That old barn Hec Ed now one classy place

  • Larry Henry / Sports Columnist
  • Monday, November 20, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports

SEATTLE — You won’t recognize your grandfather’s gym.

The old barn has been brought into the 21st Century. It’s snazzy, it’s intimate, it’s ideal for college basketball.

It’s something you might not have thought you’d ever see in your lifetime. And if it weren’t for Barbara Hedges, you might not have.

Hedges, the University of Washington athletic director, had a vision for Hec Edmundson Pavilion. That vision — to keep the old structure intact while spiffing it up with a major renovation — has been realized. What you have now is a first-class facility that should be a huge boon to recruiting.

The updated version of the old basketball arena was opened up to members of the news media Monday afternoon and when you hear these cynics muttering, "impressive," then maybe you’ve got something.

There’ll be those who’ll grouse because they tweaked the name a bit. It’s now called Bank of America Arena (money speaks nowadays) at Hec Edmundson Pavilion. They ought to be able to live with that once they get a look at the place.

Not to go overboard, but it is impressive.

When you walked into the old Hec Ed for the first time, you couldn’t believe it was the home for a major college basketball program. It had a rubberized track on the ground floor, it was small, it was antiquated (built in 1927) and it had these view-obscuring columns upstairs. It had all the warmth of an airplane hangar.

Cold is out in the modernized version. So is the track (moved to the new football practice facility, still under construction). The seating has been enlarged from 8,000 to 10,000 and there’s not a roof-supporting column in the place. They’ve been replaced by huge steel pipe trusses running along each side of the gym 55 feet in the air.

Yes, Bill Gerberding, you can have a gym without columns.

"Eight years ago, I asked John Skilling (a structural engineer) whether you could take the columns out or not and would the roof stay up and he said ‘absolutely,’ " Hedges recalled. "Interestingly, (former UW president) Bill Gerberding had told me that they had talked about this building for a long time about whether those columns could be taken out and the answer was ‘no.’

"So John Skilling and Skilling (Ward Magnusson &amp Barkshire) engineers figured out a way to take the columns out to design this unique truss system and so far the roof remains and the walls remain (standing)."

Another change: the ceiling tiles are gone. Now you can see the actual ceiling of the old gym.

The best thing about the place: It’s intimate and this should really be felt when it’s jam-packed, which it should be Friday night when the Husky women initiate the place against top-ranked Connecticut. The Husky men get their shot Saturday afternoon against New Mexico State.

Most of the seats are theater-type. The exceptions are the student section downstairs, six rows of benches upstairs and several rows near the top. The benches, however, do have backs.

Six arched windows overlook the place from the upper west end. These aren’t new. They were there in the old building, but covered up.

If you’ll recall, when you entered old Hec Ed, you went immediately down a flight of stairs to get to the gym. Now you enter a concourse where there are concession stands and restrooms. Also on this level is a Husky Store and the Husky Hall of Fame room.

Above the Hall of Fame is the Founder’s Club, which you can visit before, at halftime or after the game for food and drink — if you donate at least $25,000 to the building fund. Expensive grub.

Downstairs, you’ll find new locker rooms, equipment, meeting and training rooms for football, men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball and gymnastics. The sports medicine clinic is also down here and it has been enlarged considerably, to somewhere around 6,000 square feet.

One feature that only the coaches and players will appreciate: a new practice gym on the east end of the facility. Whichever team (men or women) is playing at home will work out in the main arena, the road team will get the practice facility.

All of this will impress high school athletes coming here on recruiting visits.

What Bob Bender, the men’s head basketball coach, can’t wait to see is the reaction of fans and former Husky players walking into the main part of the building for the first time.

"I’ve gone around and sat in different areas," he said, "and it is a basketball arena with the fans in mind, for all the right reasons."

The builders say there’s not a bad seat in the house. And they might be right. From the top row, you have a good view of the court and you don’t need binoculars to see the players. Best of all, you don’t have to pretzel yourself around a post.

Hedges sent assistant athletic director Chip Lydum to sports venues around the country to get ideas on what the renovation project should encompass. "I see Duke and Kansas a lot in this building, especially Duke," Lydum said, referring to Cameron Indoor Stadium. "I don’t think Duke went as far as us in making the modern amenities and the sightline opportunities. They enhanced their building with basically esthetics, but we actually picked up many of their features. Those windows (on the upper west end), you’ll see a similar version of those at Duke."

One thing Duke has that the Huskies have yet to develop: a rabid fandom. "What we have to be able to do is bring (in here) … the atmosphere and the emotion of what Duke is," said Bender, who played most of his college career there and began his coaching career as a Blue Devil assistant.

Bender and women’s coach June Daugherty brought recruits into the place while it was under construction and both agreed it has had a positive impact. Both have solid recruiting classes coming in.

Some of the projects in the building won’t be completed until after the New Year, but they won’t detract from the showcase arena.

Your grandfather would be bowled over.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Sports

From left to right: Arlington’s Kierra Reese and Stanwood’s Ellalee Wortham, Ava DePew and Presley Harris. The foursome, called “Awesome Mix 12,” won the High School Elite division in 2023 and returned to Spokane Hoopfest this year to claim the Women’s Competitive division title. (Photo courtesy Sarah Reese)
Winter Wesco rivals, summer hoopfest champions

Arlington’s Kierra Reese and Stanwood’s Ava DePew, Presley Harris and Ellalee Wortham teamed up to win back-to-back 3-on-3 titles.

Louisville guard Hailey Van Lith found little room between South Carolinas Destiny Littleton (11) and Laeticia Amihere. (Carlos Gonzalez / Star Tribune)
These Olympians in the 2024 Paris Games have ties to Washington state

Nineteen athletes competing in France are from The Evergreen State.

UW Husky rowing will be well-represented in Paris at 2024 Olympics

The U.S. eight competes in heat racing on July 29 with finals on Aug. 3.

Golden Knights center Chandler Stephenson (20) skates with the puck during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Flames at T-Mobile Arena on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Chandler Stephenson’s deal about broader Kraken goals rather than dollar value

The former Golden Knights centerman signed a seven-year deal for $6.25 million with Seattle last week.

Chandler Fry makes a short birdie putt on Hole 6 on Kayak Point Disc Golf Resort’s Red Course. Fry is a professional from Olympia, Wash., and he has tallied 31 career wins. He will be one of the players in this year’s Mixed Pro Open (MPO) division. (Photo courtesy Andy Jaynes)
Disc golf tournament to bring hundreds of competitors to Kayak Point

The fourth annual Kayak Point Open will feature some of the best players in the state and the region this weekend.

Seattle Mariners catcher Cal Raleigh (29) celebrates his two-run home run with a trident as he high fives teammates during the first inning against the Texas Rangers on Tuesday, April 23, 2024, in Arlington, Texas. (Elías Valverde II / Tribune News Service)
Statistics show just how terrible Mariners’ offense has been | Analysis

Seattle leads the AL West, but situational hitting has been a setback.

Everett AquaSox outfielder Lazaro Montes, the Seattle Mariners’ No. 4 ranked prospect, smiles while running onto the field prior to Everett’s game against the Spokane Indians on June 26, 2024 at Funko Field. (Photo courtesy Evan Morud / Everett AquaSox)
AquaSox week in review: Big-prospect Montes one stop closer to dream

RJ Schreck and Will Schomberg lead split against Vancouver.

Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Logan Gilbert throws in the first inning against the Cleveland Guardians on April 7, 2023, at Progressive Field. (John Kuntz / Tribune News Service)
Mariners righty Logan Gilbert earns first MLB All-Star nod

Gilbert has made 18 starts this season and averages 6.5 innings per start, the highest in the AL.

Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Bryan Woo #33 reacts after striking out San Francisco Giants’ Casey Schmitt #6 in the second inning of their MLB game at Oracle Park in San Francisco, Calif., on Monday, July 3, 2023. Woo played for Alameda High School. (Jane Tyska / Bay Area News Group)
Mariners’ Bryan Woo, Gregory Santos in line for rehab outings with Everett AquaSox

The 24-year-old pitcher has been on the injured list since June 25, and his next rotation is Saturday.

Pictured are some of the bracket winners from last year’s Lake Stevens Classic pickleball tournament. (Photo courtesy Pablo Granados)
Registration for Lake Stevens pickleball tournament still open

The 2024 Lake Stevens Classic is July 11-14, no strings attached.

The group of Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Justin Rose on the third green in the second round of the 2015 U.S. Open golf tournament at Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash., on Friday, June 19, 2015. Spieth finished 5 under par for the tournament, making him the sixth player in history to claim both the Masters and U.S. Open titles the same year. (John David Mercer / Tribune News Service)
With no U.S. Open in sight at Chambers, Pierce County ponders Saudi-backed LIV Golf

Various U.S. Open venues are scheduled through 2042, but the 2015 host is not on the list. Jessica Campbell has been hired as a Seattle Kraken assistant coach and stands to become the first woman behind a bench in NHL history when the hockey season opens in October.
Kraken name Jessica Campbell the NHL’s first woman assistant coach

The 32-year-old strives to ‘carry this torch’ and ‘be a representation to women with the same goals.’

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.