Butler’s historic Hinkle Fieldhouse is more than a basketball arena; it’s a basketball sanctuary.
Built in 1927 and only slightly renovated twice it was officially named a national historical land mark in 1987.
The movie Hoosiers that tells the story of the 1954 Milan High School basketball team that made it all the way to the state championship, when Indiana had one class basketball, was shot at Hinkle. Although Indiana’s high school basketball tournament plays the state finals at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, home of the Indiana Pacers, the regional round has since been played at Hinkle and for most that holds a lot more significance than playing at an NBA arena.
But as I was covering Butler Wednesday night there was a saddening truth that was evident. A place as special as Hinkle is growing further and further apart from its tenants, Butler, and it is one of the few places where the slightest renovations or remodeling could completely take away what is so magnificent about the 86 year old facility.
The glass in the windows cannot be replaced because they don’t make the kind of style window or the glass that is currently occupying the window anymore. There are no big screens and the hanging scoreboard is the equivalent to a high school gym scoreboard. The facilities such as the athletic offices and the weight rooms need a serious make over but aside from those needs beyond the basketball court all of those are the product of nostalgia that has been preserved and for the most part should be preserved.
But here is the problem.
The better Butler has become over the past few years has suddenly brought the word “necessity” to the discussion of renovating the fieldhouse. Butler is no longer a pseudo college basketball museum exhibit, Butler is a contender and with that territory the demand to update and stay modern becomes more prevalent. There is currently a website for the movement to keep Hinkle preserved to the historic characteristics that made it a national historic landmark while promoting the need for renovation while maintaining restoration at Butler.
Hinkle needs the big screens for fans, it needs a new hanging scoreboard, and it could use some renovations in the seats and concourse but most of all it absolutely needs to stay historic.