The Butler men's basketball, women's basketball and volleyball teams plays their home matches in historic Hinkle Fieldhouse, which is located on Butler's campus, northeast of the residence halls and main portion of campus. Less than a mile's walk from anywhere on campus, Hinkle is accessible to all students and plays host to exciting athletic competition each year.
Hinkle Fieldhouse has reigned as one of the nation's great sports arenas for more than six decades. The classic facility was constructed in 1928 and was the nation's largest basketball arena at that time. The legendary building has stood the test of time, maintaining the splendor, character and atmosphere that made it one of the nation's most famous basketball arenas nearly a century ago.
The Fieldhouse, which remained virtually unchanged for more than 60 years, received a major facelift during the summer of 1989. Among the changes to the historical building were new chair back seats in the lower arena, new doors and windows on the south side of the exterior, new offices for basketball, volleyball and sports information and marketing, a training room and locker rooms off the main arena, a VIP lounge, a repaved parking lot, outside landscaping, extensive interior painting and a new public address system. The renovation was geared toward upgrading the facility, while retaining the history and nostalgia of the home of "Hoosier Hysteria."
The original construction of Butler Fieldhouse was part of a massive project designed to give Butler one of the finest athletic plants in the nation. The project was financed by a corporation of 41 prominent and farsighted Indianapolis businessmen, who viewed the facility as a gift not only to Butler to the city of Indianapolis. Completion of the Fieldhouse was guaranteed when Butler signed a lease agreement with the Indiana High School Athletic Association allowing the high school state tournament to be played in the massive new facility. Butler's association with the IHSAA continued from 1928 to 1971, with a brief interruption during the war years, 1943-45.
Butler played its first basketball game in the Fieldhouse on March 7, 1928, defeating Notre Dame 21-13 in overtime. Since the Fieldhouse was not entirely completed at that time, the building dedication was held off until Dec. 21, 1928. The name of the facility was changed in 1966 from Butler Fieldhouse to Hinkle Fieldhouse in honor of Butler's legendary coach and athletic director, Paul D. "Tony" Hinkle.
The Fieldhouse has served as host to six U.S. presidents (Herbert Hoover, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush), the Billy Graham Crusade, the Sonja Henie Ice Show, four professional basketball teams, the U.S. Olympic basketball trials, the first USSR-USA basketball game, all-star basketball games for the NBA, ABA and the East-West College All-Stars, the nationally prominent Butler Relays in track, tennis matches of both Bill Tilden and Jack Kramer, the 1982 World Goal Ball Championships, a three-ring circus, several equestrian events, the Roller Derby, a six-day bicycle race, a John Mellencamp concert and the popular movie "Hoosiers." The building also housed the United States Air Force and Navy as a barracks during World War II.
In 1983, Hinkle Fieldhouse was named to the National Register of Historic Places. In Februrary 1987, it was tabbed a National Historic Landmark.
During the summer of 1987, Hinkle Fieldhouse again received national attention, this time as the site for the volleyball competition at the tenth Pan American Games. The largest crowd ever to see a volleyball match in the United States (14,500) gathered to see the United States defeat Cuba in the men's gold medal match.
In recent years, Hinkle served as the election headquarters for Indiana governor Mitch Daniels and the night before Indianapolis hosted Super Bowl XLVI the Fieldhouse hosted a celebrity basketball game.
When the Fieldhouse was originally constructed, it was the largest basketball arena in the United States, and it retained that distinction for more than 20 years. Recent renovation has reduced the seating capacity from 15,000 to around 10,000, but the aura that made Hinkle Fieldhouse one of the nation's first great basketball arenas remains today.