GARY, Ind. - Indiana University's trustees have decided the school should plan on building a new basketball arena in the coming years rather than spending millions of dollars on renovating the 35-year-old Assembly Hall.
While several trustees discussed concerns about raising the money for a new arena, the board approved a resolution Thursday saying the university would go forward with replacing the building "when appropriate.''
University President Adam Herbert and other administrators told the trustees during a meeting at the IU Northwest campus that it did not make sense to do a full renovation of Assembly Hall. Kansas City-based architecture firm HOK Sports estimated a renovation would cost $115 million.
Jim Edson, an architect at HOK Sports, said total cost for a new 18,000-seat arena would currently be from $130 million to $160 million. He said that was based on building the new arena immediately south of Assembly Hall and next to a basketball practice facility the school is preparing to build.
Herbert, who is leaving office this summer, urged the trustees to go on record backing plans for a new arena.
"My assumption is, it will take us a few years to pull together the resources necessary to do this,'' he said. "But I think it can be done within the decade.''
Many Hoosier basketball fans have complained for years about the sight lines at the 17,456 seat Assembly Hall, which was completed in 1970 and was home to IU's national championship teams in 1976, 1981 and 1987. The balconies on both sides are high and have steep stairways, making it difficult for some people to climb.
Purdue University trustees last month approved plans for a $82 million overhaul of the 40-year-old Mackey Arena. That project is to include building practice, sports medicine, conditioning and office facilities around the arena's existing shell.
Indiana Trustee Tom Reilly said he worried talk about a new basketball arena would hurt efforts to raise contributions toward a $55 million athletic facilities project, an upcoming IU Bloomington capital campaign and fundraising for IU-affiliated hospitals in Indianapolis.
The athletic facilities project includes enclosing the north end zone of Memorial Stadium for new football offices and training facilities and building the basketball practice center, baseball and softball fields and an academic center for athletes.
Reilly said he expected inflation and other factors push the cost of a new arena higher.
"This will be a $200 million project before it's done,'' he said.
Trustee Jeff Cohen, however, said Assembly Hall and other IU athletic facilities needed to be improved if Hoosier teams were to remain competitive.
"We're going to have to figure out a way to make this happen,'' he said. "We don't want to be OK at things. We want to be the best.''