Far be it for me to criticize someone for digging deep for offseason content, but I have to take issue with Terry Hutchens's latest post concerning what to do with Assembly Hall. You can click through for the details, but in essence, Hutchens presents four possibilities: 1) a major renovation of Assembly Hall; 2) build an arena somewhere else on campus; 3) blow it up and rebuild on the same footprint; or 4) do nothing. The problem is that Hutchens left out option five.Well, actually, Hutchens alluded to it when discussing option 2:
The other problem now, though, is the fact that you just built Cook Hall, the new Basketball Developmental Center, and it’s attached to Assembly Hall. So I guess you could build a new arena on the other side of Cook Hall or take out the parking lot near 17th and Fee Lane, something like that, but I think IU officials will always want it to be pretty close to where it is now if not exactly where it is now.
While nothing is set in stone until the bulldozers move in, IU's 2010 master plan speaks to this directly. Here's a link to the athletics portion. As you can see, the long term goal is to build a replacement for Assembly Hall essentially due south of where Assembly Hall now stands. The placement of Cook Hall is not a "problem." Cook Hall was built where it was built precisely because of the intent to build a new basketball arena to the south of Assembly Hall. The campus master plan did not create this notion out of thin air, either. Following a presentation by HOK architects concerning the costs and benefits of a major renovation, the IU trustees, in 2007, determined that a replacement arena made more sense than a major renovation.
In short, we know what is going to happen to Assembly Hall, and we know where the replacement arena is going to be. The only thing we don't know is "when." When these discussions began five years ago, it was clear what the Hall's strengths and weaknesses were. The strengths were and are tradition, atmosphere, and at least passable amenities. The disadvantages were the poor design of the seating bowl for watching basketball and the poor facilities for the teams that use the arena. The last of those disadvantages has been remedied by the construction of Cook Hall, but the age and generally poor sightlines will eventually lead to its demise. This was all hashed out years ago. As I said, I understand the desire to generate conversation during the offseason, but this issue has essentially been decided, except for the when. IU is fortunate that the athletic buildings are surrounded by ample open space, and the only negative implications to constructing the new arena to the south would be a slight but not intractable parking crunch for a couple of years.