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New Castle Field House is Biggest of Them All

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With more than 20,000 high schools in America, there are literally thousands of facilities in which boys and girls basketball teams play hoops. 

Some are unique in design and some have long histories. Many have been the sites of famous games played before fervent crowds. 

And they can range from small cracker-boxes to large facilities in which you can literally seat a community. 

However, when you’re talking “big,” that conversation always has to begin and end with the legendary New Castle Field House in New Castle, Indiana, located just 37 miles east of Indianapolis. 

With a seating capacity of 9,325, it is the nation’s largest high school basketball gym. Built by the Ralph Hunnicutt & Sons Construction Company in 1959, it is home to the New Castle Chrysler High School Trojans basketball team. With a population of 18,000, half of New Castle can fit into the Field House. And on occasion, the 81,000-square-foot building has accommodated more than 10,000 fans. 

One of the unique aspects of its design is the fact that the main basketball court is a “sunken” floor, which means when a fan enters the building at ground level, the court is below. In that regard, it is similar to “The Pit” at the University of New Mexico. 

In 2004, USA Today declared the New Castle Field House as the best gym in the nation in which to play high school basketball. Its unique parquet floor easily conjures memories of Boston Garden. 

You want great players? 

The New Castle Field House was home to two Indiana “Mr. Basketballs” exactly 10 years apart ‑ both of whom went on to star at Indiana University and also played in the NBA. 

From 1969 to 1973, burly 6-10, 235-pound center Kent Benson knocked around lesser bodies as he patrolled the middle for the Trojans. Benson then attended IU, where as a junior he led the 1975-76 Hoosiers to a perfect 32-0 campaign and to the 1976 NCAA men’s basketball championship over Big Ten rival Michigan. 

As a senior in 1982-83, 6-2 guard Steve Alford burned the nets for a prolific 37.7 points a game under the watchful eye of his father Sam Alford, who coached the Trojans. Steve Alford also matriculated at IU, where he led the Hoosiers to the 1987 NCAA national championship over Syracuse. 

Even the NFHS has a connection to the legendary Field House, as former NFHS Assistant Director and NIAAA Executive Director Frank Kovaleski served many years as Chrysler High School’s athletic director.  

And if Hoosier hoops history is your interest, next door is the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. Displays regarding such famous cagers and coaches as John Wooden, Oscar Robertson and Larry Bird abound the building. And every late December, the New Castle Field House hosts the City Securities Hall of Fame Classic basketball tournaments for boys and girls.  

 

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National Federation of State High School Associations
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