IU rolling out capital campaign to improve Assembly Hall

August 27, 2013
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In his four years as Indiana University athletic director, Fred Glass has become one of the greatest defenders Assembly Hall has ever known.

Often criticized for its poor sightlines, archaic seating arrangement and narrow and difficult-to-navigate corridors, Glass maintains that Assembly Hall is part of IU’s historical sports fabric.

On Monday, he told reporters the 42-year-old venue would be renovated, not replaced. His proclamation comes despite the fact that IU trustees have said (going back to before Glass was athletic director) that renovating the venue was not a practical option.

Glass also told reporters that IU is getting close to announcing a capital campaign to improve its sports infrastructure. He declined to divulge details other than to say it will likely kick off this fall or early winter.

Glass told reporters Monday that replacing Assembly Hall would cost about $300 million, and “would suck all the oxygen out of what all we’re trying to do.” Glass is so in love with Assembly Hall that he said he doesn’t think he’d want to replace Assembly Hall even if he could do it “for free.”

Perhaps Glass hasn’t sat up high in the main level—especially in the corners—or in the balcony lately.

Glass calls Assembly Hall “venerable” and “iconic.” He also notes that all the modern amenities at the three-year-old Cook Hall give Assembly Hall a longer shelf life.

The only problem is, most IU followers and alums don’t get to enjoy Cook Hall’s amenities. Those amenities certainly don’t make watching a game in Assembly Hall more enjoyable.

No matter, Glass is committed to improving the experience in Assembly Hall.

Glass told reporters Monday that he doesn’t plan a wholesale overhaul of Assembly Hall, but tweaks to make the viewing experience more enjoyable. He noted that making it easier for fans, especially the elderly and disabled, to move around is a priority.

IU officials have done much in recent years to improve the experience at the school’s football venue, Memorial Stadium. Under Glass, televisions were added to the concourses, a play area for children was built in the south end zone, a high-definition scoreboard was installed, concession stands were renovated, ticket booths were expanded and new fencing was installed around the stadium. The cost was about $3 million.

In 2003, before Glass arrived, Memorial Stadium’s press box was renovated and 300 indoor club seats and nine suites were added. In 2006, IU announced plans to expand Memorial Stadium and enclose the north end. Those improvements, which were completed in 2009, provided additional classroom space, a weight training room, Hall of Fame and expanded seating for fans.

  • A little TLC would help
    As a season ticketholder, I've seen a few things that could help make the experience better, probably at a reasonable cost: -better ventilation for the seats under the balcony, it gets really stuffy -some sort of score board that can be seen by people sitting under the balcony (can't see the giant tv screen either) -general maintenance, like changing light bulbs (the one over our seats was burnt out three years straight). -space out the facilities in the mens rooms so that you aren't shoulder to shoulder (some of the mens rooms have all the men standing shoulder to shoulder, then there is 10 ft of free wall space just to the side, makes no sense). -Figureout how and where to build more bathroom facilities, lines at half time are horrible. Maybe convert some offices or build somehow on the outside of the hallways. -Bring some color to the stark, concrete walkways -Wider seats and cupholders would be great too. Speaking of seats, how about cream and crimson ones, rather than blue? Not to complain, I love Assembly and the noise, but it could use some TLC. And yes, we are no longer under the balcony, and it makes a world of difference!
    • Glass
      I want one simple thing. The rail in the balcony needs raised and made of glass. Its not high enough and its a big metal bar. Seating view would be much better for the first 4 rows. The cave under the balcony is awful as well.
    • It's an Embarrassment
      Fred Glass needs to get out of his cushy skybox. Assembly Hall is an embarrassment to Indiana University. His reluctance to build a new basketball facility is particularly troubling given the stature of IU's program. Assembly Hall has the appearance of a basement on broadcast. The sightlines are terrible. The design is wretched. The facility should have been designed in a circle, like Purdue's facility, instead of a rectangle, to ensure better sightlines. I'm an IU grad and loved the basketball program, but I hated Assembly Hall.
    • New Arena
      As much as AH gives IU an intimidation advantage, the reality is a new arena would be best. There are some IU alums with deep pockets, I don't know why 400 million could not be resided. 300 million for basketball, 50 million football, the rest can fight over what remains.
    • If You Build It...
      Obviously the athletic director has never sat in the hot, stuffy higher rows of the lower level and not be able to see the main scoreboard...as thousands of fans do. And the balcony is an advertisement for vertigo medicines. One of the reasons we opted to not renew our season tickets to the beloved Hosiers basketball team this year was because we saw little or no hope of improving our seats despite the payment of extra $$ to be a supporter. The AD's comments and plan appear to be very short-sighted. The arena is simply not basketball friendly and Hoosier fans will not only welcome a new and enhanced arena from the current relic, but also provide plenty of support to get the job done. To the AD - lead or get out the way....don't spend $$ on "improvements" to an outdated arena. If you build it...we will come! Go Hoosiers!
    • Keep Assembly Hall
      Those who are spouting off about replacing The Assembly Hall need to realize a few things. 1. All new "state of the art" arenas are sterile with no character. Look at the Yum center in Louisville, it could be anywhere usa, and therefor is noplace important or interesting. 2. New ADA requirements of a new arena would result in less steep seating which eliminates a HUGE home court advantage. Most opposing players talk about how the fans are "on top of them"...that would be gone. 3.History!! This country has forgotten how to appreciate old buildings with history. Assembly hall is a famous, unique arena with character and history of Knight, the 76 team, Alford, Cheaney, the Wat shot, etc. All that is lost if torn down and it's not even that old. Cameron indoor is the size of a high school gym and no one wants to replace it. Hinkle has narrow halls (Assembly actually is pretty crowd friendly as the ramps are pretty wide, not narrow) and old bathrooms, but no one is tearing it down either. 4. Modern technology and architecture can come up with a solution, look at the renovation going on at Pepsi coliseum. Maybe IU could tear out the balcony and rebuild them in a better way, or add them on the baselines.
      • New or Used ?
        There is just one issue here, new or used. If IU and it's boosters want to save money, then do not build a new facility to replace Assembly Hall. For those who seem to think an aging facility requires due deference owning to work done by humans in it's confines then develop appropriate honorariums to them other than an old building. If an old building is what some want then they can go and watch IU b-ball in the hyper building.....they would more than likely see the game better there than many of the seats in the Hall.
      • Replace It!
        I was there for the dedication of Assembly Hall - didn't like it then and don't like it now. It was a mistake from the beginning and should be replaced. It was some kind of architects dream that got sold to professional educators, not a great sports venue. I personally don't find anything iconic about the place. It's time to make new memories.
      • Clone Banker's Life
        We have one of the greatest basketball facilities in the country with Banker's LIfe Fieldhouse with character even as a newer arena. Clone Banker's Life but on a smaller scale. I enjoyed watching some iconic games at the arena but the fact remails it is not a good place for fans.
      • dude
        good suggests, how about turning the court 90 degrees? close in the former short end of the court, and create more court seating. Easily swapping out any loss of court seats on the former configuration. Basically making it into a bowl, and they might be able to get rid of the very top balcony seats. RMK had suggested this years ago
      • Assembly Hall
        There seems to be a reluctance to admit that Assembly Hall was a design disaster from the beginning. Get past it, and build something that shows what Indiana basketball is about.

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