Never Tear Down The Barn… Ever.
It's time for the U to solicit ideas and gauge support for a new Barn. Build a modern 15,000 basketball only arena with inspiration from the old building, including the raised floor.— Steve Thomson (@SteveThomsonMN) February 21, 2020
It's time for wide concourses, modern restrooms, proper ADA access, etc.
So, I’ve been seeing some things regarding Williams Arena (The Barn) lately that make me upset. People like Steve, want to tear it down.
This is a terrible idea.
The Barn opened in 1928 as the “University of Minnesota Fieldhouse”, and cost just over $600K to build. At it’s highest, Williams Arena once held a max-capacity of 18,025. From 1950-1971, that was the highest capacity of any college basketball arena in the country.
Williams Arena has been renovated multiple times. The largest overhauls took place in 1950, when it first got the name, “Williams Arena”, but it also underwent major changes before the 1992-93 season, got a new scoreboard before 2013-14 and, most recently, completely revamped the raised floor and wood it’s made out of.
Building and renovating Williams Arena over the last 94 years has cost the University pennies, to everything else’s dollar.
|1927||The “U of M Fieldhouse” is Erected||$650,000|
|1949||Full Reno – Renamed “Williams Arena”||$1,032,867|
|1992||Full Reno – Locker Rooms, “Williams Arena Club”||$15,000,000|
|1997||21 Luxury “Barn Lofts” Added||$2,300,000|
|2018||New Floor + Seats||$2,300,000|
|——||Building and Renovating TCF Bank Stadium||$300,000,000+|
Information for table above via GopherSports.com, TheDailyGopher.com, GopherHole.com, and Wikipedia.com
Williams Arena is all that we have left of our deep sports (especially basketball and hockey) history, that still holds a physical presence on the University of Minnesota campus.
Not once have I had a conversation with anyone of any age, where they have complained about our beautiful and historic basketball arena. You hear a few remarks about wait times in bathrooms and guys who are afraid to piss in front of other guys, but that’s all part of the nuance.
When you talk about Gopher basketball, you talk about Williams Arena, especially basketball fans of different schools. Sure, you could try to build a replica and give it a raised floor, but it wouldn’t be the same.
Whenever I step into The Barn, I feel like I can hear the crazed crowds of the last 100 years, as I walk to my seat. The building has such a unique feel, that you can feel the ghosts of its past, as you soak in games of its present.
You would not be able to replicate that with a new building.
The University of Minnesota has scraped the change out of its couch cushions for Barn renovations throughout its entire life, spending less than $25M in major changes over it’s time here on campus. We spent $15M back in 1992 and the old gal must have felt showered in riches.
Meanwhile across the street, we paid $288M just to erect TCF Bank Stadium, not to mention the 10’s of millions that’s been spent on it since.
I fully understand the need for a modernized building for our basketball team to play in. Hell, it might need what most would consider “a gutting”… but so what. Do whatever you need to do and finally invest some decent money into the project.
You can’t throw pennies at the upkeep of a building for nearly 100 years, and expect it to be in pristine condition, when that time comes. I hate hearing about how small and cramped the place is… IT HAS TWO FUCKING ARENAS BUILT INTO ONE BUILDING!
There is so much space in that building that we haven’t known what to do with an entire side of it, throughout the time of its existence. The options on renovations are literally endless and everything we want can be had in the same historic building we already have.
That way, our kids’ kids can talk about going to games in the 150-year-old barn… still the best college basketball venue in the country.
Williams Arena, aka “The Barn,” in 1951. pic.twitter.com/0o5w7etIKk— Peter Robert Casey (@prcdotwork) January 2, 2017
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan