For detailed information on Allen Fieldhouse, go to the KU Athletics web site at: http://kuathletics.collegesports.com/facilities/kan-allen-fieldhouse.html
ALLEN FIELDHOUSE "The Phog"
I’ve been going to basketball games throughout America for over 50 years, and have never found a better place to enjoy basketball than Allen Fieldhouse. I’m biased of course, but unless you’ve ever been inside ‘The Phog’ during a Jayhawk basketball game, you cannot realize the electric feeling generated.
Named in honor of Dr. Forrest C. ‘Phog’ Allen, the Kansas Jayhawks’ head coach for 39 years, Allen Fieldhouse is widely recognized as one of the best places in America to watch a college basketball game.
“The best place in America to watch college basketball.” –Mark Whicker, Orange County Register sportswriter.
“When I walked in there every night for 15 years, I got chills just walking in that tunnel.” - Roy Williams, KU Coach 1989-2003
“Rival coaches consider visit to Allen Fieldhouse not unlike a visit to the hangman.” – David Halberstam, Sportswriter
“It’s one of the great college basketball venues in America.” –Dick Vitale, ESPN announcer
“I can’t say I’ve ever been in a better arena.” – Jay Bilas, ESPN announcer
“The best place to watch a college basketball game.” Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy.
No arena in the country is more steeped in tradition than Kansas's 54-year-old Allen Fieldhouse. It is located in the southern sector of the main campus, on Naismith Drive (ya gotta love that). The outside of the Fieldhouse is 344 feet by 254 feet, rising three stories above the ground, with sidewalls 60 feet high and a roof peak at 85 feet.
Planning & Construction
Phog Allen began talking publicly about building a fieldhouse for basketball as early as 1927, but material shortages caused by the Great Depression and World War II put the project on the back burner for several years. Thus, the basketball team played at Hoch Auditorium from the 1927 season to the end of the 1955 season. Hoch had been designed primarily for use as an auditorium and was far from ideal for the playing of the game, even though KU had many successes there.
In 1947, a bill was introduced in the Kansas House of Representatives to appropriate funds for a new sports building at KU, but was defeated. Another push was made in 1949 which was successful and led to the assignment of the State Architect to oversee the preparation of plans and drawings. Nonetheless, another two years passed before sufficient funding could be identified in the state’s budget to move ahead.
As part of the campaign to gather funding for the fieldhouse, the building was promoted as a benefit for the physical education programs for the growing number of students at KU, as well as to serve as a place for major academic events, such as commencement and convocation, but also as a facility that could be used as an ROTC drill hall and an armory “in the event of a national emergency, as was the case during World War II.”
The Kansas state legislature appropriated $750,000 in 1949 for its construction, and additional funds were authorized in 1951, allowing for the first construction bid to be let that October. Ground was broken in 1951 by Bennett Construction, of Topeka, which had just completed building Ahearn Field House at Kansas State University.
Initial approval for the massive amount of steel needed (2,700 tons) was gained in November 1950, but did not result in timely delivery of the material. After 900 concrete pilings had been poured in March 1952, the project was suspended for lack of structural steel. By late 1953, the steel had still not arrived. An appeal was made to the Federal Security Agency, emphasizing the planned military uses of the building, and approval was finally gained. The steel began to arrive early in 1954.
As completion of the building approached, the decision about its name became an important matter. The names of both Dr. James Naismith and Phog Allen were both considered. While it was against the Kansas Board of Regents' policy to name any building for a living person, popular support, including a 924-10 (Allen over Naismith) poll taken among students by the University Daily Kansan, was clear. The Fieldhouse was the house that Phog built.
The Fieldhouse was dedicated on March 1, 1955, as the Jayhawks defeated Kansas State, 77-66, before an overflow crowd of 17,228.
Half-time ceremonies included a pageant with a cast of almost 300 people, including basketball players and trackmen practicing, graduates in caps and gowns, and ROTC students performing marching drills.
As part of the pageant, a narrator interviewed “Dr. Naismith,” who dramatically recounted the story of basketball. This began with a reenactment of Naismith’s experience in Springfield, Massachusetts, in the 1890s, creating a game that could be played indoors during the winter. As the story progressed from Massachusetts to Kansas, Dr. Naismith met and befriended the young Forrest C. Allen, in 1905. The story shifted to focus on Allen as he built his reputation as the “father of basketball coaching,” and culminated with recognition of KU’s 1952 National Basketball Championship and KU’s part in winning the Olympic gold medal for the United States later that same year.
Among the guests on hand were:
• The Allens' sons - attorney Milton Allen and Dr. Robert Allen, and daughters Mrs. Jane Mons, Mrs. Mary Hamilton and Mrs. Eleanor Glenn.
• Bob Kennedy, president of the All-Student Council.
• KU athletic director A.C. "Dutch" Lonborg.
• James McCain, president of Kansas State University.
• Larry "Moon" Mullins, KSU athletic director.
• Fred "Tex" Winter, KSU men's basketball coach.
• E. C. Quigley, former KU athletic director.
• Charles Marshall, Fieldhouse architect.
• Charles Bennett, general project contractor.
• John Brown, building supervisor.
Chancellor Franklin D. Murphy was the first to address the audience, saying:
"Tonight we have paid tribute to the game of basketball. Kansas University has
been the pivotal point of the game for the entire world." Then, Kansas Governor
Fred Hall officially presented the Fieldhouse to KU. Publisher Oscar Stauffer,
representing the Kansas Board of Regents said: "By unanimous vote, the regents
have named this Fieldhouse in honor of a great Kansan, an outstanding coach and
a fine gentleman.”
Murphy drew a rousing ovation when he declared: "For just about every special occasion at the University, there has to be a queen, and tonight is no exception. Never has there been a more lovely and attractive regent to grace the campus than tonight's queen, Mrs. Forrest C. Allen." Then, Coach Allen was introduced by the chancellor as "a man who not only has built great teams but sound men, as evidenced by the former basketball players assembled on the court tonight." More than 100 of Coach Allen's former players were on hand.
Noted for his memorable quotes and a tendency to speak at length on even ordinary occasions, Coach Allen, then 69 and near retirement, was uncharacteristically brief for this singular honor. He first stressed he wanted to pay tribute to James Naismith for inventing the game of basketball and imparting so much knowledge and inspiration to him during their years together on Mount Oread. Finally, Coach Allen said: "I humbly accept this Fieldhouse as a tribute to all the players past, present and future at the University." Again, the crowd roared, and continued to express hearty approval when Kansas City alumni leader Scott Ashton presented Coach Allen with keys to a new Cadillac.
The historic halftime ceremony ended with the band playing "Auld Lang Syne" as Coach Allen went to the dressing room to rejoin his team that was being coached on opening night, at his request, by assistant Dick Harp. Coach Allen explained he wanted the players to win for KU and for themselves, not for him.
The outcome of the opening night game was not assured. KU had lost the three most recent games that season, including the last game played in Hoch Auditorium, against Nebraska, on Feb. 19, 1955.
But Kansas did hold on to defeat favored Kansas State, 77-67, even though the Wildcats narrowed the gap to three points on three occasions in the final 10 minutes. "There was no way we were going to let K-State beat us on this night," said sophomore Gene Elstun, who led the Jayhawks with 21 points. "Imagine being remembered as the KU team that lost to K-State the night the Fieldhouse was dedicated. We could never live with that."
The very first crowd of 17,228 is still the largest in Fieldhouse history for a basketball game, and always will be unless the fire marshal disappears or another 1,000 seats are installed. There was no TV coverage of note for the dedication game.
It’s interesting to note that, in 1956, a season ticket cost $16, with free parking thrown in.
Capacity & Renovations
The Fieldhouse was originally built with a capacity of 17,000, but was reduced to 15,200 during Ted Owens’ tenure, then raised to 15,800 in the 1986 off-season. Since 1993 its official capacity has been 16,300 – now the second largest basketball arena in the Big 12 conference, as Texas University now has the biggest arena in the Big 12 with a capacity of 16,755.
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.
Originally, the Phog was used as a multi-purpose facility, serving as an indoor practice facility for the basketball, softball and football teams, and the track teams ran there during the indoor season.
A renovation project during the summer of 1974 covered the Phog's original dirt surface completely. A synthetic basketball floor was installed to replace the original portable raised floor. Five years later, another portable wood floor replaced the synthetic one.
In 1984, Anschutz Sports Pavilion was completed, making Allen Fieldhouse the home for only the KU men's and women's basketball teams.
In October of 1998, the Horejsi Family Athletic Center was constructed just to the west of Allen Fieldhouse. This 16,500 square foot building is the home for KU volleyball and a practice facility for both basketball teams. A $3.5 million renovation prior to the 1998-99 season paved the way for new and larger restrooms and concession stands, an elevator and larger, more accessible entryways. In 2001-02, improved handicapped seating was installed.
Prior to the 2003-04 season, the floor was completely re-finished, including replacing artwork of the State of Kansas at midcourt with a giant Jayhawk. Renovations completed in 2005 included 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. Prior to the 2005-06 season, interior renovations included a new hardwood court, new windows, and a multi-million dollar video board and sound system, new lighting, bleacher paint, and a museum of KU athletics with gift/fan shop were added. After 2006, new banners for the retired jerseys and conference and national championships were installed. A $3.5 million recently completed renovation paved the way for new and larger restrooms and concession stands, an elevator and larger and more accessible entryways.
Home Court Advantage
The Jayhawks have always played well in Allen. In the 55
seasons through 2005-06, Kansas has compiled a 580-104 record, an 85% winning
Since the 1964-65 season, more than five million people have attended Kansas games at Allen Fieldhouse.
On Nov. 14, 1997, during the first game
of the season against Santa Clara, the floor in Allen Fieldhouse was named the
James Naismith Court. A banner commemorating 100 years of Kansas basketball was
also unfurled on the South wall in the Fieldhouse. One month later, the Phog
Allen Statue outside the East entrance of the Fieldhouse was dedicated before a
victory over Middle Tennessee State.
Allen Fieldhouse has served as the host site for 37 NCAA tournament games. Today, the Phog hosts approximately 30 home basketball games (men's and women's combined) each year. The facility has also been used for stage shows, major addresses and for commencement ceremonies when the weather is inclement.
Kansas won 62 consecutive games at the Fieldhouse between January 30, 1994 and November 21, 1998. This mark exceeded the previous school record of 55 games, which lasted from February 22, 1984 through January 30, 1988. However, the 55-game streak remains a conference record for the old Big Eight, while the 62-game streak spanned both the Big Eight and Big 12 conferences.
While the opposing team is being introduced, it is tradition for the members of the student section to take out a copy of the student run newspaper, The University Daily Kansan, and pretend 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.
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, and Nick Collison. 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 51 as of 2008) 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 and national
championships in 1922, 1923 (Helms Foundation championships), 1952, 1988, and
High in the rafters of Phog Allen fieldhouse hangs The Banner. It warns: "Pay heed all who enter: Beware of The Phog!" True Kansas Basketball fans know that the spirit of Phog Allen lives in the Fieldhouse and aides the crimson and blue faithful.
· A crowd of around 14,000 showed up Nov. 19, 1955, to watch KU’s freshmen sting the varsity, 81-71, behind Wilt Chamberlain’s 42 points.
· Wilt Chamberlain scored 52 points and grabbed 31 rebounds in his college debut, an 87-69 victory over Northwestern on Dec. 3, 1956.
· Wilt Chamberlain collected 46 points in a 102-46 massacre of Nebraska on Feb. 8, 1958. At the time, the 56-point margin was the largest in Fieldhouse history, and 102 points set a school single-game record.
· Four-time Olympic champion Al Oerter was among the KU competitors Feb. 3, 1956, in the first indoor track meet in school history. Kansas won the dual with Oklahoma, 56-48, in front of 2,000 fans.
· Forty-two years ago, Jim Ryun set a world record in the 880 in Allen a time of 1:48.3 in a dual meet against Oklahoma State.
While I was in college (undergraduate at Washburn and graduate at KU – the ‘60s):
· During a game with Kansas State on Feb. 20, 1965, two cloth 6x12 banners saying “Go Cats, Kill Snob Hill Again” unfurled on the scoreboard with eight minutes left in the first half. A wire stretching to the south end zone enabled visiting KSU fans to trip the banners, awing and amusing the crowd. It roused the Jayhawks who cruised to a 88-66 victory.
· Jo Jo White scored 30 points in his last KU game, a mid-semester end 80-70 victory over Colorado on Feb. 1, 1969. White received the game ball after coach Ted Owens’ 100th career victory.
· KU downed Oklahoma State, 64-48, Feb. 3, 1969, for the 1,000th victory in school history. Coach Ted Owens had torn the seat of his trousers in the second half and had to wear a towel around his waist in a postgame ceremony.
After I moved to Des Moines in 1970:
· In his final game at Allen Fieldhouse, Bud Stallworth scored 50 points in a 93-80 victory over Missouri on Feb. 26, 1972. Stallworth’s explosion was witnessed by KU’s 1952 title team in town for a 20th reunion. His mom was in the stands for the first time to see her son play at KU.
While my daughters were attending KU (1984-90):
· About 6,000 fans showed up for the inaugural Late Night extravaganza Oct. 14, 1985. I’ve been to almost every Late Night since.
· Danny Manning tallied 27 points in leading KU to a 100-66 blasting of Missouri on Feb. 11, 1986. It’s KU’s biggest victory ever over the Tigers in the fieldhouse.
· A group of KU students unveiled a banner made from a shower curtain that read, “Pay heed all who enter: Beware of the Phog,” game against Duke, February 22, 1988.
· KU thumped Oklahoma State, 75-57, in the final home game for seniors Danny Manning, Chris Piper and Archie Marshall on March 5, 1988. OSU coach Leonard Hamilton agreed to allow Marshall, on crutches because of a season-ending knee injury, to limp onto the floor and take an uncontested three-pointer with 1:33 remaining.
· KU registered an astonishing record-breaking 150-95 romp over Kentucky on Dec. 9, 1989. Terry Brown finished with 31 points while nailing seven of 10 three-point shots. It was KU’s 350th win in Allen Fieldhouse.
· Terry Brown drilled a school-record 11 three-pointers en route to a career-high 42 points in a 105-94 victory over North Carolina State on Jan. 5, 1991.
· On November 6, 1991, The KU Athletic Department retired and displayed the jerseys of: Paul Endacott, Charles T. Black, Charles B. Black, Clyde Lovellette, B. H. Born, Wilt Chamberlain, Lynette Woodard and Danny Manning.
· After trailing defending-champion UCLA by 15 points at halftime, KU rallied to win by 15 (85-70) Dec. 1, 1995. No KU team has overcome a larger halftime deficit. This was, I believe, the loudest crowd ever. I thought the Fieldhouse was going to crumble.
· Wilt Chamberlain returned Jan. 17, 1998, as part of KU’s 100th anniversary of basketball. Wearing his old letter jacket, Chamberlain charmed the fans with an emotional speech and stayed two hours after the game to sign autographs. By the way, KU whipped K-State 69-62.
· KU dumped Missouri, 80-70, to wrap up the 100-year anniversary weekend celebration Feb. 8, 1998. At halftime, hundreds of KU players and coaches walked onto the court for introductions. I got autographs from Clyde Lovellette and B. H. Born.
· Nick Collison scored 24 points and collected 23 rebounds before fouling out in a 90-87 victory over No. 3 Texas Jan. 27, 2003, prompting TV analyst Dick Vitale to give Collison a standing ovation from press row. At halftime, Roy Williams gave retired Missouri coach Norm Stewart a rocking chair, in honor of the familiar chant “Sit down, Norm”.
· Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich combined for 43 points March 1, 2003, in their last fieldhouse game — an 89-61 victory over Oklahoma State. Cowboy head coach Eddie Sutton left his bench and wnet to the KU bench to shake the hands of Collison and Hinrich. It also was Roy Williams’ final game in Allen. A month later, he left for North Carolina.
· Texas’ Kevin Durant stunned a fieldhouse crowd by scoring 25 points in the first half. However, the Jayhawks, who trailed by 16 points, rallied for a 90-86 victory on March 3, 2007. Durant scored just seven points the final half as KU wrapped up the Big 12 championship.
Sources (Books and Articles):
Allen waving his hat triumphantly in front of
the nearly completed fieldhouse, 1955.
Governor Frank Carlson signing the bill to appropriate state funding for the fieldhouse, April 5, 1949, in Topeka.