Assembly Hall (Bloomington)
|Branch McCracken Court|
|Location||1001 East 17th Street
Bloomington, Indiana 47408-1590
|Owner||Indiana University Bloomington|
|Operator||Indiana University Bloomington|
|Broke ground||December 22, 1967|
|Opened||September 12, 1971|
|Construction cost||$26.6 million
($155 million in 2016 dollars)
|Architect||Eggers & Higgins|
|Structural engineer||Severud Associates|
|General contractor||F.A. Wilhelm Construction Co., Inc.|
|Indiana Hoosiers (NCAA) (1971–present)|
Assembly Hall is a 17,472-seat arena on the campus of Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. It is the home of the Indiana Hoosiers men's basketball and women's basketball teams. It opened in 1971, replacing the current Gladstein Fieldhouse. The court is named after Branch McCracken, the men's basketball coach who led the school to its first two NCAA National Championships in 1940 and 1953. Basketball sportscaster Gus Johnson called the Assembly Hall "the Carnegie Hall of basketball."
Indiana officials spent decades planning and four years of construction before The Assembly Hall was finally opened in 1971 at a cost of $26.6 million. The new "Assembly Hall" was named in honor of the school's first basketball arena of the same name. The facility was intended to be aesthetically pleasing and hold a large capacity while offering modern conveniences.
School officials were intent on having the majority of the seats on the sides in order to improve the viewing experience, with only a small number (twenty rows of bleachers) behind the baskets. Thus, in order to fit over 17,000 seats in the arena the sides needed to be very steep. The facility also features two balconies, but they are so high up that sitting in them can feel quite far away from the court.
The Assembly Hall has been criticized by some fans for its unique design. Because the facility was designed without consideration for the video replay board added in 2005 that currently hangs above center-court, some of the top rows of the lower level are obstructed from the replay board by the overhanging balcony. The entire court itself, however, is still viewable. In December of 2013, 24 monitors were added to the areas that had previously been obstructed. Work was completed by Strauser Construction and Cassady Electric.
Upgrades and improvements
Indiana installed a new playing surface during the summer of 1995. New bleacher seats were added, as well, along with a media row and end seating platforms on Lobby Level.
Upon his dismissal from Indiana, head coach Bob Knight predicted that with his departure advertisements would soon find their way into The Assembly Hall. Knight said, "You'll see a new Assembly Hall this year I'm sure. There will probably be ads in it for everything from dog biscuits to Pepsi Cola, I would imagine. We've always tried to keep it really free from commercialism. It's kind of a sacred place where students come to play and students come to cheer."  In 2005 the school completed construction of a state-of-the-art, $1.9 million scoreboard-video board. As with Knight, some Hoosier purists criticized the new scoreboard and advertisements, which had never before been in The Assembly Hall.
In the spring of 2010 a new practice facility called Cook Hall was added adjacent to The Assembly Hall. The two facilities are connected to each other by an underground tunnel. Cook Hall is 67,000 square feet (6,200 m2) and features coaches' offices, locker rooms, player lounges, meeting/video rooms, new practice courts, training rooms, a strength development area, and a Legacy Court.
On December 19, 2013, Indiana University announced that a $40 million donation from Cynthia "Cindy" Simon Skjodt would be used to renovate Assembly Hall. Indiana University will rename Assembly Hall the Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall upon the completion of the renovations and improvements, which is currently anticipated to occur as early as 2016.
The south lobby will be restructured with a new entryway and dramatic atrium. Escalators will replace ramps in the south lobby. Throughout the arena, new branding and graphics will be updated to celebrate the tradition and success of IU basketball.
Existing bathrooms and concession stands will be remodeled and new bathrooms will be added. A large state-of-the-art video scoreboard will replace the current bifurcated scoreboard, improving fan experience for all fans in Assembly Hall, especially those sitting in the balcony. Box seat-style seating will be added above the south baseline bleachers and will generate revenue to pay for this seating and to help fund ongoing upkeep of Assembly Hall.
Behind the scenes, Assembly Hall's HVAC and other infrastructure systems will be updated and a state-of-the-art broadcast technology center will be added to enhance IU Athletics video production and game day broadcasts.
On February 18, 2014 an eight foot long beam over a foot wide fell and damaged the seats at Assembly Hall. The schedule game for that day against the University of Iowa was postponed due to safety concerns.
Atmosphere and success
The Assembly Hall is well known as being one of the loudest venues in college basketball, aided both by passionate fans and its unique design of steep sides. A 2012 poll of four ESPN pundits ranked it third in terms of best home-court advantages in the country. Since opening for the 1971-72 season, over six million fans have attended men's basketball games at the venue. The men's team has been historically successful there, posting home winning streaks of 50 and 35 games. The Assembly Hall has been home to three national championships, 32 straight winning teams, and twelve conference champions.
On June 22, 2007, Indiana University trustees approved the demolition of the Assembly Hall and the construction of a new basketball arena "when appropriate." Populous was hired to assess the benefits of renovating or replacing the Assembly Hall. The trustees decided against renovating the stadium for $115 million because construction of a new arena would cost $130 million. This idea was scrapped due to the University changing course and opting to renovate Assembly Hall in December 2013.
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- Woods, Alden (December 19, 2013). "$40 million donated for Assembly Hall renovations". Indiana Daily Student. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
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- Medcalf, Myron (18 February 2014). "Iowa-Indiana game postponed". ESPN.com. Retrieved 18 February 2014.
- Osterman, Zach (18 February 2014). "IU basketball game postponed after metal falls from Assembly Hall ceiling". IndyStar.com. Retrieved 18 February 2014.
- King, Jason (December 12, 2012). "King's Court: UK's Backcourt Blues". ESPN. Retrieved December 12, 2012.
- "IU Trustees Back Move to Replace Assembly Hall". WTHR (Indianapolis). June 22, 2007. Retrieved April 8, 2012.
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