Tell me about Stokely Athletic Center.

#2

esarmstrong

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#2
Adolph Rupp and Joe Hall hated Stokely. Tennessee had a distinct home court advantage when games were played there, especially when Kentucky came to play. No matter how good Kentucky was, teams came there to die. In 1980 - my freshman year at UT - an unranked Tennessee team with two of its best players suspended beat the number 2 Kentucky Wildcats. The atmosphere was electric that day.
 
#3

peaygolf

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#3
Being a younger fan, I never got to experience Stokely.

Interested in hearing from fans who attended games, concerts, etc. there.

What did you like/dislike about it? What was unique about Stokely compared to other arenas.

I have a big interest in old gyms, arenas, stadiums.
Sorry you missed out....Great place. So much better than TBA
 
#4
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#4
Being a younger fan, I never got to experience Stokely.

Interested in hearing from fans who attended games, concerts, etc. there.

What did you like/dislike about it? What was unique about Stokely compared to other arenas.

I have a big interest in old gyms, arenas, stadiums.
It was smoking. Literally and figuratively.

It doubled as an indoor Track and Field facility. About the first 25 rows on each side were folding chairs and the floors would be pushed back to expand the playing surface.

The best seats were in the end zones.

John Ward had to hike to the extreme last row on the side opposite the benches and then take a long cat walk to a rickety, wooden “bird’s nest” hanging from the rafters.

The US flag was lowered from the rafters by an electric motor and rolled back up after the National Anthem played.

The Volunteer Classic was a 4-team tournament. The center scoreboard was lowered to the ground by another electric motor and the plastic team names were replaced on all 4 sides between games by a guy from the maintenance staff on a ladder. Then he’d go to the upper deck of each end zone and replace the name plates on those 2 scoreboards.

Haywood Harris sat in the center of the court side officials/press row between the benches and manned the mic for the PA system.

The court was Tartan. It was concrete covered in a rubber surface.

There was a Junior Varsity team as well as the Varsity team. Until Grunfeld arrived in 1973, freshmen were not eligible to play Varsity. On double header nights, members of each team sat behind the bench of the other in their bright Orange sport coats.

Mears had a pre-game routine with orange and white basketballs and player drills while Sweet Georgia Brown played over the PA. The finale was Roger Peltz and then Bill Seale peddling on a unicycle to the goal for a layup. The crowd would cheer when the layups were made. I don’t remember, they might have repeated the attempt on misses.

For a season or two there was a mascot that was a large, paper machete Orange that resembled the Syracuse Orange.

The pep band used to come out from underneath an end zone and March around the court.

The concourse was filled with museum pieces. Trophies from every sport and pictures of All-Americans and championship teams.

The east end of the concourse was directly connected to the Gibbs Hall lobby where student-athlete housing was located.

In the early 1970s or late 1960s there was a high school basketball game between Austin-East and another school (Fulton?). The game ended in a riot between fans. The folding chairs became projectiles. The concourse was heavily vandalized including the trophy case. TN then banned high school games in Stokely.
 
#7

Sudden Impact

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#7
On a packed day it was awesome....The Crowd Noise would raise the Roof. If it needed quiet you could hear a fly scratch it's leg...Home court advantage. Brother was ejected from game for standing in the Aisle and yelling obscenities' at a Ref for an obvious miss called...It was Tight...
 
#8
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#8
Arnold Zandi used to roam the aisles selling “yummies for the tummy”. And programs. I’m pretty sure that I have his autograph on a program that Mom got him to sign for me. He ran for mayor of Knoxville several times. The newspaper published candidate campaign expenses. Arnold’s included new soles for his shoes.

Zandi, Arnold - Volopedia
 
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#9
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#9
There was a group of boosters in a designated section on one side called the “Orange Tie Club”.

There was a group of promising local players that were about 11 or 12 years old that were rounded up and performed halftime drills much like the Varsity’s pre-game warmups. They were called the Little Big Orange Basketeers.

Roger Peltz returned a year or two after graduating and wrestled a live, but drugged and declawed, bear during one halftime.

Andy Holt’s seats were in the center of the lower level end zone opposite of the TN bench.
 
#11
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#11
Jimmy Buffet played a show around 1980. There was a rumor going around that he was killed in a plane crash heading to Knoxville. His show started with a guitar and his hat hanging on the mic stand and then he came out and joked about the rumor.
 
#14

fifties fan

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#14
The 'riot' was a state tournament game with one team from Chattanooga. Stokely was a great venue for the old 'boys regional' tournaments. Early on, bleachers on one side and one end. One of the downsides of the bb set up was that the rise of the seats was so shallow that the top rows were waaay back from the court.
 
#16
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#16
Each free throw line was inside of a circle. Instead of alternate possessions there were jump balls in those situations. There was also a center jump to start the second half. It was a pretty substantial advantage to have a center that won the center jumps when there was no shot clock and scoring was low.

After each of the first 6 fouls teams took one foul shot. Starting with the 7th they were awarded a BONUS foul shot and the scoreboard had a little sign saying “BONUS” that would light up.

There were “hash marks” off of each wing on the sidelines. The ball had to penetrate those marks within 5 seconds when defenders pressured the ball handler or else a turnover was whistled for “5 seconds”.

Traveling was strictly enforced if the dribbler’s hand wasn’t kept on the top of the ball. 3 second violations were common to prevent centers from camping out in the lane.

Lots of stink pickles (cigars) were burned by fans throughout the building.
 
#17
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#17
It was old. So the Cancel Culture decided it must go. No traditions allowed in colleges anymore. Better to play in a newer, half empty arena I guess.

It used to be where you registered for the next quarter and went to pick up your class schedule.
One thing that Pat Summitt did that ticked me off was demanding to move all LV home games to the TBA. They could have kept Stokely alive had they used it as their primary venue. The first game in the TBA was actually a Lady Vols game.

They also had graduation ceremonies in Stokely.
 
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#19

eaglevol

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#19
Adolph Rupp and Joe Hall hated Stokely. Tennessee had a distinct home court advantage when games were played there, especially when Kentucky came to play. No matter how good Kentucky was, teams came there to die. In 1980 - my freshman year at UT - an unranked Tennessee team with two of its best players suspended beat the number 2 Kentucky Wildcats. The atmosphere was electric that day.
Howard Wood from the baseline, 49-47. I was there. Great atmosphere.
 
#22
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#22
Adolph Rupp and Joe Hall hated Stokely. Tennessee had a distinct home court advantage when games were played there, especially when Kentucky came to play. No matter how good Kentucky was, teams came there to die. In 1980 - my freshman year at UT - an unranked Tennessee team with two of its best players suspended beat the number 2 Kentucky Wildcats. The atmosphere was electric that day.
I was there got two student tickets from a scalper for 20 bucks and sat in the lower level it was something I will never forget! Never experienced anything like that since.
 
#23
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#23
I walked into Stokely for the first time as a new freshman in 1971 to pick up my class registration for the quarter. All the tables spread out across the floor. Big boxes of paper forms. You'd get the results of the computer's attempt at giving you your pre-registration requested classes. And there were always problems. As a poor freshman, you had lowest priority. So, off you went to the mile-long drop/add line which took about an hour to wait through. And if your requested schedule change was not available, that meant leaving the computer station to go work on a different registration request, and then wait another hour through the line.
 
#24

eaglevol

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#24
I also saw Eagles there in November of 1979. The Long Run tour, also known as the Joe Walsh for President tour. Sold out, packed, great concert.
March of 1980 was the John Tate / Michael Weaver Hwt boxing championship. Tate had him beat, but wanted a knockout in front of the hometown crowd. Got too close, Weaver connected and Tate went down like an oak tree. Less than a minute left in the fight. Took several minutes to revive Tate, he was out cold..
 
#25
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#25
The original inflatable football practice bubble was across the street to the south (Johnny Majors Blvd). It was later moved to Andy Holt Blvd between the Presidential Court and Tom Black Track.

I always thought that “Tom Black” was a big time donor that owned Tom’s Potato Chips. But the founder’s name was Tom Huston. So I don’t know who Tom Black was although I knew a couple of his descendants named Black.

The Stokely family sold canned beans. They also were the original producers and distributors of Gatorade (Stokely-Van Camp).
 
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