Allen Fieldhouse
Allen Fieldhouse is an indoor arena at the University of Kansas (KU) in Lawrence, Kansas. The arena, named in honor of Dr. Forrest C. "Phog" Allen, who coached the university's men's basketball team for 39 years, is one of college basketball's most historically significant and prestigious buildings. The actual playing surface is the James Naismith Court, honoring the inventor of basketball who established Kansas' basketball program and served as its first coach from 1898 to 1907. Since the opening of Allen Fieldhouse in 1955, the Jayhawks have a home record of 666-107 (.862). Since February 20, 1994, the Jayhawks have lost only 13 regular season games in Allen Fieldhouse, a 253-13 record (.951) through March 2, 2011. Current Jayhawks Head Coach Bill Self is 129-7 (.948) in the historic structure, keeping up the tradition of Allen being one of the hardest places for opponents to play in the country. And if their home record doesn't scare an opposing team, the noise level will. On November 4, 2010, ESPN The Magazine named Allen Fieldhouse the loudest college basketball arena in the country.

Allen Fieldhouse was dedicated on March 1, 1955 when the Jayhawks defeated their in-state rival, the Kansas State Wildcats, 77-67. Since then renovations have included minor seating expansions in 1986 and 1994, as well as accessibility upgrades in 1999 to modernize concession stands and restroom facilities, and to install an elevator in the south end. Handicapped seating was moved courtside behind both baskets in 2001. Renovations completed in 2005 include a thorough cleaning of the exterior, and the creation of a new Booth Family Hall of Athletics facility on the east side of the Fieldhouse. Interior renovations include a new hardwood court, new windows, and a multi-million dollar video board and sound system. After 2006, new banners for the retired jerseys and conference and national championships were installed. Renovations completed in 2009 include an expansion of the Booth Family Hall of Athletics and the creation of a donor atrium, as well as improved concessions, wider concourses, and restroom upgrades. The building also received brand new locker rooms, training rooms, film rooms, and player lounges. A pedestrian bridge connecting the fieldhouse to the existing facility parking garage was also constructed. The improvements cost approximately $7.8 million . In December of 2010, the Booth family announced that they had purchased the founding document of the game of basketball, Dr. Naismith's original 13 rules of basketball. It is expected that the document will be permanently housed inside Allen Fieldhouse. Banners hang in the south rafters to honor such Jayhawk greats as Wilt Chamberlain, Clyde Lovellette, Jo Jo White, Danny Manning, Paul Pierce, Lynette Woodard, Drew Gooden, Nick Collison, and Kirk Hinrich. There is also a banner to honor Max Falkenstien, the legendary Jayhawks radio announcer, who served the university for more than 60 years. To date he is the only non-athlete to be honored at Allen Fieldhouse in this way. The east and west sides are devoted to KU's conference championships (a total of 54 as of 2011) as members of the Missouri Valley Conference, Big Six, Big Seven, Big Eight, and Big 12 Conferences, as well as the Jayhawks' trips to the Final Four. On the north wall hangs a banner reading "Pay Heed, All Who Enter: Beware of the Phog", in reference to the intimidating atmosphere and the team's home court dominance. The original "Pay Heed" banner was constructed out of dormitory shower curtains by a group of KU students before a late season game against the Duke Blue Devils in 1988 and is now on display in the Booth Family Hall of Athletics museum. The slogan was inspired in part by advertisements for the 1980's horror movie The Fog. It hung on the north wall until 1999, by which time it had deteriorated to the point where it was about to fall. The university replaced the banner with a much more regular-looking design, which met with negative reaction from the public. The current banner was redesigned to be more faithful to the look of the original. There are also banners for national championships in 1922, 1923 ( Helms Foundation championships), 1952, 1988, and 2008 that hang below the "Pay Heed" banner.

Building of Allen Fieldhouse began in 1955, but quickly slowed to a halt because of a federal mandate restricting steel consumption following the Second World War and during the Korean War. However, university officials were able to find a loophole: by adding some rooms for gun and weapons storage, construction of the building was able to continue under the guise of an "armory." The concourse was originally an indoor track, and at times the Fieldhouse has been home to men's and women's basketball, indoor track and field, volleyball, and practice facilities for the American football and softball teams. It has since specialized as facilities were constructed around campus to accommodate these needs, and now serves exclusively as the home for Jayhawk basketball. Allen Fieldhouse has also hosted several NCAA tournament regionals, NBA exhibition games, and occasional concerts such as The Beach Boys, Elton John, James Taylor, Sonny and Cher, Leon Russell, Alice Cooper, ZZ Top, Tina Turner, Harry Belafonte, Henry Mancini, The Doobie Brothers, Kansas and Bob Hope as well as speakers, including former U.S. President Bill Clinton in 2004, U.S. presidential candidate Senator Robert F. Kennedy (which drew over 20,000) in 1968 and the anarchist Abbie Hoffman in 1970. Kansas won 69 consecutive games at the Fieldhouse between February 3, 2007 and January 17, 2011 until Texas ended the longest streak in NCAA Division I since 1992 with a 74-63 win against Kansas on January 22, 2011. This streak broke Kansas' previous school record, which lasted from February 26, 1994 through December 18, 1998 (during which time, the Big 8 Conference transformed into the Big XII). The Jayhawks also completed a 55-game streak between February 22, 1984 through January 30, 1988, which remains a record for the Big 8 era. Max Falkenstien was a stalwart figure in the radio booth, working every home game in Allen Fieldhouse from its construction to his retirement in 2006, 51 years later. Prior to playing at Allen, the basketball team played at Hoch Auditorium, their home from the beginning of the 1927 season to the end of the 1955 season. Before that, the Jayhawks played at Robinson Gymnasium, whose design was heavily influenced by the advice of Dr. Naismith. Robinson was razed in 1967 and is now the site of Wescoe Hall.

Allen Fieldhouse was originally built with a capacity of 17,000. During Ted Owens' coaching period, the capacity was reduced to 15,200. It was raised to 15,800 in the 1986 offseason ( Larry Brown was the coach at the time), and since 1993, its official capacity has been 16,300. Of these seats, 4,000 are dedicated to current KU students, with most of the remainder taken by season-ticket-holding members of the Williams Educational Fund, the fundraising arm of KU Athletics, named after Lawrence banker Dick Williams and his sons, Skipper and Odd. The largest crowd in Allen Fieldhouse for a basketball game was 17,228 on March 1, 1955 when the building was dedicated. Barring another expansion of seating, it is unlikely that this record will ever be broken as fire codes have forced KU to strictly enforce the building's capacity since the mid-1980s.

Before the start of every home game, it is tradition to sing the alma mater, "Crimson and the Blue"; which is concluded by the famous Rock Chalk Chant. During the alma mater, the students throw their arms around their neighbors and sway back and forth, raising their arms above their heads for the end line, "Hail to old KU." After singing The Star-Spangled Banner, while the opposing team is being introduced, the members of the student section take out a copy of the student-run newspaper, The University Daily Kansan, and wave the paper in front of their faces, pretending to be reading it in an effort to show disinterest in the opposing team. After the opponents are introduced, a short video, detailing the history and the accomplishments of Kansas basketball is shown, to get the crowd excited. As the Jayhawks are introduced, the students rip up their newspapers and throw the confetti pieces of paper in the air as celebration. Whatever confetti remains is typically thrown in the air after the first basket made by the Jayhawks. If an opposing player fouls out of the game, the crowd will "wave the wheat," waving their arms back and forth, as a sarcastic good-bye to the disqualified player. The same motion is done after a game has been won by the Jayhawks. If the Jayhawks are leading comfortably with about two minutes remaining in the game, the crowd begins to do a slow version of the Rock Chalk Chant, which has become the signature tradition of Allen Fieldhouse.

Building Activity

  • Brett Glover
    Brett Glover commented
    Rock chalk!
    about 5 years ago via