Archive for Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Ask Gary’ takes on remodeling Allen Fieldhouse

August 21, 2002



In the last Ask Gary, I asked you fans if you wanted to keep Allen Fieldhouse or perhaps build a new basketball palace on KU's campus.

I received some interesting replies and here they are. ...

p.s. I enjoyed reading these replies. These were all the replies I received. Not a lot, but entertaining nonetheless. Thanks for replying.

Reply number One

"You don't tear down the greatest place to play college basketball in hopes it may have a slight impact on recruiting for the next five or so years. Allen Fieldhouse has a more positive impact on recruiting than a new building would.

As far as facilities are concerned, recruits should think about things like the brand new strength center KU is building. I can't imagine going to watch the 'Hawks play a home game anywhere else besides Allen.

P.S. I've always been confident the Jayhawks would win a national championship while I'm attending KU, and I've only got one more year of grad school left, so things are looking good." Signed, Last Chance

Reply number Two

"Great columns, Gary! I glad there's the internet so that I can keep up on your ramblings ... er, I mean writings. Keep up the good work.

Now, about Allen: I think you nailed it. KU does NOT need another arena. I was there from 1983-88 and didn't miss one home game. It is a GREAT place to watch basketball. I thought that the Missouri game early this year was the loudest I've ever seen it (and I got this from ESPN long before the announcers made that observation), and I've seen it LOUD, in person (Memphis State, 1985; Oklahoma every year; Duke, 1988).

If Missouri wants to build a new place, let them. And remind them of what happens when one of our arch-rivals builds a new place (Bramlage!!). Allen's still one of the best courts, and it's because of its age. When everyone has gone to whiz-bang to spruce up their arenas, we'll have the only one with the Phog, and the tradition, and the ghosts of every rival.

The day they turn out the lights on Allen will be the darkest day in KU basketball. No true KU fan will/should ever, even for a minute, contemplate that KU basketball's home will be any place other than Allen Fieldhouse. Even if they run out space on the rafter to hang one more banner!" Signed, Sriram Naganathan, San Jose, CA (

Reply number three

"Hey, Gary! Just read and enjoyed your most recent "Ask Gary" column.

Allen Field House? Hey, I grew up there! Seriously, one of the first things I can remember is my dad bundling us up and walking us up the hill to watch Wilt play. (We lived in a house we rented from the university that was where Oliver Hall stands now.)

My dad was grounds supervisor/landscape architect at KU. We went to all the basketball games from the time Allen was built. (I suppose I saw some games in Hoch but was too young to remember those).

I'm with Jacque don't do anything to Allen unless it becomes physically unsafe. What an awesome, awesome place it is. I go there whenever we get back and just sit in the stands and soak in the atmosphere." Blessings, Beth, Dayton, TN

Reply number four

"In answer to the question you posed to all of us readers, 'Should Kansas built a brand new basketball arena?' my guess is that you're going to get a resounding chorus of no's. And I'm 99% with that line of thinking. The ONLY way I'd accept the replacement of Allen Field House is if it were done with the style of say, a Camden Yards. Brand new amenities, more seats, but with all the retro charm of the original field house. Otherwise, don't EVER touch it. Sean Rodman, Fort Wayne, IN

Reply number five

"The new Missouri fieldhouse question and should KU build a new one to compete spawns this comment. I hope Allen Fieldhouse lasts as long as Roy Williams is our head coach. After his retirement, many years from now, it would be great to then see an effort to build a new fieldhouse..... Williams Fieldhouse!" Signed, Larry, a KU fan in St. Louis

Reply number six

"Gary:I just finished reading your column where a reader asked whether KU would need to build a new arena to compete with the new basketball facility Missouri is building. You asked for people to comment on whether Allen should be replaced and our opinions on the effect it has on recruiting.

I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that there is no way we need to build a new facility and that our ability to compete is not affected by the age of the Fieldhouse.

First, there is the obvious issue of history. We KU fans rightly take great pride in the history of KU basketball and its place in and impact on the whole game of basketball. Without Kansas, basketball would still have been invented, but no one can deny that it would be a completely different landscape. Can anyone imagine what basketball would be like if Dr. Naismith hadn't had Phog Allen as a protege?

"And what if Coach Allen hadn't been around to mentor Adolph Rupp and Dean Smith? Where would Larry Brown, Roy Williams, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain be now? It's hard to say what would have become of those people, but it is easy to say that the game of basketball would have been completely different.

Part of our history in basketball is the Fieldhouse. If we have such a strong love of our history, why should we want to go out and raze one of the (if not THE) longest-lasting elements and biggest iconic symbols of our history?

"Second, anyone who thinks that a new arena would help Mizzou in recruiting needs to slow down and think that over a little bit. The Hearnes Center, where Missouri currently plays, is about half the age of Allen Fieldhouse and I don't think I've ever heard anyone suggest that Missouri ever got a recruiting advantage out of the place.

Additionally, if a new building is such a great help to recruiting and old buildings hurt your chances at a national championship, why is it that the current champion, Maryland, just finished playing its last season in the ancient Cole Fieldhouse? Was that a great detriment to Maryland? I think you could compellingly argue that it wasn't.

"And what about Duke and Cameron Stadium? It doesn't seem like Duke has been hurt in recruiting efforts by an old building and their recent performance in NCAA tournaments certainly suggests that they haven't lost any championships because of the age of their building. For another example, look at Oklahoma State. I hardly think Eddie Sutton would argue that Gallagher-Iba presents him any special challenges.

"Now, look at the other side of the coin. I'm not sure I can name a school that has had tremendous success tied in any way to a new building. K-State was once a power in the Big 8 and then they abandoned Ahearn Fieldhouse. How's that working out for them?

"I know there is a vocal minority who says that the Wildcats should abandon Bramlage for a return to Ahearn and its hard to argue with them as recruiting and winning have both gone down the toilet since that move was made.

And look at North Carolina. Yes, they do have a new (or at least new-ish) arena, but does anyone really think that the Dean Dome has been the key to their success? If so, why wasn't Bill Guthridge able to do a better recruiting job in his last year or two? And why has Matt Doherty had such a difficult first two years? Is this related to the building? I don't think so.

The same thing goes for Kentucky. Rupp Arena is a nice facility, but does it give Kentucky a recruiting advantage? If recruiting and winning are helped so much by a building, why did Joe B. Hall have such a rough time when the arena was new?

And let's look at a couple of other traditional powers. UCLA has been playing in Pauley Pavilion for an awful long time, but only John Wooden had truly amazing success there.

Indiana has played in the same arena for as long as I can remember. I wonder if recruiting was hurt by the old building or maybe Bob Knight's reputation. Mike Davis certainly hasn't seemed troubled by the thing.

And if a new arena is so great, why haven't I seen Texas A&M; anywhere near the top finishers in the Big XII since their new place was built?

I know I've taken a lot of your time, assuming you have read this far, but I really get worked up when people say that we need a new arena to help with recruiting. Kids might like to play in a new arena, but it is my belief that they want to play for a winner and a good coach. If the arena is old but still full, I have no doubt that a kid will still sign to play there. People who say we should get a new arena should at least be honest and admit that it's because a new arena would be a new source of revenue. That's not a good enough reason to change, but it certainly is the only reason to even consider the idea." Sincerely, Gavin, Overland Park, Kansas

Reply number seven

"First of all, do we really want someone from the state of Misery to have any input on a new basketball arena?

Second, Misery should emulate us to be successful not the other way around.

Third, new arenas are no panacea. K-State has been nothing without venerable Ahearn Fieldhouse. North Carolina's new Dean Dome is so quiet they have to pump in noise.

Fourth, tear down Allen Fieldhouse? Mr. Hoppenstuff is either too young to appreciate ithistory or he's been puffinstuff.

Allen Fieldhouse is a gem. It may not be perfect but it is damn close. I think any money earmarked for basketball facilities should go towards upgrading Allen rather than replacing it." Rock Chalk from Dayton, Ohio Rick.

Reply number eight

"Gary. If you want to see what we think of the idea of building a new glitzy field house with all the bells and whistles, sky boxes, etc. just take a look down at KSU. The building of Bramlage with some big donors money has been a Godsend to Kansas. When I was in college, I went to Ahearn to watch the KU-KState game. It was almost as good of an environment as Allen Field House. I do not see us losing at Bramlage any time soon, and I hope that we are wise enough to realize that Kansas is the keeper of much of basketball lore, and to relinquish that for just another new building is nuts. I cannot imagine the fan base donating one thin dime for such a ridiculous project. I love the old barn, and hope they scatter my ashes there at half court after we beat the bleep out of Missouri. P.S. I love your columns and you questions and answers." David

Reply number nine

"Gary, Nice job as usual with the Ask Gary column. My opinion on Allen Fieldhouse? Rock Chalk Jayhawk just wouldn't be the same without it. Of course, I don't know what the Athletic Department thinks of it, but as a fan I've loved it for over three decades. I like how close the seats are to the game, and the seats have just the right pitch. The only improvement I'd suggest is an expanded basketball trophy/display area. It's tricky building a new arena well. I haven't been in any that are better than Allen (although I hear good things about the Razorback palace). I suspect that new arenas are highly overrated as a recruiting advantage. Players want many things other than a new arena, to wit my question: How many recruits do you think KU has lost to other schools primarily because of the competition's facilities?

"I've always like going to games in Allen and hope they don't tear it down for a long time. I've always been amazed that 16,800 can leave their seats at halftime and get around the building unlike Kemper!

One question, Allen has almost no sidelines and when checking into a game players are almost on the court. I take it that's not a problem or a concern to coaches. Signed, Mike Ardis.

Here's my next reader question: "What are your thoughts about Late Night With Roy Williams? Should KU keep it the same or change the format? What do you like and dislike about Late Night With Roy?" Send me your Late Night with Roy stories and comments. Send em now. Dunk you very much.

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