Williams Arena
Williams Arena, located on the Twin Cities main campus of the University of Minnesota is the home of the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers men's and women's basketball teams, and the men's and women's hockey teams until 1992, when the hockey teams received their own buildings ( Mariucci Arena and Ridder Arena). The building is known affectionately as " The Barn," and its student section is known as "The Barnyard". Williams Arena is located on the southwest corner of the intersection of University Avenue and 19th Ave. SE in Minneapolis on the East Bank of the University of Minnesota, in a section of Minneapolis, Minnesota known as Stadium Village, named for the old Memorial Stadium that stood there until its demolition in 1992. The arena is adjacent to TCF Bank Stadium and Mariucci Arena, where the football and hockey teams respectively play.

Initially known as the Minnesota Field House (another building has that name today), Williams Arena was constructed in the 1920s and opened in 1928. The arena was remodeled in the 1950s, and renamed Williams Arena after Dr. Henry L. Williams, the football coach from 1900 to 1921. During a 1950s renovation, it was divided into two separate arenas within one building. The larger one for basketball and the smaller one for hockey were called Williams Arena until March 2, 1985, when the hockey section was renamed Mariucci Arena after John Mariucci. The hockey team moved into a new building across the street from Williams in the early 1990s. This building was also named Mariucci Arena. The old Mariucci Arena within Williams was remodeled into the Sports Pavilion and now houses the volleyball, wrestling and gymnastic teams. The venue hosted the 1951 NCAA Men's Division I championship game and the Frozen Four in 1958 and 1966.

The building has an arched roof, in the same manner as an airplane hangar. The double arch steel beams allows an open space for the bleachers and floor. There are some seats with partially obscured views due to the upper deck extending past the trusses.

Raised floor
Williams Arena features an unusual raised floor design. The court surface is raised above the ground approximately two feet so that players' benches, officials tables, etc., are actually below the court. The same goes for fans with the first row looking at players at about knee-level. Normally, other than the officials and those players actively playing, only head coaches are allowed to be on the court itself. The raised floor is one of only a few remaining examples left and contributes significantly to the historic aura of the 80 year-old arena. This served as the inspiration for the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship to host stadiums for their Final Four as of 2009 to have the floor about three feet off the stadium floor as part of an increased capacity to a minimum of 70,000. The floor in Williams Arena recently underwent a replacement. PCL Construction began work on May 11, 2009, replacing the original playing surface from 1928 with a new floor along with new basketball goals. This was the first major upgrade to the facility since a renovation occurred in the early 1990's. Memorial Gymnasium at Vanderbilt University and Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis are two other existing arenas with a raised floor. Robertson Memorial Field House at Bradley University, since demolished, also used a raised floor.

Seating capacity

From 1950 until the opening of Marriott Center at Brigham Young University in 1971, it had the largest capacity of any collegiate basketball arena in the country. Hinkle Fieldhouse at Butler University also was constructed in 1928, and held the honor of being the highest capacity arena until the remodeling of Williams Arena in 1950.

Before Williams Arena
When the Gophers basketball team first organized, they played games in the on campus YMCA. In 1896, the team moved into the campus Armory, a large building with gymnasium space for the team to use, even if basketball was not its primary purpose. :6 The Gophers remained in the Armory for almost thirty years. Halfway through the 1924-25 season, coach Harold Taylor moved the team from the University Armory to the Kenwood Armory in downtown Minneapolis. :50 This significantly increased the attendance: capacity at the University Armory was 2,000, but it was 6,500 at Kenwood. The team only played at Kenwood for a few seasons, however, as the University of Minnesota Field House (later known as Williams Arena) opened partway through the 1927-1928 season. The team moved in on January 31, 1928. :50

Seating capacities 1928”“1950 14,100 1950”“1971 18,025 1971”“1987 17,500 1987”“1993 16,434 1993”“1997 14,321 1997”“present 14,625


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