Varsity Club

    Media Availability Transcript With Fred Glass Following Assembly Hall Announcement

    Go Hoosiers!
    Go Hoosiers!

    Go Hoosiers!

    Dec. 19, 2013

    BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Indiana University Vice President and Director of Athletics Fred Glass met with the media to discuss the announcement to renovate Assembly Hall thanks to a $40 million donation by Cindy Simon Skjodt.

    Here is a full transcript of the press conference...

    FRED GLASS
    Indiana University Vice President and Director of Athletics

    Q. On the goal of the renovations and what enhancements will be made:
    FRED GLASS: The overall goal is to preserve the best home court advantage in college basketball. So we don't anticipate a change in the bowl itself; in fact the goal is to not have any change in there. We are going to do all the boring stuff that Tom (Morrison) makes me do, like the plumbing, HVAC, electrical and all of that to make sure that the bones and all of that and then we'll do more of the fun stuff. We'll have a grand new entryway and atrium as you come in the south lobby. That's where we'll have our new Hall of Fame portrait gallery.

    We'll have additional and new bathrooms. If anybody ever has to go to the bathroom here, I feel sorry for you because it's not a great environment. We're going to improve those and expand the number of bathrooms.

    We will have new concession stands. We'll do branding all throughout the building with graphics and imagery to celebrate the great history and traditions of IU basketball.

    We'll have a big, gigantic new Jumbotron in the bowl. That will be the most significant change in the bowl, which will be great for all of our attendees, but particularly nice for the folks in the balcony because they'll have a much more accessible video board other than they've had before.

    We'll also have box seat style seating. I'm not sure it will be separated suites, but some sort of premium seating. We're not taking out the bleachers. We like the foldable wooden bleachers, we like how that creates the Indiana high school gym. But we will have some box seat style seating which will be an additional revenue stream for us that we hope to capture for the ongoing maintenance of the building so that we can keep up the bones and the structure of it on a go forward basis.

     

     

    Q. Specifics of renovations to Assembly Hall.
    FRED GLASS: It's critical. I'd like to spend all the money on all the fun stuff. I seriously want this building to be here for another 42 years and stand the test of time for multiple generations of IU fans.

    We can't be a responsible steward of this building without addressing those infrastructure needs, if you will. That will be a major overall component of our spending on the project.

    Q. How will it change the footprint of the building going out to the south entrance?
    FRED GLASS: There will be some extension. It won't be extraordinary. It will go out further but not up to the road or anything like that.

    Q. Why 42 years? Why is that the number you've settled on?
    FRED GLASS: Well, it's been 42 years since we opened it, so it seems symmetrical to think about 42 years more. Maybe it will be 84.

    This isn't sort of a patch job, let's do what's expedient for the next five or ten years. I want this to be the last job I ever have. I'll be here 10 years or so. We can probably get through that timeframe without doing anything much. But I think as a responsible steward, I need to be a part of preserving this incredible venue for another generation for multiple decades. But we're talking about a significant period of time.

    Q. I imagine it will have to happen over several off seasons, different construction projects.
    FRED GLASS: Actually we haven't gotten into super detail on that. One of the great things about this gift is it triggers university protocols so that now that we've raised more than half, in this case all the money we need for Assembly Hall, we can go to the `design phase' and get all of those details. So everything has been very preliminary to this point.

    One of the really, really, really great things about this gift is that, all by itself, it not only more than covers what we need for Assembly Hall but it approaches half of what we need for the entire capital project. Once we get to that point, we can enter into more design approval and financial planning. So Cindy's gift and early money, it's strategically worth more than the $40 million in terms of us being able to move forward with our aggressive timetable.

    Q. How much more prepared is the department to deal with this project since they have dealt with recent major projects?
    FRED GLASS: I think we've learned a lot from the north end zone project, Andy Mohr Field, Bart Kaufman Field. Tom (Morrison) and his group do a fabulous job. We're kind of along for the ride. His group does all the heavy lifting. I can't overstate what a terrific leader Tom is, how he's brought every project since he's been here on time and on budget.

    Our goal would be to do three major projects simultaneously and get them done. I think there's some efficiencies of scale we can realize, although it will complicate it more as well. I'm fairly ambitious and aggressive, so I want to get these kids in the new facilities.

    Q. Talk about three major projects in athletics:
    FRED GLASS: There will be three major athletic projects as part of the Catching Excellence campaign. Assembly Hall will be one of them. We'll be announcing in the coming weeks the balance of those capital projects.

    The campaign is made up of three major capital projects of which Assembly Hall is one, then more money to raise scholarships for student athlete scholarships.

    Q. So there are two more you're not ready to announce yet?
    FRED GLASS: Might be the worst kept secrets in Bloomington. But I'll save for another day announcing what the other two projects are.

    Q. Will the renovations be able to address current challenges like accessibility to disabled and limited views from the upper level?
    FRED GLASS: Our goal is to really preserve the Bowl as it is now, which I view as the best college basketball home court advantage that there is. I get that it's a little idiosyncratic in there. It's pretty steep in the balconies, the steps are sometimes uneven, different depths, all that. We've tried to address some of that with the railings which have been very popular. People said we couldn't do that and we did that. It's been great. We'll address some of the accessibility.

    I didn't mention the ramps in the south lobby will become escalators. That will be popular with a lot of fans. They won't have to schlep all the ramp walks up there.

    In terms of realigning seats or changing the sight lines, that's not only not a goal of our project, our goal is sort of exactly the opposite: to preserve the unique venue the way that it is.

    Q. When did the old mindset of Assembly's future change?
    FRED GLASS: That's a great question. I really think the circumstances may have changed as much or more than the philosophy.

    There had been an initiative to evaluate whether we should scrape Assembly Hall off the face of the earth and build a new multi purpose facility or whether we should renovate. This is really before I got here.

    I think the thinking was that given all the things that were desired at the time, new athletic offices, new practice gyms, a new venue and so forth, that it made the most sense economically to replace as opposed to refurbish.

    When I got here we took sort of a new look at that, looked at the data that had been generated by the design group that had looked at that. We asked our new master planner for the university to take a look at all that. Candidly I had a bias going in towards refurbishment instead of replacement because I think the venue is so cool.

    Finances aside, and the amount of money we would have to raise to build a new stadium aside, I think the goal should be to keep the venue of Assembly Hall the way it is now because it's so unique. It's such a huge home court advantage.

    With the advent of Cook Hall, with new basketball offices, new practice courts, a legacy court, kind of a quasi basketball Hall of Fame, as well as a north end zone which expanded availability for offices, not only for executive administrative offices, but other offices, that relieved a little bit of the pressure on what a new building would have brought, say, 10 years ago. So I think the circumstances have changed. We didn't go from peanut butter to jelly in one day. We sort of over time talked it through and engaged the trustees. I think the case for refurbishment as opposed to replacement just became extremely compelling.

    Q. When did you start talking to people for this fundraising for the Catching Excellence campaign?
    FRED GLASS: We're really in the process of that now. I would say this fall, kind of late October, is when we started reaching out.

    We have some other conversations that are ongoing and hope that Cindy's gift helps encourage other Hoosiers that have significant means to help us with these projects that we think are very important for athletics.

    Q. When did the process begin with her specifically?
    FRED GLASS: When Mel Simon brought her to a basketball game when she was a little girl. I don't mean that as facetious as it sounds.

    These things are about relationships and building over time. Her going to the games with her dad, coming to games as a student, being an alumnus, being involved with the IU Foundation, being more and more philanthropic as she matured into the opportunity to do that, it's all part of an ongoing relationship.

    Today doesn't happen without all those different parts of it because it's not a transaction. We're not going into a bank or up to a cash machine. We're going to a friend, somebody who has built a relationship with IU, we've built a relationship with her. I really think it's the continuity of a long time relationship.

    We did ask Cindy to co chair our campaign, the Catching Excellence campaign, probably around October ish of this year. Those conversations I think led to getting excited about what she might do individually and led us here today.

    Q. Are you getting any calls about renaming the venue?
    FRED GLASS: I understand the feelings people have towards Assembly Hall as a name. I totally get that. I also understand that people that have those feelings, they're earnestly held.

    Our tradition not so long ago of not having any signage in there, no commercial engagement in Assembly Hall kind of feeds into that. That was a great time. Sometimes I wish it was always 1976, because we had an undefeated national championship team. And I was 17 years old. There were only 10 teams in the Big Ten. The basketball schedule was a complete round-robin, where you played everyone at home and on the road. The really cool thing was you started at Minnesota and worked your way to Northwestern and then started at Northwestern and went the exact same way back to Minnesota. I love all of that stuff...or maybe 1981 would be better because we also won a championship and I was a senior at IU and that was good stuff, too. But everything, of course, has changed and evolved. IU has adapted, the Big Ten Conference has adapted. Things are just different.

    I think some of the people who cling most closely to keeping the name Assembly Hall, for example, are also sometimes folks who are most desirous of us competing well and attracting the best student athletes, coaching up the best student athletes with the best coaches and facilities and all that stuff.

    There's a little bit of a disconnect there because to compete in this environment, we need all the resources that we can reasonably muster so that we can have Cook Hall, Wilkinson Performance Center, Shuel Academic Center. That's not just with athletics, that's academics, too, right? There's Kelley School of Business and Jacobs School of Music and Mauer School of Law. So that's a long winded way of saying I get where those folks are coming from, but I think this is a reasonable way to provide for additional resources for the athletic department and it's not going all the way to a commercial angle like being named after a bank or a fast food place, something like that. We haven't gone that far.

    In my view, this strikes the right balance and I think the best part of it is who actually ended up naming Assembly Hall. I meant what I said out there. Cindy Simon, notwithstanding having a bazillion dollars, is like us. She grew up in this state. She went to games as a kid. She went to the games as a student. She has gone to games since then. She is always talking about Indiana basketball. She reads everything about Indiana basketball. She is just like all of us that love Indiana basketball, except she has all of these resources that she is willing to spend for the greater good.

    So I hope, and would expect, that some concerns by some about Assembly Hall being renamed are substantially, if not completely, mitigated by the person that it will be named after. Because she is pretty terrific.

    Q. Will this expand, shrink or keep the same the size of the student section?
    FRED GLASS: We will keep that the same.

    Q. Will the number of overall seats change?
    FRED GLASS: It will hold steady. So we will be able to do all of these improvements without decreasing the overall seating capacity. It might go up a negligible amount with the addition of the `boxed seating' but the goal of this is not to expand seating. But a goal has been to not be reduced.

    Q. Where will the boxed seats come from?
    FRED GLASS: At the top of the bleachers (behind the South basket) there will be kind of a `window on the world' so that when people walk into the new concourse, they will be able to look down and see all the action. On top of that will be the new boxed seating.

    We aren't exactly sure how that will be formed but we expect it to be lavaliered out a little bit and supported by some hospitality on the back end.

    The bleachers will stay, the wood, the retractable bleachers will stay.

    Q. So the area behind the banners is where the changes will be?
    FRED GLASS: Yes. We're going to figure out where the banners will go. But they will be prominently displayed in an appropriate way. Hopefully by the end we'll have to deal with more than five. We'll see.

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