Cole Field House

The William P. Cole, Jr. Student Activities Building, more commonly known as Cole Field House, was the home of the University of Maryland basketball teams from 1955 until it was replaced by Comcast Center in 2002. Cole is situated in the heart of the campus, just across a street from Stamp Student Union and near McKeldin Library.

The building was originally constructed in 1955 as the Student Activities Building at a cost of $3.3 million. Although the building's original capacity was 12,000, additional seats were installed throughout the years to bring the final capacity to 14,596 (in 1993). The first basketball game was played on December 2, 1955, when Maryland beat Virginia 67”“55. When college basketball was achieving its most explosive growth - from the late 1950s to the late 1970s ”“ there was one college gymnasium on the East Coast that sat as many as 12,000 fans. The first coach at the venue Bud Millikan did not like its size saying at one point "It's like playing on a neutral court" with seats too far from the courts. In the late 1960s Lefty Driesell added a nearly 3,000 seats around the court raising the hometown decibel level. The center was renamed the William P. Cole, Jr. Student Activities Building in 1956 after Judge William P. Cole, Jr., who was chairman of the university's Board of Regents from 1944 to 1956. Cole Field House held its first East Regional finals in 1962, when NYU defeated St. John's in the final, 94”“85. The Final Four was first held here in 1966 between Duke, Kentucky, Texas Western (now UTEP), and Utah. Texas Western (which started all black players) upset Kentucky's all white team 72”“65 in front of a crowd of 14,253. Future Maryland men's basketball coach Gary Williams, then a student, attended the game. Cole also hosted the Final Four in 1970. In 1991, Cole was the site of the first ever upset of a 2-seed at the hands of a 15-seed, as Richmond defeated heavily-favored Syracuse, 73-69. The Maryland Maniacs indoor football team used Cole Field House as its home venue during 2010.

In the 1990s, the administration at Maryland followed a trend occurring at other schools in the ACC to seek a new facility that provided more seating and amenities than were present at Cole Field House. However, this decision brought some debate. Coach Gary Williams privately wished the team remain at Cole due to the home court advantage he received as a small, cramped arena made Cole Field House a loud and difficult place for opponents to play in. The last Maryland men's basketball game played at Cole Field House was on March 3, 2002, when Maryland defeated Virginia 112”“92. The team now plays at the Comcast Center. Overall, 13 men's All-Americans and 4 women's All-Americans have played at Cole. Maryland men's basketball remained undefeated at Cole during its last season and went on to win the National Championship.

Future plans
Because of the grand space enclosed by the structure and its location in the middle of campus, it has been the subject of speculation for renewal and reuse. One such idea is to build a station for the future Purple Line of the Maryland Transit Administration . Cole Field House is still used by the university in athletic and non-athletic ways. The soccer field is used as a practice facility by some athletes. The upper level also serves as a makeshift track. When not used for athletics, the building is used for Homecoming events, classes, and holds offices.

Other notable events
  • 1965: DeMatha Catholic High School defeated a Power Memorial Academy team led by Lew Alcindor 46”“43, ending its 71-game winning streak in front of over 14,000.
  • 1966: Texas Western defeated a Kentucky Wildcats team led by Adolph Rupp 72”“65, to win the national championship. It was the first game in which 5 black players started in NCAA Division I. Texas-Western's victory is considered one of the most important games in the history of college sports.
  • 1972: A ping-pong match between the United States and the People's Republic of China is played at Cole, the first sporting event between the two countries.
  • 1972: An exhibition of the Soviet gymnastics team, including gold medalist Olga Korbut, sells out the arena and is televised locally in the Washington, D.C. area.
  • 1973: The NBA's Capital Bullets (now the Washington Wizards) played its November home games at Cole while the team transitioned from Baltimore to Landover. Their new home, Capital Centre, opened on December 2.
  • 1974: Elvis Presley sings at Cole.
  • January 26, 1975: The first televised women's basketball game is played at Cole. Maryland loses to the defending national champions Immaculata 80”“48.
  • 1981: The Grateful Dead played at Cole.
  • 1998: Bob Dylan performed at Cole.
  • 2005: Muse performed at Cole.

University of Maryland, College Park campus


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