Allen Fieldhouse, which opened March 1, 1955, is named for Forrest C. "Phog" Allen, longtime basketball coach who played for and was trained by James Naismith, the founder of basketball. Naismith was a KU professor of physical education and its first basketball coach. The fieldhouse and its basketball court, now named for Naismith, superseded the facilities at the original Robinson Gymnasium, built in 1907 and razed in the late 1960s, and Hoch Auditorium, where games were played from 1927 to 1955. Like those facilities, the fieldhouse also has been the site of concerts and university functions, as well as men's and women's basketball games.
A statue of Forrest "Phog" Allen stands outside the entrance to the Booth Hall of Athletics at Allen Fieldhouse.
Backstory and Context
Known as one of the most storied venues in collegiate athletics, Allen Fieldhouse has a seating capacity of 16,300 and cost $2.7 million to build in 1955, according to the KU Athletics website. Allen Fieldhouse has been renovated several times since its inception and now contains the Booth Family Hall of Athletics.
Wilt Chamberlain may be the most famous Jayhawk to play in the auditorium. During his time in Lawrence, he helped integrate the city's restaurants and theaters. You can read about this in Aram Goudsouzian's article, "'Can Basketball Survive Chamberlain?': The Kansas Years of Wilt the Stilt" by clicking on the link below.
The venue also pays tribute to Dr. James Naismith, the inventor of basketball and former coach at the University of Kansas. This entry includes an embedded video that contains the only known recording of Naismith's voice. In this clip, recorded for a 1939 radio broadcast and recently discovered by a KU professor, Naismith describes setting up peach baskets to serve as goals for an experimental game of "basket ball" at a YMCA in Massachusetts in 1891.
Connected to Allen Fieldhouse is The Debruce Center, one of three student union facilities at the University of Kansas. Inside the Debruce Center are Naismith's 13 Original Rules of Basket Ball, as it was known at its founding. KU alumnus and donor David Booth purchased the original document at auction before donating them to the university for display. A small exhibit space is housed within The Debruce Center.
Spencer Research Library Digital Exhibit: James Naismith’s Life and Legacy: Celebrating 150 Years http://exhibits.lib.ku.edu/exhibits/show/naismith150 University of Kansas website, http://places.ku.edu/?q=buildings Kansas History: A Journal of the Central Plains Autumn 2005 (Vol. 28, No. 3).