.
In place of the unused pool, Butler is building its first academic center for athletes. A new weight room, sports medicine center, and offices will replace facilities that are overused, out-of-date, and small. Some athletic department workers labor in offices the size of closets. Spilled soft drinks often leak into the offices below the bleachers.
When Hinkle was built, Butler had only four sports teams. Now, 19 are squeezed into the fieldhouse.
The improvements are expected to help Butler compete for top athletes as the small university now goes head-to-head with larger, better-known schools.
"We have to step up our game to be successful in the Big East. Hinkle Fieldhouse feels the same way. It needs to step up its game," Collier said.
Contractors have already remortared more than a quarter-million bricks and replaced 9,734 window panes. Electrical, plumbing and other mechanical improvements are being made to the 85-year-old landmark.
Renovations are expected to be finished around November of next year.