Florida Gymnasium

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Florida Gymnasium
Florida Gymnasium.jpg
Florida Gymnasium is located in Florida
Florida Gymnasium
Florida Gymnasium is located in the US
Florida Gymnasium
Location Gainesville, Florida
Coordinates 29°38′56″N 82°20′50″W / 29.64889°N 82.34722°W / 29.64889; -82.34722Coordinates: 29°38′56″N 82°20′50″W / 29.64889°N 82.34722°W / 29.64889; -82.34722
Built 1949
Architect Rudolph Weaver and Guy Fulton
Architectural style Collegiate Gothic
Website Official site

The Florida Gymnasium (commonly known as "Florida Gym" and formerly nicknamed "Alligator Alley") is a historic building located on the campus of the University of Florida (UF) in Gainesville, Florida. It opened in 1949 as a 7,000-seat multi-purpose arena that was home to the Florida Gators men's basketball team and other UF indoor sports teams until it was replaced by the Stephen C. O'Connell Center in 1980. While serving as the home court of the basketball team, it acquired the nickname "Alligator Alley."[1]

History[edit]

Before the Florida Gymnasium, UF's basketball team played and practiced in University Gymnasium, a small on-campus building which had opened in 1919. The University Gym was designed to be a recreational facility for students, not an arena to host spectators, so it was not considered a proper home court for an intercollegiate sports program.[1] Design work on a larger facility was started in the early 1940s by university architect Rudolph Weaver, but the project was postponed during World War II. Plans were completed by Guy Fulton, and the building was completed in 1949, soon after the university became co-educational.[2] The old University Gymnasium then became the Women's Gymnasium.

Alligator Alley was a difficult venue for opponents because the seating was very close to the court and, when full, the noise level was "deafening". However, it had no air conditioning and few amenities, and the court had to be shared by all UF indoor sports programs. As years passed, it was increasingly seen as small and outdated, and was compared to a "dismal and dreary old high school gym" by observers.[3] By the early 1970s, Florida was the only school in the Southeastern Conference without a modern basketball facility, a factor that affected the recruiting of top players and held back the growth of its long-mediocre basketball program.[4]

In 1975, the university began planning for a much larger multi-purpose sports arena. The O'Connell Center debuted in December 1980 as the new home of all of UF's indoor athletic teams.[5]

The Florida Gymnasium was gradually adapted to other uses after the O'Connell Center opened. It was used primarily as a student recreation center, and a series of renovations repurposed space for use by the College of Health and Human Performance. In the mid-1990s, the much larger Southwest Recreation Center opened across campus, and a major renovation of the Florida Gym removed the last of the original seating sections and added many modern classrooms. The basketball court remains in the center of the building, however, and is still used for student recreation and other purposes.[6]

In 2008, Florida Gymnasium became a contributing property in the University of Florida Campus Historic District which was added to the National Register of Historic Places on April 20, 1989.[7][8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Kevin M. McCarthy and Murray D. Laurie, Guide to the University of Florida and Gainesville, Pineapple Press, Sarasota, Florida, pp. 171–173 (1977).
  2. ^ Official Historical profile, UF Historical Campus website
  3. ^ "Alligator Alley Becomes Snakepit". UPI. 13 January 1976. 
  4. ^ Koss, Bill (1996). Pond birds : Gator basketball : the whole story from the inside. Gainesville, FL: Fast Break Press Distributed by University Press of Florida. ISBN 0813015235. 
  5. ^ Brockway, Kevin. "Dome Sweet Home". The Gainesville Sun. Retrieved 14 December 2016. 
  6. ^ "Florida Gym Basketball Courts". University of Florida. 
  7. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Listings". 
  8. ^ Crabbe, Nathan. "Nine sites added to UF's historic district". The Gainesville Sun.