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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.