Welsh-Ryan Arena

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Welsh-Ryan Arena
"The Sea of Purple", "The Litter Box","The Shrine"
Welsh-Ryan Arena.png
Former names McGaw Memorial Hall (1952–1983)
Location 2705 Ashland Avenue
Evanston, IL 60201
Owner Northwestern University
Operator Northwestern University
Capacity 8,117 (1983–present)
7,070 (1981–1983)
7,013 (1973–1981)
8,800 (1960–1973)
9,500 (1952–1960)
Surface Hardwood
Broke ground May 1, 1951[1]
Opened December 6, 1952
Renovated 1983
Construction cost $1.25 million
($11.1 million in 2015 dollars[2])
Architect Holabird & Root & Burgee
General contractor R.C. Weiboldt Construction Company[3]
Northwestern Wildcats
(Basketball, Volleyball, Wrestling)

Welsh-Ryan Arena is an 8,117-seat multi-purpose arena in Evanston, Illinois, United States. The arena opened in 1952 as McGaw Memorial Hall. It is home to the Northwestern University Wildcats basketball, volleyball and wrestling teams. It is located to the north of Ryan Field on the Northwestern campus, and also contains the stadium's field house. The arena hosted the NCAA Final Four in 1956. Patten Gymnasium, formerly located on the main campus at Northwestern, hosted the first NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament in 1939 and was later torn down in order to build the Technological Institute in its place, which was completed in 1942. A smaller Patten Gymnasium was built to the north of the original site, which still stands and is mostly used for student recreation, intramural sports, and club sports.

McGaw Memorial Hall was named in memory of the Rev. Francis McGaw, a Presbyterian minister whose son, Foster McGaw donated the necessary funds. The arena itself was renamed following the 1982-83 renovations in honor of the principal donor, Patrick G. Ryan, president of the Board of Trustees, and of his wife's parents, Mr. & Mrs. Robert J. Welsh, Sr.

Welsh-Ryan was the only basketball arena in the Big Ten Conference that did not seat at least 10,000. Its capacity is more than 4,500 seats fewer than the next smallest arena in the conference, the Crisler Center at Michigan. Welsh-Ryan lost its status as the Big Ten's smallest arena in 2014 when Rutgers joined the conference. The Scarlet Knights' facility, the Louis Brown Athletic Center (colloquially known as the Rutgers Athletic Center or "RAC") has a listed capacity of 8,000.


  1. ^ "NU Will Begin Work Tuesday on Fieldhouse". Chicago Daily Tribune. April 29, 1951. Retrieved November 11, 2013. 
  2. ^ Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  3. ^ Dubin, Howard (August 15, 1952). "New McGaw Hall to Open for First Basketball Game". The Daily Northwestern (Northwestern University). Retrieved November 11, 2013. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Municipal Auditorium
NCAA Men's Division I
Basketball Tournament
Finals Venue

Succeeded by
Municipal Auditorium

Coordinates: 42°4′1″N 87°41′34″W / 42.06694°N 87.69278°W / 42.06694; -87.69278