OSU’s Gallagher-Iba Arena

My work frequently takes me to interesting places which I write about in my weekly column.

                    Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

 Welcome back.   This week with the college football season over and basketball going full speed I thought I’d bring you a little history on one of Oklahoma’s favorite venues for college games.

You may not be familiar with the name Ed Gallagher but I’m sure you’ve heard of Henry Iba.  Put their two last names together and that’s where I’m about to take you this week.  On New Year’s day Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater was rockin’ as OSU played Gonzaga in a battle between two elite teams. I was there for the game and it was a good one but the historic building stole the show.

The arena was completed in 1938 and the first game was played there on December 9th of the same year. It was OSU versus Kansas and OSU won 21-15. Initially the arena was called “Gallagher Hall” in honor of OSU wrestling great Ed Gallagher. 1n  1987, after a 3.8 million dollar remodel, the Board of Regents added Henry Iba’s name and renamed the facility “Gallagher-Iba Arena.”

Henry Iba coached the OSU men’s basketball team to 767 wins and when he retired in 1970 he was second only to Adolph Ropp. Over all Iba’s teams won 13 league championships, appeared in 8 NCAA tournaments and won the NCAA title twice, in 1945 and 1946.

In 2000 the arena was renovated again and seating capacity was expanded from 6,381 to 13,611. In 2005 the court itself was named the “Eddie Sutton Court.” By the way, the court still has the original white maple flooring.

Today Gallagher-Iba arena has 14 luxury suites that extend along the west side of the building. The suites offer premium views of the games and also overlook the adjoining Boone Pickens Stadium. Beneath the boxes is Heritage Hall which is like a museum with trophies and photos from all the sports offered at OSU. Heritage Hall highlights OSU’s prides in both the athletic and academic achievements of its students. It’s a must see the next time you’re at the university.

One statistic that I thought was particularly impressive is that over the past 74 years since the building was completed, the OSU Cowboys basketball team has a record of 724 wins versus only 200 losses. They have had 10 undefeated seasons and they have only lost three regular season non conference home games since 1987. Gallagher-Iba Arena is a building with a winning history and CBS Sports calls it the best  arena in the country, even surpassing Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium. ESPN puts Gallagher-Iba a close second to Palestra Arena in Pennsylvania and CBS sportscaster Dan Wetzel says its easily the loudest arena in the nation.

My pre-game tour of the facility included the players’ locker rooms where everything is top of the line. There is a strength and conditioning area and several sports medicine suites which look like hospital facilities. The full time staff of six includes doctors and certified athletic trainers as well as seven graduate assistants in physical therapy and athletic training. I was so impressed I’m already planning another visit.

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