|Former names||VPI Coliseum (1962–1977)|
|Location||Washington Street & Spring Road
Blacksburg, VA 24061
|Opened||January 3, 1962|
|Construction cost||$2.7 million
($21.1 million in 2015 dollars)
|Architect||Carneal and Johnston|
|General contractor||T.C. Brittain and Company|
|Virginia Tech Hokies
(Men's & Women's Basketball, Volleyball, & Wrestling)
Built as a replacement for the much smaller War Memorial Gymnasium, the Coliseum's construction began in 1961. It was fully completed in December 1964 at a cost of $2.7 million. It was designed by Carneal and Johnston (now Ballou Justice Upton Architects, Richmond, Va) and built by T.C. Brittain and Company of Decatur, Georgia. Originally just referred to as "the Coliseum," it was dedicated on September 17, 1977 to the late Stuart K. Cassell, former school business manager, first Vice President of Administration, and major supporter of the building of the arena.
In the early years of the Coliseum, the Hokies frequently saw capacity crowds pack the venue. However, student and alumni interest in basketball decreased in the 1990s due to the Hokies' lack of a stable basketball conference home (the Hokies were in three different conferences in nine seasons) and due to the success of the football team. Fan support has begun to gain momentum under coach Seth Greenberg and the school's recent move to the ACC. A raucous student section, nicknamed the "Cassell Guard," has helped transform the Coliseum into a difficult venue for opposing teams in an athletic conference ripe with intimidating basketball arenas.
On June 27, 1996, a construction worker fell 90 feet to his death on the coliseum floor. Dewey Wayne Duncan of Pulaski, VA, who was working outside the coliseum on the roof, stepped on a section of the roof that was covered only by a ceiling tile. The tile collapsed, and Duncan fell through the roof.
On April 17, 2007, a memorial convocation was held there in response to the shootings of 32 students and faculty on the Virginia Tech campus the previous day. President George W. Bush and his wife Laura attended the event.
Over the years, Cassell has undergone various updates, most recently those being a new sound system, new lights inside building over the court, a well as a refinished court.
Arguably the biggest game that took place at Cassell Coliseum occurred on February 17, 2005, during Virginia Tech's first season in the Atlantic Coast Conference. In their first meeting at Cameron Indoor Stadium on January 30, the Duke Blue Devils lost to the Hokies by two points. Coming into Blacksburg, the Blue Devils were ranked seventh nationally. By the end of the night, the Blue Devils were handed a 67-65 loss by the Hokies in front of 9,847 fans. It was the first time that Virginia Tech had beaten Duke since 1966.
However, there is one recent game that might challenge for this prominency. On January 13, 2007, Virginia Tech defeated the number one ranked North Carolina Tar Heels by a score of 94-88. At one point in the game, the Hokies led by 29 points. They were able to hold off a strong surge by the Tar Heels to seal the victory.
On March 22, 2010, Virginia Tech beat UConn in Cassell on national television in the second round of the NIT tournament. Trailing 63-62, the Hokies' defense pressured Connecticut into a backcourt violation. With 14.1 seconds remaining, the Hokies took the lead with a Dorenzo Hudson jump shot. The Hokies' defense was able to stop Connecticut from scoring for a 65-62 victory.
On February 26, 2011, Duke fell to Virginia Tech by a score of 64-60. At the time Duke was the number one ranked team in the country. It was Virginia Tech's fourth upset of a number one ranked team under Seth Greenberg. New York Giant, David Wilson was seen doing back flips on the court with fellow classmate and track & field star, Nick McLaughlin following a halftime award ceremony recognizing the 2011 ACC Indoor Track and Field Champions.
The largest crowd ever at the Cassell was 11,500 for a game against Purdue on December 3, 1966.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Cassell Coliseum.|
- Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.