INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis basketball program will have a new home beginning in fall 2014.
The IUPUI Athletics Department and Indiana State Fair Commission have entered a partnership, allowing the Jaguars to host all home basketball games at the Fairgrounds Coliseum, beginning with the 2014-15 season. The Fairgrounds Coliseum complex is undergoing an extensive, 22-month, $63 million renovation.
The initial agreement is a five-year deal.
“This is a great fit for the IUPUI basketball program and the Indiana State Fairgrounds,” Indiana State Fair Commission Chairman Andre Lacy said. “The Coliseum has a great basketball tradition, and hosting a successful NCAA Division I program will only add to that. We look forward to seeing the Jaguars raise championship banners here in the years ahead as the new era of the Coliseum begins.”
“The Coliseum will showcase Jaguars basketball and allow the community to see our terrific student-athletes playing in an outstanding facility,” IUPUI Chancellor Charles R. Bantz said. “What an opportunity to see NCAA Division I basketball!”
Upon completion, the Coliseum is expected to seat 6,841 guests for basketball and will include fully renovated locker rooms, a suspended state-of-the-art double ribbon video board and hospitality options throughout fully updated concourses.
“Once the new Coliseum opens in 2014, people are going to fall in love with it … again,” State Fairgrounds Executive Director Cindy Hoye said. “It will still have its historic feel, but it will also have the modern amenities needed for today’s sports and entertainment events. As someone who grew up watching the Pacers play here, I get excited just thinking about IUPUI starting a new tradition of basketball memories at the State Fairgrounds.”
Originally opened in 1939 as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration, the Coliseum’s basketball history dates back to 1942 when the Indiana All-Stars defeated the Kentucky All-Stars 41-40 in the annual high school all-star game series. The Indiana Pacers called the Coliseum home from 1967-74 and garnered three ABA titles during that era.
IUPUI previously called the Coliseum home intermittently between 1975 and 1979, under the direction of former head coach Kirby Overman. The then-Metros went 6-1 at the Coliseum in 1977-78, led by 6-foot-3 guard Julius Norman’s more than 16 points per game scoring average.
The new partnership is an end result of mutual interest, expressed by both Hoye and IUPUI Director of Athletics Michael Moore.
“Last summer I contacted Cindy right around state fair time and asked if she was interested in meeting to discuss our potential partnership. I knew that she and her staff were extremely busy and really expected to hear back after the fair had ended,” Moore said. “She called me right back and said, ‘Let’s meet now.’ That enthusiasm has carried itself throughout the process of arriving at an agreement.”
IUPUI will be a primary tenant within the facility, hosting all men’s and selected women’s games at the Coliseum beginning in 2014. In addition, the court and some permanent signage will be outfitted with IUPUI and Summit League logos throughout the facility. IUPUI will also have a team store inside the Coliseum, providing another revenue stream for both sides.
IUPUI has played at its 1,215-seat on-campus gymnasium, The Jungle, since 1981, while also having played more than a dozen home games at Bankers Life Fieldhouse since 2004. Before the move to Division I, IUPUI also played home games at Chatard High School, Harry Wood Continuing Education Center, the Naval Armory and Market Square Arena.