Hulman Center – Indiana State Sycamores
Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86
Hulman Center 200 N 8th St. Terre Haute, IN 47809
Year Opened: 1973
The Hulman Center Shines at Indiana State
When you think of Indiana State University, you think of Larry Bird, and rightfully so. He put the small school in Terre Haute, Indiana on the map in 1979 when he led the Sycamores to a 33-1 record and the NCAA Final Four, culminating in the iconic championship game against Michigan State and Magic Johnson. The canvas on which Bird and his teammates performed their magic was the Hulman Center.
The multi-purpose venue opened in 1973 and held 10,200 spectators. The building was designed to attract musical acts, and house commencement ceremonies and served as home to other sports programs for the school. The building remained virtually unchanged in aesthetics until recent renovations greatly improved its exterior and interior appearance. A change that has been met welcomingly by fans and alumni.
The $50 million renovations were completed in 2020 and added a new exterior facade, a glass entrance from the south end, added even/meeting space, a multi-purpose suite, and open views of the seating bowl from the concourse level. The biggest improvement might be the use of glass windows providing natural lighting to the building that changes the experience for fans.
Other improvements include two hanging video boards measuring more than 14 by 24 feet and two hanging boards measuring more than 9 by 16 feet. The $2 million scoreboard was donated by the Hulman-George family. There is also new seating, new banners against the upper walls, and reduced seating capacity,
down from 10,200 to 9,000.
Food & Beverage 3
There are four areas of concession points in the corners of the building offering basic stadium fare at reasonable prices, plus the school's very own cream ale. The food choice includes hot dogs, brats, pretzels, popcorn, ice cream, and Chick-Fil-A sandwiches. Pepsi products are the drink of choice at the arena.
The ISU Athletics Department has partnered with the Terre Haute Brewing Company for the Crossroads Cream Ale which "pays homage to a celebration of Sycamore pride. The beer is directed to fans and alumni and is an easy-drinking ale served by the can, but poured in plastic cups, at home games.
The Hulman Center looks almost brand new, including an artistic design to the outside of the building along with a new glass entrance on the south side. The arena has a much warmer and more welcoming feel than the giant white warehouse-looking structure it once exhibited. However, one must pay homage to the 17-foot statue of Larry Bird outside its entrance.
As mentioned before, the natural lighting adds a new aura to the concourse that now includes artistic designs hanging from the ceiling, tables for fans to enjoy a bite to eat before the game, trophy cases, and a merchandise stand set up at games by local Pacesetter Sports. Fans also have an open view of the seating bowl from the concourse, opening up the two areas of the arena.
The student section is located at the south end of the court. It has been nicknamed “The Forest”, and the future alumni are always on their feet at the start of each contest. The dance team is situated on the end lines and performs during time-outs. Sycamore Sam is the official mascot and can be found entertaining fans on the court.
The views are pleasant throughout the seating bowl as there is truly not a bad seat in the house. The audience's attention to the game is noticeable, along with a winning team, which should create a boost in attendance figures in the seasons to come.
The Hulman Center is within walking distance of many bars and restaurants downtown and on the edge of campus. Downtown has changed a bit, and there are quite a few establishments to visit before or after the game for a bite to eat or drink or two.
The Copper Bar and Terminal Public House are two spots for dinner that offer traditional pub food of appetizers, sandwiches, soups, salads, and pizzas. Both operate in historic buildings that add to the ambiance of the evening.
The Verve and The Ballyhoo are two college hangouts if you are in the mood. While a few blocks away is Moggers and Terre Haute Brewing Company for an older crowd. J. Gumbo’s, Chava’s Mexican Grill, and Scout’s Pizzeria are also within walking distance of the arena.
It is important not to overlook the Candles Holocaust Museum and Education Center. The museum was founded by Holocaust survivor Eva Mozes Kor who has created a visual and detailed story for visitors.
The fans usually do not sell out the Hulman Center, but there are many in the building showing support for the Sycamores. The lower bowl section is the most populated and when you get a chance to talk with many of the fans, they are both knowledgeable and faithful. The diehards can be heard cheering and supporting a basketball program that looks to be on the rise in the Missouri Valley Conference.
The arena is located three miles north of I-70 downtown, but it is rather simple to access the arena. The free street parking fills up quickly and small parking lots are available for a small fee. Once inside the arena, access throughout the arena is simple with two main sections of seating for the game.
Return on Investment 4
Ticket prices for Sycamore games range from $8-25. The majority of the lower bowl is sold out from season ticket holders, and many of the less expensive tickets are located in the upper bowl. A visitor should expect to find a suitable ticket price and will not be disappointed by the view of the court, concession stand prices, and parking fees.
One point for the 17-foot statue of Larry Bird in front of the arena honoring one of the game's greatest players.
The second point is for the recent renovations that have changed the appearance of the building from the inside out. A third point is for the newer banners that are on display that includes a retro-looking 1979 Final Four logo, along with one for the university's only NCAA championship, 1977 Gymnastic champions,
A final point is awarded for Crossroads Cream Ale, produced by the Terre Haute Brewing Company. A popular trend across many college campuses includes portions of proceeds going to the school's athletic program.
I spent many nights at the Hulman Center as a student at the school. The building was always an ideal spot for basketball, but the new improvements have enhanced everything from the exterior to the seating. The Hulman Center now shines in the center of downtown and has been reborn as it nears its 50th anniversary.