Fort Wayne News-Sentinel.com
As sunlight bursts through the massive windows at Hinkle Fieldhouse and blankets the wooden court from the east, it almost seems as if those rays are a sign from a higher power that this is a place of, and for, reverence. For surely, if God were to play basketball – and who says he doesn’t? – he would want to do so in the most storied of all Indiana gymnasiums.
“It’s a historical landmark,” Butler University sophomore forward Khyle Marshall said. “The people on this campus, the city, everybody loves this building.”
The former Butler Fieldhouse was renamed in honor of Butler’s legendary basketball, football and baseball coach and athletic director, Paul D. “Tony” Hinkle, in 1966. It has been the Bulldogs’ home since its construction in 1928.
At the time it was regarded as one of the most famous and largest sporting venues in the country. Today it remains one of the most beloved, especially to Indiana basketball fans.
“I think it’s interesting to see how much everybody loves this place,” Marshall said.
The facility gained more notoriety in the mid-1980s with the release of the blockbuster sports film “Hoosiers.” In 1989, the university spent millions renovating the facility after it had fallen into disrepair and made it the beautiful facility it is today.
“It’s the definition of a Hoosier basketball gymnasium,” Marshall said.
Hinkle Fieldhouse has not only hosted thousands of Butler games, but also was the location of the most historic upset in state athletic history: Milan High School over Muncie Central in the 1954 IHSAA state championship.
The building is constructed with an arched ceiling, which sends the cheers reverberating throughout the gymnasium.
Though millions of dollars brought the facility up to par, it still holds an older charm with its block walls, wooden benches and “old gym” aroma.
Many Butler players also believe the raised court holds special spots where leaping ability is enhanced.
As Butler has evolved over the past decade into the pre-eminent college basketball program in Indiana, many people across the nation have learned of the beauty and unique qualities that this Hoosier State shrine holds.
“The history is something I’ve noticed,” Marshall said. “And it’s something I’ve definitely enjoyed.”