The Butler men’s basketball, women’s basketball, and volleyball teams call historic Hinkle Fieldhouse their home on the campus of Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana. The facility has been regarded as one of the nation’s great basketball arenas since it opened in 1928; through more than eight decades of service, it has stood the test of time maintaining splendor, character, and atmosphere.
The facility has virtually remained unchanged since its opening, but there have been many changes to the historic venue. The original seating capacity was 15,000 in 1928, but scaled down to its current 9,100 through renovations in 1989 and 2014.
Another major change took place in 1933 when the basketball court was reconfigured to run east to west instead of north to south to provide better seating views for events. In 1989, $1.5 million in renovations were made to the reception area, team offices, and locker rooms. In 2014, $36 million in renovations included wider concourses, added restrooms, expanded concessions, an elevator for public use and ADA accessibility, and the replacement of 9,700 windowpanes with energy efficient glass and tuck-pointing of 282,000 bricks to the fieldhouse’s exterior.
Originally christened the Butler Fieldhouse, the arena was renamed in 1966 in honor of the school’s legendary coach and athletic director Paul “Tony” Hinkle who served as head coach for football, baseball, and basketball. Upon his retirement in 1970, Hinkle led the Bulldogs to 560 victories and one NCAA National championship in basketball (1924). He was and is the the face of Butler University sports.
Hinkle Fieldhouse was home to the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) basketball tournament from 1928-1971, hosted six U.S. presidents, four professional basketball teams, U.S. Olympic basketball trials, tennis matches, track meets, roller derby, bicycle races, and housed the U.S. military barracks during World War II. The largest crowd (14,500) ever to watch a volleyball match took place at the fieldhouse during the 1987 Pan American Games to see the USA defeat Cuba for the gold medal and the facility was featured in the iconic movie “Hoosiers” as the site of the championship game.
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There is an ample amount of basic, but tasty food available inside Hinkle Fieldhouse. The concession stands are located at the corner of the upper concourse of the facility and offer hot dogs ($4.50), nachos ($4.50), pretzels ($3.50), and freshly popped popcorn ($4.50-$8.50). There is a larger concession stand located on the main concourse outside of the basketball court that includes Chick-fil-A sandwiches ($5). At times the lines may become long, but the orders get expedited quickly and many are within view of the action on the court. Pepsi products are served by the 20 ounce bottle for $4, and water is $3.50 a bottle.
The Bulldogs recent success as a national powerhouse and two Final Four appearances (2010 and 2011) have created a surge in popularity with the school. Along with the move into the Big East, fans are now able to witness high caliber basketball universities of Villanova, St. John's, and Georgetown, along with local rivals Xavier, Marquette, and DePaul. There is not a bad seat in the house. A majority of the better seats are on top of the action that includes a porch on both ends of the playing court creating a perch view over both ends of the court.
There is a lot to take in at a game at the fieldhouse, including a multitude of banners from both the men's and women's programs, hand painted directions to seats and restrooms, beautiful brick interior, ramps, narrow railings, an excellent pep band and perfect acoustics created by the arched interior. They do not build them like this anymore and it is great to see the old lady still smiling proud after 88 years of service.
There is a lot of history crammed into the arena, displayed on the main concourse. Spend some time checking out the interactive exhibit that shows highlights of legendary coach Tony Hinkle, the building of the arena and memorabilia that includes trophies, bronze shoes, and basketballs. You may want to break away from the basketball action and take a walk around to soak up some of the nostalgia. There is definitely a lot here and the arena would be a treat even without an event taking place.
Butler Blue III is the official mascot of the university and he can be seen being walked on a leash around the arena during the game. Hink the Bulldog is the man-made mascot who parades around the court during contests and helps wave flags along with the cheerleaders during time-outs and breaks in the action. Both bulldogs are potty trained and friendly.
It is an old-time atmosphere and a nod to basketball past; an atmosphere that defines the meaning of Indiana basketball. The upper level seats are wooden bleachers, but there is enough room to keep you comfortable during the game. The lower section features theater style seating that creates a little more comfort for the fans. There is not a bad seat in this intimate 9,100-seat facility.
The campus is located within walking distance of Broadripple Village, a nice place to shop and walk around during the day, but a destination for the younger college crowd after dark. Downtown Indy is only six miles south of campus, but the best place to enhance your visit is in SOBRO (South Broadripple).
Twenty Tap offers distinctly different craft beers, along with their own, that are unavailable throughout the city. They offer menu options of vegetarian banh mi sandwiches, fried cheese curds and poutine during the fall and winter months. The beer options also include a $3.50 pint of the day.
Next door is Fat Dan's offering mouthwatering and lip smacking smoked ribs, brisket, pulled pork, chicken wings, juicy burgers, pressed Cubanos, Italian beefs, and house smoked meatloaf and Reuben sandwiches. There is even a draft beer of the day for $3.50.
Across the street is Yats, which offers Cajun and Creole cuisine at affordable prices with an eclectic surrounding.
Further down the road is Mama Carolla's, which offers world-class Italian cuisine in an authentic setting that is a popular destination in the city.
If you are looking for a hang out with pub food and sports, Moe & Johnny's is the traditional Butler hangout, and the Sinking Ship offers some interesting vegan and vegetarian options along with plenty of flat screen TVs for sports.
The closest lodging options are the Quality Inn and Suites, Sleep Inn and Suites, and the Hotel Broad Ripple featuring nine guestrooms along the Monon Trail. Further hotel and motel options exist in the Castleton area, about 5-7 miles northeast of campus.
The fans are rowdy, loud, and boisterous during the games and can be heard blocks away from the building. The program has been extremely successful for the past decade and with two Final Four appearances this decade, it is easy to understand the excitement. These fans are loyal regardless of how the team is performing on the court. Many alumni young and old stay in the city after college and continue to spend their seasons watching basketball at Hinkle Fieldhouse. The fans are respectful to opponents during the game.
There is a small lot adjacent to the arena for season ticket holders and there are lots throughout campus, and a few places for visitors to park. Your best bet is arriving early and finding a spot on the street. There are homeowners who may charge a small fee of $10 to park on their lawn and sometimes the narrow streets can become congested with cars looking for the opportune space. It may also be fun to walk the residential neighborhood streets with both students and alumni on your way to the fieldhouse. Inside the venue, it is very easy to walk around the upper and lower concourses; bathrooms are accessible from the top rows of the upper section and on the main concourse entrance area.
Tickets for games range in price points at $9, $16, $26, $34, and $38. These are extremely reasonable prices for big time college basketball. When you add the cost of parking, food prices, and atmosphere you definitely get a lot more bang for your buck on the campus of Butler University.
The history seeping through the walls of the building is truly a spectacle in itself. The average visitor may want to walk around the concourse to view the accolades, trophy cases, banners, and other memorabilia. You might even want to give yourself a few hours extra just to take it all in before the game.
The end court seating hovers over the floor like a balcony, providing a great view of the action on the court.
Blue III is an actual bulldog who is walked around on a leash throughout the game. He is a friendly canine and can be spotted on the main concourse or even the floor at times.
If you're a sports movie buff, then it is exciting to be in a place where the championship scenes from Hoosiers was filmed.
Many historic facilities have been demolished in the past, and it is nice to know that Hinkle is not and will not be one of them for quite some time. The original project was financed by a corporation of 41 prominent and farsighted Indianapolis businessmen. It is not known what they may have thought of the building still housing athletics almost 90 years later, but all we can do is simply thank them for their efforts and foresight. This is Indiana's basketball cathedral.
When Hinkle Fieldhouse (then known as Butler Fieldhouse) opened in 1928, it was the largest basketball arena ever built. With a capacity of just over 11,000 it seems cozy by today's standards.
It doesn't get much better than basketball in the state of Indiana, and a trip to Hinkle may be the best way to experience that tradition.
In 1928, the Butler Bulldogs defeated Notre Dame 21-13. At first glance, you might think that Butler had a darn good football team that year. However, this instead was the score in the first basketball game played in Hinkle Fieldhouse. Today, Butler’s basketball (and volleyball) teams are still playing at Hinkle. At the time it was built, Hinkle Fieldhouse (then known as Butler Fieldhouse) was the largest basketball arena ever built. Today, with a capacity of just over 11,000 it would be described as “intimate” for many major programs.
The thing is Butler isn’t really a “major” program. Moving for the 2012-2013 season from the Horizon League to the Atlantic 10 was a major step for this “mid-major” basketball program. Recent rumors of a move to a realigned Big East continue to add prestige to the program. However, after appearances in the title game in 2010 and 2011, Butler swiftly became a national power, and the darling of college basketball.
Originally known as Butler Fieldhouse, the facility was renamed in 1966 to honor Paul “Tony” Hinkle, who coached the Butler basketball, football, and baseball teams over a career that spanned from 1926-1970.
A game today at Hinkle Fieldhouse remains as a time machine into an earlier era. Even the modern amenities like the center hung scoreboard and corner scoreboards with individual player information are a bit outdated by today’s standards. But that’s exactly why Butler basketball is such a beautiful thing to see live, and an absolute must pilgrimage for college basketball junkies and arena travelers. Currently, Hinkle Fieldhouse is the 6th oldest college basketball arena still in use (Fordham’s Rose Hill Gym is the oldest).
Basketball in the state of Indiana is always special, but there is no better venue in the Hoosier state than Hinkle Fieldhouse on the campus of Butler University.
Hinkle Fieldhouse would be an impressive facility on any campus across the nation. Nestled into the tight confines of city neighborhoods in Indianapolis, it is even more luminary. The 11,043 seat arena is regarded to many as “Indiana’s Basketball Cathedral” and in 1928, was one of the first major college field houses. There has been a lot that has changed with basketball venues in 85 years of construction, but there have not been too many changes with Hinkle Fieldhouse.
The arena debut in March of 1928 as Butler Fieldhouse and was the largest basketball arena in the country until 1950. It was renamed Hinkle Fieldhouse in 1966 after legendary coach Tony Hinkle who coached basketball, baseball and football between 1926-1970. Its history goes beyond the university basketball program; it has been home to the Indianapolis Jets (BAA) and Olympians (NBA), Indiana Legends (ABA) and was the site for the annual state basketball championships and was featured in the classic movie “Hoosiers” in 1986.
Inside the arena, there is a wealth of information that will both educate and entertain visitors. You will see early designs of the buildings, game day programs, ancient basketballs, and other memorabilia. It is a building that is worth a look regardless if a basketball game is taking place. However, watching a Butler game is definitely worth the price of admission.
Hinkle Fieldhouse is a spectacular place to see a game. I was lucky enough to see Butler-Gonzaga a year ago, and that game was electric. Every game has a great atmosphere and tickets are very reasonable. The food options are limited but that is to be expected. Hinkle is undergoing major renovations that will include a new scoreboard and new seating. Hinkle is a must for anybody!
For me as a Butler alum, Hinkle Fieldhouse is the absolute greatest place on earth. If they sold grave plots next to it, I'd have to buy one for myself. And I wouldn't be alone.
Even when they renovated it, they took great care to preserve as much of the history as possible and keep it as an historic landmark.
This is a "bucket list" kind of place for the sports traveler, and the team puts on quite a show. They can play with and beat ANYONE this year.
The food selections are much better than they were prior to the renovation, but there is still room for improvement.
Parking has always been a challenge, but the new parking garage nearby should help quite a bit. (It's kind of weird as an alum to see that my little college campus has a parking garage now.)
If you go there for a big game on a Saturday afternoon, the fan support is tremendous. It will be packed and LOUD. Acoustically, Hinkle is a big old barn with exposed trusses. You wouldn't want to attend a concert there, but you can really hear the crowd roar for basketball.
Butler is a small school, and even with the reduced capacity, they don't always fill up the place for lesser opponents or weeknight games. Day games are especially fun because you can see the sunlight coming in through the big windows, but night games are great as well.
The Dawg Pound student section fills up the seats behind both baskets now, although you almost never see anyone sitting down. The band does a great job of getting everyone into the action...they play the fight song at every opportunity, and almost everyone knows all the words.
The 2014 renovation included (for the first time ever) a video scoreboard. It's big and HD, but it's also tastefully done. The athletic director said he wanted it to "look like it belongs there," and he did. The video presentations are quite slick, but that's the norm for college and professional sports these days. Good, but nothing special.
Bonus: there is an old press box on the upper level that the press no longer uses. It made more sense when the court originally ran east-west, but now it's behind one of the baskets. So you as a fan can buy a seat in the old press box and pretend you are an old-time radio announcer. It's about as close as Hinkle gets to having luxury suites...thank goodness.
The 2014 renovation thankfully included upgrades to the restrooms because the old ones were original to the building in 1928 and downright Bohemian. The restroom upgrades were desperately needed and much appreciated.
Seating was also improved with the renovation. There is now chairback seating up to the track level, and many of the upper-level bleachers above the indoor track inherited the cushions that had been on some of the mid-level seats. There are still some hard wood bleachers at the very top if your derrier can handle them.
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