Until the construction of the Field House, the Badger basketball team played in the university’s armory and gymnasium, popularly known as the Old Red Gym, which held only 2,240 spectators. When George Little became the university’s athletic director in 1925, he made the construction of a new field house a priority. The resulting facility, designed by the state architect, has become an important symbol of the university. The sandstone-rubble structure, in a simplified Renaissance Revival style, has a particularly attractive second level with tall arched windows and broad flat pilasters. The wide gable is ornamented with the shield that is the university logo and separated from the rest of the facade by a stringcourse of wave and shield motifs. Bedford limestone and terra-cotta trim provide contrasting texture and color.
After the building’s dedication in December 1930, it hosted basketball, track and field, wrestling, and other athletic events, along with cultural events and the university’s graduation exercises. To accommodate larger crowds, a second balcony was added in 1936, boosting seating capacity from 8,600 to 12,000. In January 1998, Badger basketball moved to the Kohl Center, but the field house continues to host the women’s volleyball and men’s wrestling teams.