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  • Marc Viquez

Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall – Indiana Hoosiers


Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00

Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall 1001 E 17th St. Bloomington, IN 47408

Indiana Hoosiers website

Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall website


Year Opened: 1971

Capacity: 17,222

 

The Home of IU Hoops Gets Even Better

On October 14, 2016, the Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall hosted its first game after 18 months of extensive renovations to one of the college’s most iconic venues. The generous $40 million donation from Sydney Simon Skjodt improved the game experience for fans, students, and student-athletes, but preserve the tradition of the arena.

When fans entered the building they noticed wider concourses and walkways, escalators providing access to the revamped concourses with more restrooms and concession stands, along with tables to add mustard to your hot dog or pretzel. Seatbacks and chairs were replaced and are now all red and white and a new vibrant scoreboard hung from the center of the court.

Assembly Hall has been the home to Indiana University basketball since 1971 and has hosted more than 12 million fans during its history. The majority of its 17,222 seats are on either side of the court, creating one of the greatest home-court advantages in college basketball. The seating was designed as two audiences facing one another and to accommodate non-basketball events at the arena, making it one of the instantly recognizable sporting venues in the country.


The facility has a modern, aesthetically pleasing design from its exterior, one that promotes progress and blends in well with the IU campus scenery. The opening of the venue coincided with the debut of head coach Bobby Knight who would lead the Hoosiers to three NCAA championships (1976, 1981, and 1987) during his 29-year seasons in Bloomington, perhaps forever linking the two iconic institutions forever.


Food & Beverage 4

The concession area has improved greatly since the renovations offering LED menu screens and very affordable prices. The concession windows now have 6 stands instead of the previous 4 before renovations.

The price of nachos, French fries, Hoosier dog, pretzels, and 32-ounce Coca-Cola products is $4. Papa John’s Pizza weighs in at $7, Polish sausages are $5, footlong hot dogs are $6, and boneless chicken wings are $6. There also appear to be daily specials that featured a giant bucket of popcorn for just $5 during our visit to the arena. The normal price for a smaller size is regularly sells for $3.


There is also plenty of room to put down your food to add toppings to your dogs, nachos, wings, or fries before heading to your seat. There is no beer served at the arena.


Atmosphere 5

Assembly Hall is quite an experience, highlighted by the recent renovations. The crown jewel is the south entrance where visitors are greeted by bronze statues of former IU greats from Steve Alford, Bill Garrett, Isiah Thomas, Everett Dean, and members of the 1976 Undefeated NCAA championship team.

Interactive screens allow fans to learn about players and teams from various decades and displays hang that tell a story from the origin of the Hoosier's candy-striped pants to Martha the Mop Lady who starts the night with her rendition of “Indiana, Our Indiana” that brings the fans and cheerleaders to their feet.


There are more Kodak moments with the original scoreboard wedged into the wall up above the escalators and its original baskets. The biggest piece of art might be Assembly Hall Floor which was used from 1976-1995. It is now displayed as a giant piece of art in a gallery that is the centerpiece of the recent renovations.


The seating area of the gym has been left unchanged in appearance, but there are noticeable additions with a new scoreboard and seatbacks. The two rows of seats create a theater-like atmosphere that seems to rise to the tippy-top of the building.


The five championship banners hang on one side of the court, while various Big Ten banners adorn the opposite side. Other traditions include “The Greatest Time Out in College Basketball” which occurs during the under-eight timeout in the second half when the spirit squad races out of every corner waving flags to the tune of the William Tell Overture.



Neighborhood 4

Numerous choices for eating, drinking, and shopping nearby are within a couple of miles. Mother Bear’s is probably the number one place for pizza in town. The pies are baked in a deep dish allowing the cheese to caramelize around the edges. The place always seems to be packed and parking is limited to the restaurant. A few of my IU friends suggest BuffaLouie’s for its wings, amazing sauces, and vibe.


Lennie’s is another fine choice, with a lot more parking, that features sandwiches, pizza, stromboli, and beer brewed by the Bloomington Brewing Company. The heart of Bloomington is Kirkwood Ave, featuring two local institutions – Nick’s and Kilroy’s. The square features various shops, bars, and restaurants and borders the entrance of many of the picturesque grounds of the Indiana campus.

A little north of town is Oliver Winery; the beautiful gardens, water fountains, and picnic areas around the lake offer a romantic spot for couples or a great place to enjoy wine with friends. Another colorful and touristy area is Nashville, Indiana, located in nearby Brown County offering some of the best biking/hiking trails in the country and an eclectic downtown jam-packed with shops, restaurants, and Quaff On! Brewing Company.


Fans 5

Hoosier fans are loud, proud, and faithful, and are everywhere across the state and beyond. They make it one of the loudest and most intimidating venues in college basketball. Just engage in a conversation on the team’s chances during the Big Ten tournament and you will have many claiming that the team is on its way to winning a sixth national championship.


The men’s basketball record at Assembly Hall is an incredible 558-115 (.829) home record as of this writing. The student section is the largest in the nation providing seating for 7,080 people. Regardless of the opponent, they are playing, the Hoosier supporters are 100% behind their team, making it a tough place for any opponent to enter throughout the season.

Access 4

Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall is located in the sports complex with Memorial Stadium, Bart Kaufman Field, and Andy Mohr Field. The price for parking is $10 and is probably the best spot for the first-time visitor, but there are various smaller lots and other spots to park for free that require a short walk.


The renovations have stripped the building of its early 1970s appearance of ramps and narrow concourses, the main lobby ceilings have been raised and are more open to the public. Escalators now take fans to upper levels of seating and balcony sections.

Return on Investment 4

There are two price points for tickets for Indiana games: $27 for the upper section and $52 for the lower section. It is a very reasonable price for college hoops action, especially for a venue with as much character and history as Assembly Hall. When you tie in the price of concession items and parking, it is easily an affordable night watching elite Big Ten basketball.

Extras 5

One point for the bronze statues, interactive video board, and center court wall frame that exists in the south lobby, the place has changed for the better but has not altered the tradition of the inside of the seating area.

An extra point for the championship banners that hang at both ends of the court, the style of the arena creates an ideal space to don the banners, instead of the usual hanging from the rafters that are common in most indoor facilities.

A third point for the tradition of Indiana University basketball; it is rich and something to savor while you attend a game at Assembly Hall.

A fourth point to the traditions that include Martha the Mop Lady, candy-striped pants, and “The Greatest Time-Out in College Basketball”. You can learn all about them in the south lobby.

One final point for the fervor is shown by the largest student section in college basketball. They truly help to make this an elite experience and pizazz to the night’s player introductions.


Final Thoughts

One of the college sports iconic venues has only gotten better. It will continue to provide Hoosier basketball fans everything it has had in the past-a dominating place for opponents to play in, school traditions, the frenzied student section, and championship-caliber basketball. An instantly recognizable facility at any level of sporting competition in the world.

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