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Williams Arena Turns 90 #TBT

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Throwing back to a piece I did back in 2015 called ‘Williams Arena By The Numbers’

Interior shot of Williams Arena, unknown date.

February 4, 1928 was the first basketball game played at Williams Arena. To see more about the game go to the Old And Gold site for their entry on it. Also shoutout to the Old and Gold squad, they post stuff.

For the 90th anniversary the U of M made up this great video.

The rest of this post are some brief bits and bobs about the history of the building. Enjoy!

When it was being built the city of Minneapolis’ chief inspector had this to say about The Barn’s construction,

New engineering principles were applied in putting up the field house. It is an experiment with a new type of building. There was no similar structure to copy from... [when the steel frame was going up] it was more like an insane asylum than anything else.

Construction of the Barn, circa 1928

Throughout my research of William Arena, I pulled together some numbers, and here I am presenting them here with little or no context or commentary:

  • Two men suffered skull fractures when they fell working in the rafters (I don’t think their injuries killed them).
  • It took 2.5 million bricks, 6,200,000 pounds of steel, and $650,000 to construct.
  • At 126,000 square feet and (originally) 13,000 seats it was the largest basketball arena in the country.
  • There were 8,600 windows at each end to let in extra light, and 34 fans to heat The Barn.
  • Speaking of lighting, the electric lights that were installed in 1928 used 150,000 watts of power, at the time it cost $20 an hour just to keep them on. This was a big deal, every article raves about the Barn’s size but also about how great it’s lighting is.