Though the Huey P. Long Field House stands as a ghost of its former self, it’s set to be resurrected by fundraising efforts aimed at renovating the 83-year-old historical building.
The Huey P. Long Field House once was used as the Student Union from 1932-1964, complete with a grand ballroom fitted with chandeliers, pianos and a Tiger emblem decoratively carved into the tiles near the main entrance.
The Field House also served as the campus recreational center, housing basketball courts, racquetball courts and a legendary pool, once boasted to be the longest in the United States, according to the 1933 Gumbo.
However, over the years, the Field House lost its grandeur. The dilapidated building currently houses the School of Kinesiology and School of Social Work.
Kinesiology professor Chad Siefried said the building is in need of dire repairs and renovations.
“We have ceiling tiles falling down. We got floors that are coming up. We’ve had floods and fires in the building,” Siefried said. “Tiles are falling off the ceiling because we have a leaky roof.”
Space is another issue plaguing the building. The School of Kinesiology has to outsource classes to other parts of campus, Siefried said.
“The terrible result is because we don’t have enough classrooms. We have a huge waitlist,” Siefried said. “Students will say, ‘I’m number 40 or 50 on the waitlist.’”
Director of communications for the College of Human Sciences and Education Mary Woods said the Field House is slated for renovations and ranks third on the list of the University’s fundraising priorities.
Woods said the college is spearheading fundraising efforts to raise $18 million needed to begin the renovations.
All $18 million must be accounted for before any renovations can begin Woods said.
Woods said the fundraising effort consists of two phases — a silent phase and a public phase.
“We are hoping to get a state match,” Woods said. “Right now we are in the silent phase, that’s when you are going after the big donors.”
The college has not decided when the fundraising efforts will go public, Woods said.
Woods said during the public phase, the campaign will be revealed to the entire community, and a website will be set up to take donations from the University community.
The ideal time for the efforts to go public would be during football season, Woods said, so the project can capitalize on the increased foot traffic around the building.
The Field House was constructed in 1932 and began to see decay during the ’60s. The construction of the new Student Union led to decreased maintenance.
Maintenance to the pool and gymnasium decreased even more drastically once the UREC was constructed in 1992.
In 2000, the pool and gymnasium were deemed uninhabitable, and the doors closed in 2003.
Director of Planning, Design and Construction Roger Husser said an architectural program was created for the building in 2014.
“The program is not a set of blueprints.” Husser said. “It is an understanding of what the building is now and what it needs to become.”
Once all the funds have been accounted for, blueprints will be created.
Husser said the design phase of the renovations is a nine to 12 month process.
The original pool will not be restored but instead, will be turned into a lawn area featuring a water fixture, which would serve as a legacy to the pool, Husser said.
Husser said renovations to the Field House will modernize the inside of the building but preserve the exterior’s historical character.