It looks like a normal garage from the outside. Maybe it’s to keep the neighbors happy.
Inside, though, Rory Ramsdell’s two-year project of the ultimate KU garage is complete. His daughters now park in the middle of Allen Fieldhouse.
The big build
“I’ve envisioned this for a long time,” said Ramsdell, e’93. “I wanted to build a multipurpose garage with a gym atmosphere.”
The Shawnee resident built the entire building himself. Ramsdell drew on his experience as a mechanical engineer to design the structure, and he tried his hand at amateur photography for the Fieldhouse photos. He printed large sizes of the photos to cover the walls.
Highlights of the project include a programmable scoreboard, lockers for each family member, a TV for watch parties, and a ceiling covered in hand-sewn banners.
The Ramsdells loves hosting friends and family in the garage to watch games and entertain. Pickup games are also known to break out; there’s a hoop, plenty of balls in the lockers, and court lines painted on the concrete floor.
Allen Fieldhouse is special to plenty of Jayhawks, but Ramsdell put in time there as a student behind the scenes.
“I played baseball at KU, and my student work-study program was to do the baseball team laundry, which at the time was in the Fieldhouse. So I was there late at night doing laundry and homework, and sometimes the basketball players would ask me to rebound, maybe play 3 on 3 with them.”
Rory’s love for KU is matched by his family, especially with his daughter Raegan starting at KU in the fall.
“I’m really excited for her future, and hope she has as good of a time as I did as a student.”
What started as a means to pass time between NCAA tournament games turned into much more for Jarrod, f’95, g’03, and Kate Neely Williams, ’97, who this spring masterminded the construction of Alhen Field House, a wildly creative chicken coop built in the likeness of KU’s legendary basketball arena.
The Maryland transplants, who moved to Grimesland, North Carolina, last year after retiring from the U.S. Naval Academy Band, hatched a plan for the hen house while discussing permanent lodging for the family’s 15 baby chicks, which include Devonte’ GrayHen, Bawk Vaughn, Chick Collison, Scot Pullet and Greg Roostertag.
“They can’t stay in the brood house forever,” Jarrod recalls telling his wife. “Why don’t we put them in Allen Field House?”
Alhen Field House
The Williamses, who were members of the KU basketball band, relied on memory and details they found online to construct the 10-by-14-foot structure, which features the field house’s signature red roof, limestone-hued walls, abundant rows of windows and large 3-D block letters that spell out “Alhen Field House.”
“We were just going to do the outside, but we thought how plain the inside looked,” says Jarrod, who embellished the coop’s interior with hand-painted championship and final four banners, as well as a Bawk Chalk scoreboard—complete with a blowout KU win over Mizzou—and the retired jerseys of Jayhawk greats. He even recreated the antique Longines clock that hangs on Allen Field House’s west wall.
“The 172-95 score is our all-time record against Mizzou,” says Kate. “We didn’t just make it up out of thin air, or it would have been even more lopsided.”
Jarrod insists there are no ruffled feathers in his ‘hood, despite the fact that nearly everyone is a Tar Heel or Blue Devil. “I’m really making friends in my new neighborhood,” he jokes.
Allen Fieldhouse doors (north, south, and east entrances) will open Saturday at 6:30 p.m. Fans will be able to watch the Jayhawks’ NCAA Final Four game vs. Villanova on the video board.
Members of the KU pep band and spirit squad will be on hand, with the Rally House store, the Booth Family Hall of Athletics, and concession stands on the first and second levels open for fans.
The event is free and open for all ages, with parking lots available at no charge, including the parking garage adjacent to Allen Fieldhouse and the new KU Central District garage. The Fieldhouse will close immediately following the game.
The game will tip at approximately 7:45 p.m. (40 minutes after the conclusion of the first semifinal game, which tips at 5:09 p.m.)
If the Jayhawks win Saturday, Allen Fieldhouse will be open for Monday night’s NCAA Championship game. The game tips at 8:15 p.m. Doors will open at 7 p.m.
When the KU Men’s Basketball team sent out the call, Jayhawks delivered.
After hours of pandemonium on Massachusetts Street, thousands of students, fans and alumni made the trek to Allen Fieldhouse to welcome the Final Four team home.
Fans were treated to a replay of the Elite Eight game, reliving Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk’s game-tying basket that sent the game to overtime and Malik Newman’s overtime scoring barrage to clinch a trip to San Antonio.
As the seconds ticked away on the replay, the video board transitioned to a highlight package of the game, mixed with fan videos from social media and the party on Mass Street. When the video ended with the Final Four logo, the crowd roared as the Jayhawks walked in.
With Devonte’ Graham leading the team in while holding the regional trophy, Head Coach Bill Self addressed the crowd first, asking the question everyone was thinking: “Did these guys play like men today, or what?”
Graham, Newman, and Mykhailiuk all spoke as well, thanking the fans for their support, and asking fans to continue that support at the final four.
“I hope all y’all can get to San Antonio,” Graham said, “and hopefully we can win two more for y’all. Rock Chalk.”
In 1988, a couple of KU students hatched an idea, created a banner and left a legacy that has come to define KU’s storied Allen Fieldhouse, known to many simply as “the Phog.” Thirty years later, the friends and KU alumni reunited to reminisce about the banner and how it all came to be.
“I was in class one day and had been thinking about it for a while,” Todd Gilmore revealed in a recent article in the Kansas City Star. “Then we started talking about building it.”
Gilmore, a’88, and classmate Michael Gentemann, a’88, went on the record in a short documentary aired by ESPN this week, sharing the story of how their partner in crime, Tom Kippenberger, a’88, managed to secure ten shower curtains from McCollum Hall, pinning them together to form one massive banner.
Gentemann did the honors by sketching out the now-famous phrase while a group of friends painted the sacred text on the banner sprawled across the floor of a hallway in Marvin Hall.
The banner was first hoisted into the rafters of the fieldhouse on Feb. 20, 1988.
“I’d never ever heard the words ‘the Phog,’ and he coined it,” Gentemann said of Gilmore’s reference to Forrest Allen’s nickname, now synonymous with the fieldhouse that bears his name. “It took off from there. Now it’s on T-shirts, coffee mugs, credit cards… it’s on everything.”
The short documentary can be watched in its entirety here, with comments from Coach Bill Self, ESPN College Game Day Analyst Jay Bilas and Allen’s own granddaughter, Judy Morris, c’60.
“What it has done is not only give the opposing team a little shudder maybe as they come through the doors,” Morris reflects in the mini-documentary, “but it also puts my grandfather’s name, “Phog,” out there and makes people remember him.”
Phog Allen’s legacy, and the phrase inspired by his name, live on inside Allen Fieldhouse where a vinyl version of the banner has replaced the original. It hangs in the Booth Hall of Athletics, enshrined behind glass, where Gilmore can admire their handiwork and marvel at that magical time in 1988.
“To win the national championship our senior year, Danny’s last year, we had this banner put up, what a perfect way to end a college career,” he said. “Can’t get any better than that.”
ABOUT THE VIDEO:
Curtis Marsh, director of the DeBruce Center, shared some behind-the-scenes information about the making of the video.
“We hosted the film crew in the DeBruce Center, along with a sizable group of the guys who created the banner. It was great to see a collection of alumni who still remain close and connect regularly. They were a treat to have in the building, and we did all the interviews on the DeBruce Center third floor, just steps away from where the men’s and women’s basketball teams eat their evening meals.”
So, about the footage of the students creating the banner…
“The following day, a group of current students were filmed painting a replica of the Banner, pretending to hang it in the Fieldhouse and even pretending to steal the shower curtains. The film crew did such a great job with the video reenactment that many viewers think it’s the real footage from the 80s! Some clips came from a video from that time period, but the banner footage is from 2018.”
The creators of the famous “Beware of the Phog” banner, hanging at Allen Fieldhouse, home of the Jayhawks, tell you how they did it in this interview with Jesse Newell for the Kansas City Star.
Jim Doepke, aka “Mr. Trumpet,” returned to Allen Field House Feb. 3 to play the alma mater and national anthem before the KU-Oklahoma State men’s basketball game. It’s Doepke’s sixth time performing before the Jayhawk faithful, but he insists it never gets old—especially when his return coincides with the anniversaries of the 1988 and 2008 NCAA National Championship teams and the basketball program’s 120th anniversary.
“That just adds to the excitement,” says Doepke. “It’s just so cool to be part of that.”
Doepke, d’74, a retired high school band director who lives Florida, arrived in Lawrence on Friday with his son, J.P. Their first stop was Allen Field House, where father and son toured the exhibits and interactive displays in the Booth Family Hall of Athletics. “I’ve never really had time to do that,” Doepke says. “We really enjoyed it.”
Later, with trumpet in hand, Doepke visited the Adams Alumni Center, where he surprised staff with a special performance of the alma mater.
Doepke, who has set a goal to play the national anthem at all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums, is scheduled to perform Aug. 2 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis and Aug. 4 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, which will raise his ballpark tally to 19.
The new home of Naismith’s original rules of basketball hosted a housewarming party when the DeBruce Center held its official grand opening celebration on Saturday, July 23. Hundreds of loyal fans and alumni made the pilgrimage to Lawrence to pay tribute to the game’s inventor and tour the new building connected to Allen Fieldhouse.
Visitors took in exhibit panels telling the story of Naismith and the influence he and Phog Allen, the “father of basketball coaching,” had on the world. Two of Phog’s former players, Bill Hougland, b’52, and Jerry Waugh, d’51 g’59, were among the first through the doors, eager to view the rules and relive their glory days playing basketball for KU.
“We only had one set of rules when we played, and those were Doc Allen’s rules,” Hougland shared. “You didn’t break those.”
Families enjoyed games and attractions for kids, including face painting, balloon animals, and book signings. Fans were able to view the star attraction, Naismith’s original rules, with a recording of a radio broadcast of Naismith being interviewed. The recording, in which Naismith talks about his invention, was recently discovered by a KU researcher and is the only known recording of Naismith.
Some of the fun and attractions were chronicled on social media by those who took time to visit the DeBruce Center, which you can check out below.
For those who visit, more sights and sounds abound, including a short movie presentation (in a small theater in Allen Fieldhouse), plus shopping and dining options at the Original Rules Gift Shop and the Courtside Cafe. The DeBruce Center is operated by the KU Memorial Unions and is open Monday through Thursday from 7am to 6pm, Friday from 7am to 5pm and Saturdays 10am – 5pm. It is closed on Sundays.
Curtis Marsh, j’92, and Joe Zielinski, j’92, are well-known to many KU basketball fans for their, shall we say, shenanigans in Allen Fieldhouse. Anyone remember Captain Jayhawk and the Superfans, or the Flying Banduzzici Brothers? Many of their antics were left behind when the men graduated, but one tradition still makes an occasional appearance in the Fieldhouse: whistling.
As fixtures in the student section during their college days, Joe and Curtis spent their pre-game hours like most students— tearing newspapers into confetti and organizing cheers— but they also became adept at whistling very loudly, sometimes even on-key.
They used their newfound skill to make as much noise as possible during the games, but they also began to experiment with actual songs. According to Curtis, “We didn’t like the profanity some students used to show their disdain toward the game’s referees, so we started whistling ‘Three Blind Mice’ whenever we disagreed with a call.”
Joe and Curtis then decided to step up their game and try whistling the trumpet solo while the pep band played “Brass Roots.” After several attempts, they perfected their whistling duet and a new tradition was born.
After graduating, the pair thought their whistling days were in the past. “We thought it was less acceptable to be so silly in other parts of the Fieldhouse,” Curtis says. But to their surprise, they discovered that the “Brass Roots” whistle duet was still well-received outside the student section.
“The song is played less often these days, but the current band director heard about our little show and asked if we’d like to perform with the band,” explained Curtis. “So, whenever we attend a game together, if the band plays ‘Brass Roots’ we whistle along.”
Watch a video of the Allen Fieldhouse Whistlers, shot in 2014 by Andy Lees with KU Marketing and Communications:
Neeli Bendapudi, dean of the KU School of Business, attended the 60th anniversary celebration of Allen Fieldhouse on Monday, Oct. 27, 2014. This is her reflection on the memorable evening. This post originally appeared on the KU School of Business blog and is republished with permission.
Tonight at Allen Fieldhouse with four extraordinary coaches will be a memory I will cherish always as a Jayhawk.
It was also one of the finest lessons on leadership that I have witnessed as a professor of business or as a business executive.
All the coaches emphasized the importance of getting the best people, helping them achieve their potential, getting them to play unselfishly, i.e. to put the team ahead of themselves, and building lifelong relationships.
They all talked about building sustainable success. The players who introduced them described them as “my mentor,” “my friend,” and “my hero.” These were not leaders who expected or tolerated mediocrity. They expected the best of their players; the players responded because they knew the coaches held themselves to the same standards.
As someone who has never followed sports commentators and could probably name three if pushed, I am proud to say that as of today, I am a fan of @jaybilas who did a great job of moderating the evening and I learned he encouraged the very best coach, @coachbillself, to come here.
I cannot capture the wit and wisdom of our coaches. But here is something Coach Self said that I believe to my core. We are all just temporary caretakers of a great institution and a legacy of excellence. Students, faculty, staff, in every arena we play in, let us also remember the impact we have on KU and strive to be champions in all we do.
Athlon Sports asked a dozen college basketball media members—including writers, broadcasters and former players—to rank their 10 favorite hoops venues, and, to the surprise of no Jayhawks anywhere, Allen Field House came out on top.
Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium was a close second, yet, while Allen and Cameron far outpaced the rest of the field and were the only two arenas named on all 12 ballots, KU’s hoops haven scored nine first-place votes compared with one each for Cameron Indoor, Butler’s Hinkle Fieldhouse and New York City’s Madison Square Garden (home court for St. John’s University).
Picking Allen Field House No. 1 were ESPN’s Jay Bilas (a four-year starter at Duke), Fran Fraschilla, Jeff Goodman and Dave LaMont; Bleacher Report’s Jason King, former KU beat writer for the Kansas City Star; Mike DeCourcy, of The Sporting News; Eric Prisbell, of USA Today; Rob Dauster, of College Basketball Talk; and Dick Weiss, BlueStar Media.
Pat Forde, of Yahoo Sports, was the only voter to rank Allen Field House lower than No. 2, placing it fourth behind Hinkle Fieldhouse, Cameron Indoor and Louisville’s KFC Yum! Center.