Home of the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers Mens and Womens basketball team, Williams Arena is affectionately referred to as “The Barn.”
Construction of the building began in 1927 and was completed in 1928, when it was dedicated as the University of Minnesota Field House. It cost 650,000 dollars and initially had a seating capacity of 14,100 with bleacher and standing room expansion to 16,000. The building features a barrel-vaulted roof, maximizing the number of seats in the arena. The original building housed basketball and winter football practice facilities.
The building was remodeled in 1950 and renamed in honor of Dr. Henry L. Williams, U of M football coach from 1900 to 1921; it was divided into a hockey arena on one end and a basketball arena with a seating capacity of 18,025 on the other. From 1950 until 1971, it had the largest capacity of any collegiate basketball arena in the country. The capacity has been reduced to 14,625 in recent years due to renovation, fire-code restrictions and handicapped-seating construction. Following the 1991-92 season, the renovation of Williams Arena began as part of a 41 million dollar project for on-campus sports facilities. The first phase was completed in time for the 1992-93 season opener. The Golden Gophers' locker room, training room and weight facilities, not to mention spacious offices and team meeting rooms are now state-of-the-art. The locker room was named in honor of former Golden Gopher coach Ozzie Cowles through the more than $100,000 in gifts from many of his former players.
The east end addition is highlighted
by the new Williams Arena Club on the third floor.
The Club overlooks the floor and can hold parties
of up to 200 fans, adding another touch of class
to an already classy arena. The second phase of
the renovation project was completed during the
summer of 1993. It included the installation of
theater-style seats, a new state-of-the-art, computerized
scoreboard system, the widening of concourse areas
and the addition of both concession areas and
In the summer of 1997, 21 barn lofts
above the second deck were built. The lofts offer
a spectacular birds-eye view of the court with
luxury amenities. The $2.3 million project added
304 seats to the capacity raising it to 14,625.
“The Barn” is ranked
in the top five of College Basketball Arenas in
the country by Inside Sports writers and it is
one of just six 1920's era collegiate basketball
arenas still in use. The site of the 1951 NCAA
Finals, "The Barn" can be a frightening
venue for opponents. The raised floor, one of
only a handful in the country, and the deafening
roar of 14,000-plus fans unquestionably has something
to do with it.
A long and illustrious list of college
basketball’s greatest players have run the
Williams Arena hardwood through the years, and
many memorable games have been contested within
its hallowed walls. The Gopher Mens Basketball
team has a winning percentage record in “The
Barn” which makes this a hot ticket on the
University campus. The renovation project will
keep the historic arena among the finest in college
basketball and enable that mystique to live on
for many years to come. Williams Arena is truly
what college basketball is all about.