Five Secrets of Assembly Hall

Five Secrets of Assembly Hall
Honor the legacy of IU Basketball with five secrets of the place it calls home.

The summer of 2016 brought about a pretty major renovation for the capital of Hoosier Basketball Nation. Assembly Hall has undergone minor updates in the past, but this one was a biggie. In fact, this is the largest renovation since its original construction and opening in 1971.

Regarded as one of the loudest and most intimidating venues in the nation and home to the largest student section, Assembly Hall is truly holy ground for college basketball. Thanks to a gift from alumna Cindy Simon Skjodt (pronounced SCOTT) BA’80, Assembly Hall will preserve its place in history as it transitions to a new era of game-day greatness.

Renovations included a grand entrance, lobby accessibility additions, refurbished seats, updated restrooms and concession stands, as well as several other technology updates — all intended to enhance the Indiana basketball experience.

We want to honor the legacy of IU basketball with five things you may not know about Assembly Hall and the other spots the team has called home:

1. From Cellars and Basements to (the first) Assembly Hall

The "original" Assembly Hall in 1910
The “original” Assembly Hall around 1910. Photo from IU Archives. 

IU Basketball did not always have one of the most renowned venues in college basketball. In fact, before the team’s official creation in 1898, games were played in local barns and the basements of buildings. It was not until the 1900–01 season that official games were played in a gymnasium that was also called Assembly Hall.

For fans who want to make the pilgrimage to the birthplace of Hoosier basketball, the building sat directly east of Owen Hall, where the parking lot behind the IMU currently is located. There is a commemorative stone plaque in the northeast corner of the lot—a true must-see on campus.

2. Clear Vision

When the team moved from the first Assembly Hall to the Seventh Street Field House in 1917, consideration was given to the game-experience of the already loyal fan base. IU was the first university to install glass backboards to ensure that people sitting behind the goals could still see the game.

3. Home-Court Advantage

The Hoosiers take the job of defending their home to heart. They’ve posted home court winning streaks of 50 and 35 games over the years. The largest winning margin in IU history occurred at the game that officially dedicated the newly constructed Assembly Hall on Dec. 18, 1971. The Hoosiers beat Notre Dame by 62 points, 91–29.

4. Moving to the Top

Architectural model of Assembly Hall
An architectural model from 1956. Photo from IU Archives. 

During the original construction of Assembly Hall in the late 1960s, cutouts for an escalator were built in the North Lobby, on both the main and concourse levels, but were never used.

Those existing cutouts were used in the renovation with the addition of escalators in the North Lobby, finally putting into use the plans from more than fifty years ago. The escalators in the South Lobby were installed from scratch. Now, fans can easily move to the top of Assembly Hall—just not as quickly as the Hoosiers will elevate up the rankings.

5. Tale of the Number Ones

The Hoosiers know how to protect their house, but a couple of times that the win wasn’t secured until the very last second, especially against ranked teams. In 2001, from the hands of a three–point buzzer beater by Kirk Haston BS’02, Michigan State became the first No. 1 ranked team to lose at Assembly Hall in 2001.

Almost a decade later (Dec. 10, 2011), with another last second, three–point shot by Christian Watford (the Wat–Shot), IU beat No. 1 Kentucky.

A few weeks later, the Hoosiers also beat No. 2 Ohio State at Assembly Hall. This marked the first time in IU history that the Hoosiers beat both a No. 1 and No. 2 ranked team in the same season.

Written By
Lacy Nowling Whitaker
Lacy, a Bloomington native, earned two degrees from IU Bloomington (BA'08, MA'14) and is a senior content specialist with the IU Alumni Association.