On March 1, 1955 Allen Fieldhouse was officially dedicated, and the best building on planet Earth was open for business. The first game was a stirring 10 point win over Kansas State, and it also set the official attendance record of 17,228, a record which stands to this day and probably will until the end of time because official capacity is only 16,300.
Since the Fieldhouse was opened, the Jayhawks have an overall winning percentage of .864 in the building, and Bill Self has a record of 144-7 in the building (and, as I noted on twitter, has won twice as many conference championships in a row as he has home losses in conference play).
ESPN the Magazine has called Allen Fieldhouse the loudest arena in the country, and in the last Border War, the crowd set a record for loudest decible recording at a college basketball game.
Personally, the first time I saw Allen Fieldhouse was when I was a Junior in high school and was touring colleges. There were renovations going on at the time, and so I didn't even get to see the floor in the building, but it was still the most beautiful thing I had seen.
The thing that strikes me most about the Fieldhouse is that even though it is an old building, it still gives off the impression that it is brand new when you walk in. That they were able to renovate it to make it seem modern yet keep the historic feel inside the building is incredible. Speaking of renovations, if you're lucky enough to go to Allen Fieldhouse, a required stop is in the Booth Family Hall of Athletics, where you'll get to see tributes to not only KU's basketball history but history in all sports (my personal favorite is Clifton Cushman, North Dakota native and silver medalist in the 400m hurdles at the 1960 Olympics).
Watching a game at Allen Fieldhouse is a great experience for many reasons. First, the sight lines in the building are incredible. I have seen a game from the front row and I have seen a game from the upper deck (for lack of a better term) and in each spot I had a great view of all the action, and didn't feel like I was too far away. They certainly don't make arenas like that anymore.
But honestly the best reason to go to Allen Fieldhouse is for the traditions. Signing the alma mater before the game, waving the wheat, holding up the UDK insert during opponent introductions, throwing the newspaper confetti during KU's introductions, and of course the world famous rock chalk chant.
It's a building named after one of the best college basketball coaches ever, with a court named after the game's inventor, and one that manages to look forward while still honoring the past. Bill Self said that if a donor offered them $20 million with the request that it be put to a new arena he would turn it down, and it's impossible to blame him for that.
It's one of the few places where the building is the star of the show. On Saturday Allen Fieldhouse will host yet another Senior Day with yet another group who has won a Big 12 championship. During their Senior Day speeches I expect each Senior to thank the crowd and the atmosphere. It's all possible because of the building. Happy birthday, old gal. Here's to many more.