Chip: Time for Williams Arena teardown? Not if we get more Gophers games like Tuesday's.

Otis

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My barn history:

First game:
1976 Indiana Hoosiers vs Thompson led Gophers. Sold out. 18 or 17,000 fans, Bobby Knight in his sweater. It doesn’t get any better.

College years:
Fire Marshal figures out the ceiling is made of Silver painted wood and not metal. Reduction in seats for fire code. Walked to Iowa iron Five game through God awful blizzard. Pretty much only students in the stands, but man was that place loud as we took down the 10th ranked Hawkeyes and Sir Jam a lot!

Haven’t been back since college, but would love to see a ranked Gopher team on the raised floor again.
 

Gopher_In_NYC

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Best part of Chip's article was the part about the ticket prices. Any upper deck ticket should be $25 max and behind the baskets should be $10-$15. Get people in the arena. Build new generations of fans.

I nostalgically think of Voshon Leonard, Townsend Orr, Arriel McDonald, etc like they are folk legends because I distinctly remember going to the games and watching with my family. We wouldn't go to a lot of games, maybe one non-conference game and one Big Ten game a year, but they are memories I hold and often think of when watching games on Big Ten Network with my son. For me to bring my family to a game it would be close to $500 if I bought through the U.
Your pleas have been heard.

What game are you going to?
 

Gopher_In_NYC

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My barn history:

First game:
1976 Indiana Hoosiers vs Thompson led Gophers. Sold out. 18 or 17,000 fans, Bobby Knight in his sweater. It doesn’t get any better.

College years:
Fire Marshal figures out the ceiling is made of Silver painted wood and not metal. Reduction in seats for fire code. Walked to Iowa iron Five game through God awful blizzard. Pretty much only students in the stands, but man was that place loud as we took down the 10th ranked Hawkeyes and Sir Jam a lot!

Haven’t been back since college, but would love to see a ranked Gopher team on the raised floor again.
Inexpensive seats available
 

USAF

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I, personally, like old things. I live in a 450 year old apartment (it's very modern on the inside). Everything new has a pre-fab quality to it that decays quicker and this conversation in 30 years won't be pretty.
Your apartment was built in the 1570s?
 




PMWinSTP

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Most recruits, much like Blizzard, have all their taste in their mouths. But they’re young. They simply need to be educated and guided to appreciate the classic architectures offered them. Yes, Cameron and the Palestra are dumps; classic, historical dumps that are ideal venues for enjoying a basketball game.
I think if you polled current and former players, a high percentage of them would rate the Barn as highly regarded for the game atmosphere and its uniqueness. Now that they have a modern day high-end practice facility, even more so.

Also think most opposing teams don't like playing in the Barn. It was rocking Tuesday night. Get it closer to a sell out, and that place is very special...you can feel the energy of the players.
 


PMWinSTP

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I’m pretty sure it’s not shoehorning. Modern amenities likely would be an add on in other areas. I’m not an architect but I’m told that the cost of new square footage in a building is about 3x that of renovated space.
There can be expansion on the south side, and there has got to be a way to incorporate use of the Pavillion for amenities and added consessions. Definitely a way to configure those into a renovation, even if it means losing maybe 1000-2000 seats.
 



Holy Man

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There can be expansion on the south side, and there has got to be a way to incorporate use of the Pavillion for amenities and added consessions. Definitely a way to configure those into a renovation, even if it means losing maybe 1000-2000 seats.
I think there is room on both the university avenue side and the oak street side as well. 12000 seats would be enough.
 

CPTMidnight

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the Barn's chief value is nostalgia.

as I have said before, you can remodel the interior to give it an "old-fashioned" feel. look at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls. that is a smaller arena but the same thing could be done with more seats. I'll even endorse keeping the raised floor.

but for everything else, give me modern lobby and concourse space, concessions, bathrooms, etc - and easier access to the upper deck with no restricted-view seats or weird angles to the court.

just don't ask me where to find the money.
Just about everything about sports and being a sports fan is a "matter of the heart" so it makes sense that nostalgia is its chief value. It is unique. It is uniquely intertwined with Gopher Basketball. We should be careful just assuming that faking a new/old arena with decent bathrooms is going to be better.
 

FinnGopher

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Chip is very good. I LOVE The Barn.

But I do think a newer arena could also really rock with a winning team.
I would like to see a similar configuration of the upper and lower decks without the poles needed to keep the upper deck from collapsing. In that way you get unobstructed sight lines, but you keep the noise and you keep the upper deck hovering over the floor to really make the venue more intimate.
Today's "NBA" environments are vacuous and the nose bleed section is a country mile from the floor.
So, keep the intimacy and feeling of almost falling onto the floor in the upper deck while adding new lockers, bigger hallways, better concessions, outside the actual court. If you build a cavernous building, you destroy the home court advantage.
 

GoodasGold

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This is a nonsense discussion. Barn is fine as is, would be better with some basic renovation, we lose no recruits due to the barn, we would sell no additional tickets in a new venue, we would win no addl games in a new arena, and most people like the barn.

Wanna help the program - redirect the 100M that it would cost for a new arena into an annuity that yields 5% and take the 5M per year and hand it to pay players (Via NIL) an average of $384k per year for each of the 13 Scholarship players. Voila - instant top 5 program.
CPT Veritas rides again! 👍
 



Otis

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Hmm, there is no room on the University Ave side. I mean it’s the Homecoming Parade route for Christ’s sake!
 


PMWinSTP

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I think there is room on both the university avenue side and the oak street side as well. 12000 seats would be enough.
University Ave is the south side but totally get what you are saying. There are plenty of creative options while still keeping the structure intact. At the Colorado game a few years ago and the fieldhouse there was connected to the stadium. Used that space for a lot of the concessions and a place to gather.
 
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WorkingMyTailOff

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Most recruits, much like Blizzard, have all their taste in their mouths. But they’re young. They simply need to be educated and guided to appreciate the classic architectures offered them. Yes, Cameron and the Palestra are dumps; classic, historical dumps that are ideal venues for enjoying a basketball game.
Exactly! Flip the narrative via TikTok to it being a treasure that is haunted in a good way (sorry mostly kidding). You need to sell things to these youngsters.
To me the place is unique and when it has energy it is incredible.
 
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WorkingMyTailOff

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the handful of sport viewing regrets I have are not making it to Tiger Stadium or Montreal or Toronto’s old hockey palaces.
Our University has great facilities, arenas, and stadiums. Winning more and supporting more are the next critical steps.
 

FinnGopher

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The Barn should be protected at all costs, this state needs to maintain and update it's one historical stadium still in active existence (the Armory still stands as an A+ music venue).
I agree. I worked in the old Ford Building at 117 University when I was younger. I rode the same freight elevator that moved those old model Ts. Just a couple days ago, I hear the place is razed to the ground. D@mn, that place had character. I worked in the basement for the State of MN print shop. Was there during the super storm of '87 when the pipes were backing up and we're working to cover all the paper from the leaks happening from the rain. I used to run the tunnels from the building to State Office building and Capital. Now, you got nothing. That's a damn tragedy. The Barn is a registered trademark of a building. Renovate the interior all you need, but keep the soul alive cause that soul has a story that needs to keep being told to my grandchildren and their children.
 

disco

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Best part of Chip's article was the part about the ticket prices. Any upper deck ticket should be $25 max and behind the baskets should be $10-$15. Get people in the arena. Build new generations of fans.

I nostalgically think of Voshon Leonard, Townsend Orr, Arriel McDonald, etc like they are folk legends because I distinctly remember going to the games and watching with my family. We wouldn't go to a lot of games, maybe one non-conference game and one Big Ten game a year, but they are memories I hold and often think of when watching games on Big Ten Network with my son. For me to bring my family to a game it would be close to $500 if I bought through the U.
Well, there's your problem.
 

BroncoRedux

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When the Eiffel Tower was built it was panned, unmercifully, for being SO ugly. The common dig was you had lunch or dinner at the Eiffel Tower so you wouldn't have to look at it. I suspect there are more than a few in Minnesota who would have been on the side of tearing it down. History provides us the perspective that it wouldn't have been a good idea.

I think the same holds true for Williams Arena. Yes, its not bright and shinny, its inconvenient, etc. But it is uniquely a Minnesota landmark and in my opinion it should be preserved. I believe preserving architecture is a recognition that the past holds some value in how we live today.

Go Gophers.
 

JZABR

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Per Chip:

The dusty and cramped old Barn felt alive for a night, awoken from its slumber. Not fully awake. Too many seats remain unoccupied to understand completely why longtime Williams Arena lovers cling to it with such reverence and romanticism.

Tuesday night provided a glimpse of it though, a snapshot of what it used to be and still can be — and, boy, was it fun.

Williams Arena became a home-court advantage again, boisterous and disruptive in a way that played a factor in the Gophers' 59-56 win over Michigan State.


Big games have been too infrequent for the men's program for too many seasons, but this one qualified as a big game and Ben Johnson's team and the Barn rose to the occasion.

The student section was packed from front to back, aided by a jersey giveaway, which was a smart promotion because those young folks had a blast and made a difference with their voices.


Go Gophers!!
I've actually never been to a Gopher game before and i want to make my way down there. (I'm from St. Cloud) the MSU game was awesome
 

WilliamsArenaGuy

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University Ave is the south side but totally get what you are saying. There are plenty of creative options while still keeping the structure intact. At the Colorado game a few years ago and the fieldhouse there was connected to the stadium. Used that space for a lot of the concessions and a place to gather.
I was in Colorado too. That type of setup is exactly what I was thinking they could do at least on the university side.
 

MplsGopher

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The brand identity of Minnesota Basketball is intertwined with Williams Arena. That is hard for an accountant or a consultant to quantify.

If Minnesota wants to change that identity, they better have a plan beside "moderately nice new building." We already know that a new facility is not a panacea.

I, personally, like old things. I live in a 450 year old apartment (it's very modern on the inside). Everything new has a pre-fab quality to it that decays quicker and this conversation in 30 years won't be pretty.
Again, nothing you’re saying here is “wrong”.

If a complete tear down and new build was $200M, including interior that “replicates” Williams from the court view, and renovating the existing costs $150M and only gets you half of the “on paper improvements” …. I just think it’s going to be tough for leadership to go with the latter.

You’re saying “justify to me why going the former is worth losing what we’d lose by not doing the latter.” And I’m saying that U leadership would say “… I’m just not sure what it is we’re losing. Can you quantify that for me somehow?”
 

Go4POV

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As a long time season ticket holder, I have sat in various sections and attended games with low attendance and sellouts (yes, a long time ago). The people who sit around us are also season ticket holders, of course. Rarely does anyone purchase anything from concessions, so I don’t think upgrading concessions matters much. Nor do I hear griping about the bathrooms. It would be nice to have somewhat more comfortable and larger seating space.

Those who remember some games being played at the Target Center (I think they were ACC/Big Ten Challenge games) will remember that the atmosphere was much different and, IMO, muted. I am opposed to a tear down and new arena. I think a modest makeover is all that is needed.
 

CentralGopher

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Best part of Chip's article was the part about the ticket prices. Any upper deck ticket should be $25 max and behind the baskets should be $10-$15. Get people in the arena. Build new generations of fans.

I nostalgically think of Voshon Leonard, Townsend Orr, Arriel McDonald, etc like they are folk legends because I distinctly remember going to the games and watching with my family. We wouldn't go to a lot of games, maybe one non-conference game and one Big Ten game a year, but they are memories I hold and often think of when watching games on Big Ten Network with my son. For me to bring my family to a game it would be close to $500 if I bought through the U.
Exactly how I became a fan. Went with my hs basketball team to a game against Purdue in the early 90’s (91 or 92 I believe) and sat in the upper deck behind a hoop in a semi obstructed seat and loved every second of it.
 

Gopher_In_NYC

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As a long time season ticket holder, I have sat in various sections and attended games with low attendance and sellouts (yes, a long time ago). The people who sit around us are also season ticket holders, of course. Rarely does anyone purchase anything from concessions, so I don’t think upgrading concessions matters much. Nor do I hear griping about the bathrooms. It would be nice to have somewhat more comfortable and larger seating space.

Those who remember some games being played at the Target Center (I think they were ACC/Big Ten Challenge games) will remember that the atmosphere was much different and, IMO, muted. I am opposed to a tear down and new arena. I think a modest makeover is all that is needed.
Nice post.

New doesn’t equal better. Make the nessecary improvements, while keeping a unique building, which pays homage to the past.
 

MplsGopher

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You don’t see it at all as a problem that “no one buys concessions”??

Also, can supply create demand?

Just playing devil’s advocate here.
 

MNfootballfan

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Well, there's your problem.
For the record, I can't remember the last ticket, besides my football season tickets, that I have bought through the U. My final straw was the Missouri/Minnesota football game in Orlando. I bought them online for about 1/5 the cost.
 

PMWinSTP

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As a long time season ticket holder, I have sat in various sections and attended games with low attendance and sellouts (yes, a long time ago). The people who sit around us are also season ticket holders, of course. Rarely does anyone purchase anything from concessions, so I don’t think upgrading concessions matters much. Nor do I hear griping about the bathrooms. It would be nice to have somewhat more comfortable and larger seating space.

Those who remember some games being played at the Target Center (I think they were ACC/Big Ten Challenge games) will remember that the atmosphere was much different and, IMO, muted. I am opposed to a tear down and new arena. I think a modest makeover is all that is needed.
I guess I would ask why no one around you buys concessions? There are plenty of folks at concessions for the games I have been at this year, actually busy with line dividers at the more popular stands.
 




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