Volleyball

Robertson Memorial Field House
Release: Thursday 06/22/2005 
by Bradley University
Courtesy: -
 

Few, if any, collegiate arenas carry the tradition Robertson Memorial Field House does.

Over the years, the story of Bradley University basketball - both men's and women's - has been constructed in what was two World War II airplane hangars until BU hung a pair of baskets in 1949. More recently, a second style of net has also adorned this historic floor, as the facility is also home to BU Volleyball.

"That was probably the original homecourt advantage," former Bradley great Chet Walker was once quoted as saying.

Legendary BU coach Chuck Orsborn, who had the best winning percentage in the Field House of any Bradley coach (123-12, .911), said, "All I know is that people said this place helped us win. Visitors always called it a snake pit."

Says volleyball head coach Scott Luster, "The Field House is a great place to play. It has character, with a tremendous atmosphere."

Former women's basketball head coach Lisa Boyer added: "I couldn't believe it when I first saw it. I didn't know what to think of it. I found out, though, that to coach or to play in here is an experience few can imagine. The Field House has a mystique about it."

Winning is something that has always seemed to come Bradley's way in Robertson. The men had just one losing season in the building, while compiling a 400-100 record before leaving for Carver Arena in the Peoria Civic Center in 1982. In 1993, the Bradley men returned to the Field House for the first regular season game in more than a decade, defeating Illinois Wesleyan, 81-63.

And while the Bradley women hoopsters and netters can't boast the same winning percentage as their men counterparts, these two Braves' programs have also enjoyed success in this structure that was built for $400,000 in 1949. The Field House was named after A.J. Robertson, who was a coach and athletic director at BU for 28 years.

The Bradley women's best year in Robertson came during the 1981-82 season when they put together as 11-2 home mark en route to a 19-win season. Volleyball's 9-2 home slate in 1999 is their top season in history.

Regardless of who plays in Robertson, it is always a memorable thrill. Other than four fortunate Class AA high school teams who qualify for the IHSA sectional tournament, the traditional intracity Mid-State Six rivalry games, and a yearly men's exhibition game, just the two Bradley women's programs and their opponents have the opportunity to play on the famed raised floor which is three feet high and built on a concrete base.

A venture onto the raised floor is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many. Former NBA superstar Oscar Robertson, who led the University of Cincinnati to two NCAA titles, never won a game in Robertson; former Oregon State coach Ralph Miller, five-time national Coach of the Year, never won a game here in 13 tries.

Perhaps Walker, who averaged 24.4 points at Bradley from 1959 to 1962 before going on to an illustrious NBA career, sums it up best: "It was a thrill for me to play in the Chicago Stadium. Same with the old Madison Square Garden. Those places, like the Field House, have a nostalgia about them. I don't think the new ones capture the intimacy, the charm."

 

Field House Renovations

Bradley is committed to providing the finest facilities possible to benefit its student-athletes.

The most recent upgrade to Bradley’s student-athlete facilities began in 2004 when the inside of Robertson Memorial Field House was reconfigured to accommodate a strength training facility, a satellite athletic training room, a study/media center, a student-athlete lounge and new women’s basketball offices.  The featured area of the project is the new weight room, which is available only to Bradley student-athletes and has tripled the amount of space previously available in the old weight room.

Monitored by strength and conditioning coach Ronnie Wright, the new weight room is equipped with the latest in strength and cardiovascular training equipment, as well as television monitors and a stereo system.

In addition to the expanded weight room, a satelite training room which includes a physician examination room and whirlpool, was completed the summer of 2004. 

The weight room and training room are located along the south end of the Field House and required the removal of the upper half of the stands on the south side of the court.  Robertson Memorial Field House now holds a capacity of 5,000 fans for volleyball and women’s basketball.

With the new weight run in place, the old weight room was remodeled and now houses a study center for the men’s and women’s basketball teams, as well as an adjacent lounge (The Marcus Pollard Room). The renovations have made Robertson Field House the true home of Bradley Basketball as the facility allows the student-athletes from both the men’s and women’s programs to take care of all their athletic and academic needs under one roof.

Another key enhancement accomplished this summer was the resurfacing of the playing surface - complete with the design.  It follows the installation of a new scoreboard in 2002.

The women’s basketball offices were also relocated to the Field House foyer and a permanent concession stand was added to the foyer during the summer construction.

In addition to the projects completed this summer, the men’s and women’s basketball locker room received face-lifts prior to the 2003-04 season. 

New oak lockers were installed, along with new carpeting and video equipment.  The lockers feature backlit photos of the current players.

 

Directions to Robertson Memorial Field House: From I-74 (East or West), depart off on the University Street (Exit 91 south) and follow University to Main Strett.  At Main, take a right, the Field House is on the left-hand side at the corner of Glenwood and Main, on the Bradley University campus.

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