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We want to take you behind the scenes, to give you insider information you won't find anywhere else. This is where we pull Bloomington's hip happenings together with recommendations from our team, first-hand accounts from project producers, and guest blogs by local gurus.  The Backstage Blog helps you stay in front of it all.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Experience Bloomington's Hoosier Basketball Trail

Categories: Indiana University, Arts & Culture, General

In Indiana, basketball is more than a game — it's a source of Hoosier pride, culture, and community that spans over a century of history. As the birthplace of Indiana University Basketball, Bloomington in particular is a hub for the sport's legend and lore. With a famed basketball arena, multiple museums with collections on the area's basketball history, and other attractions that display fanfare & memorabilia on their walls, a journey through Bloomington's Basketball Trail is a must for all enthusiasts of the sport.
 

Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall

Men's Basketball IU

The Bloomington Basketball Trail begins at the site of Hoosier tradition, lore, victory, and comradery; a place that's considered one of college basketball's most iconic arenas: Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. It's a venue with rich basketball history — practically holy ground for college basketball enthusiasts. Visiting the sports venue when it's still and empty is a special treat — you can take your time wandering the halls and checking out the historic team photos & other memorabilia, including the scoreboard and center court from decades ago, cases of championship trophies, and the legendary NCAA championship banners.

Be sure to come back to Bloomington to attend an IU basketball game, which is a different kind of special treat — there's nothing quite like watching the Hoosiers dribble on the iconic court and singing "Sweet Caroline" with 17,000 people as the Red Pep Band jovially plays the tune from the stands.
 

Cook Hall

Entrance to the Pfau Shine Legacy Court inside Cook Hall

Located right beside Assembly Hall is the second stop on the basketball trail: Cook Hall. The state-of-the-art facility serves as the practice, training, and conditioning domain for the men's and women's basketball teams. Beyond its primary purpose, Cook Hall is also home to the Pfau Shine Legacy Court, which is an exhibit that chronicles the history of Indiana Basketball. The space features photographs, artifacts, trophies, and interactive touch-screen kiosks that celebrate IU's championship teams and basketball traditions, giving studentsalumni, and visiting fans a unique opportunity to experience the university's celebrated basketball history.
 

BuffaLouie's

Walls lined with TVs and sports memorabilia at BuffaLouie's

After a glorious morning filled to the brim with Hoosier Basketball history, you might be getting hungry. Let us point you toward another Hoosier sports staple: BuffaLouie's. Located just steps from Sample Gates, the restaurant specializes in juicy, sauced-up wings — in fact, they were ranked by USA Today as a Top 10 Wing Joint in the United States. If you're wondering what delicious chicken wings have to do with IU Basketball, all you have to do is look at the restaurant's walls.  Lined from floor-to-ceiling with IU sports memorabilia, art, and fanfare, BuffaLouie's is a bit of a Hoosier museum in its own right. Kick back and enjoy your basket of buffalo-tossed drummies & flats while you take in the many artifacts hung on the walls and catch the latest sports games being broadcasted on the many TVs throughout the restaurant.
 

IU Archives

IU Archives reading room
Photo by Indiana Public Media

After lunch, head to the fourth stop on the trail: IU Archives, located on the fourth floor of Wells Library on the Indiana University campus. A cross between a museum and a library itself, IU Archives is the largest & most comprehensive source of information on IU Bloomington history & culture — basketball included. Visitors can study documents, photos, and other historical pieces that date back to when the university first started participating in intercollegiate men's basketball in 1901. 

For the best experience, IU Archives recommends emailing archives@iu.edu to let them know what you're interested in seeing — much of their collection is stored off-site, and an advance notice will allow them to curate basketball-related materials for you ahead of your visit, which you can look over in their Reading Room.
 

Graduate Bloomington Hotel

The lobby/check-in desk at the Graduate Hotel

The second-to-last stop on the Bloomington Basketball Trail is a bit of an oddball, but it's a stop you won't want to miss. The Graduate Bloomington Hotel, located on Kirkwood Avenue just a few blocks from Sample Gates, houses a variety of interesting IU sports memorabilia in their lobby, lounge area, and rooms. While there's a range of decor inside the hotel's rooms, visitors who aren't staying the night can still see the cheeky chandelier of tangled chairs as a nod to Bobby Knight, the massive painting of the basketball team in the movie Hoosiers, and the hotel's basketball hoop light fixtures. The Graduate's art-deco-esque basketball decor  is a very fun play on the iconic college team's history — a must see for those traversing the trail.
 

Nick's English Hut

One of the bar areas upstairs at Nick's English Hut

There's no better place to end the Bloomington Basketball Trail than at the dearly beloved Nick's English Hut. A mainstay for locals, alumni, students, and visitors, Nick's is a home to Hoosier history in the same way BuffaLouie's is. The tavern's walls are adorned with historic IU memorabilia, including art, old fliers & posters, team photographs, and much, much more. If you're in town during a game day for any sport, but you don't have tickets to attend the game, Nick's is the second-best place to be — catch the game on one of their many TVs with a restaurant full of fellow Hoosier fans.

Aside from taking several moments to admire the incredible amount of Hoosier history on the walls, you simply can't have a proper Nick's experience without (for those of age) playing a game of Sink the Biz (a drinking game in which an empty, weighted glass — the Biz — is placed in the middle of a metal bucket full of beer, and players must take turns pouring beer from their own glasses into the floating cup. The player who sinks the Biz must recover the glass and drink its contents.) and ordering a Nick's Submarine with a bucket of Sink the Biz fries to share.

 

Looking for more sports-related attractions in Bloomington? Check out these blogs:

 

Alyssa Davis

Alyssa Davis

Alyssa is the Digital Content Coordinator at Visit Bloomington. She's a proud Indiana University alumna, mom to four cats, and Formula 1 enthusiast. When she isn't at work, you can find Alyssa checking out the newest restaurants in the area with her husband, curled up at home with a great book, or planning her next trip to a destination near or far.

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