Butler will begin play in the Big East next season with Hinkle Fieldhouse, its home floor for more than 80 years under renovations that will cost up to $34 million dollars. The university believes the renovations will be complete around November 2014.
“The important role our athletic programs have had within Butler’s strategy and national profile-raising,” Butler President James Danko said in a statement published by the Indianapolis Star.
“We want it to feel the same as it did,” Butler Athletic Director Barry Collier told David Woods. “So you’ll see the shape of the bowl will not change, the height of the floor will not change, the height of the lights will not change. The hallways will be more like they were in the ’20s, when they weren’t full of coaches’ offices.”
As Woods reports, the long-standing venue will see major improvements:
Beginning in the 2014-15 season, the fieldhouse will have wider concourses, 5,000 chairbacks, more handicapped seating, handrails and new bathrooms. Capacity will be about 9,100, less than the current 10,000 but more than previous estimates.
Work has begun on the $23-million first phase, which focuses on the 17,700-square-foot, three-story space on the site of Hinkle’s former natatorium, which hasn’t been used for several years. The basement will feature a weightroom and the main floor an academic center. The top level will include coaches’ and administrators’ offices.
While this iconic arena will be updated to the 21st century, Butler wants to keep much of the original fieldhouse, according to the Indy Star.
“We want them to feel the same mystery and the same atmosphere that Hinkle has had for so long,” added Collier.
Butler begins play in the new Big East following a one-year stint in the Atlantic 10 Conference.