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Feldman, Jim / The buildings of the University of Wisconsin

Field house,   pp. 213-216

Page 213

Fig. 1. The Field
House from the
southwest, c. 1932.
[Series 9/11, jf-53]
The field house was the project of athletic director George Little. It was begun in
1929, first used in 1930 and has been used for basketball and large community
gatherings such as convocations and concerts, ever since. The second level seating
was added in 1936 and a major remodelling took place in 1974. Because of limited
size and fire danger, a new field house (the Kohl Center) was begun in 1996.
en George Little took the job as athletic director at the University of Wisconsin in 1925,
he also became the football coach. Little had been an assistant of Michigan's famous
VY     Fielding Yost. Yost gave Little a glowing recommendation to J. A. "Sunny" Pyre, the
ex-football star and faculty chairman of the athletic council.
Little acted as coach for two years, before hiring coach Glenn Thistlethwaite away from
Northwestern, and turning strictly to administrative work. A hardworking and persuasive man, Little
had a vision for the athletic facilities at the University. By 1927 he had developed a three million-
dollar master plan for athletic facilities, including replacements for the armory, the gymnasium annex,
and the boathouse.1 His support for this enormous project was considerable. The legislature of 1927
approved an appropriation of $350,000 to begin the project. Because of economic hardship, this bill
was pocket vetoed by Governor Zimmerman. Rather than pursue this avenue of funding, Little turned
to the regents. His plans had now shrunk considerably. He now asked only for $350,000 for a field
house without facilities for non-income-producing sports.
Football was well provided for at the Camp Randall stadium; the real problem was with
basketball. Wisconsin played basketball in the old red gym. The gym was built in 1892, and for
basketball games held 2240 spectators. It was called "the little cigar box gym" by newspapermen, and
complaints were heard about scalping of the scarce tickets. In the fall of 1927, in an interview with a

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