U of L is in its 48th season in tradition-rich Freedom Hall, home of both the men's and women's basketball teams and one of the nation's finest arenas.
Situated on the massive Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center in Louisville, Freedom Hall was refurbished and refined in 1984 to increase its seating capacity from 16,613 to 18,865.
The approximate $13.3 million renovation of the 45-year-old, state-owned facility began April 2, 1984. Lower arena seating and the ceiling were torn out and renovation crews removed some 10,000 square feet of dirt to lower the floor about 10 feet.
The resulting renovation project has provided the Cardinals with a showcase for college basketball at its best. In addition to added seating, among the structural improvements were a $750,000 lighting system that is daylight balanced, a $225,000 sound system, a new ceiling, a reinforced roof and a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.
Also included are 24 private boxes located between the lower arena and loge seats. A new scoreboard system and video wall setup was installed in 1994.
Other features included in the renovation that accompany the arena are a press room, locker rooms and coaches' offices for the Cardinals and visiting teams, a president's reception room and two plush VIP lounges.
The multi-purpose facility was the site of the 2001 and 2003 Conference USA Men's Basketball Tournaments and the 2002 Conference USA Women's Basketball Tournament. Freedom Hall also housed nine Metro Conference Basketball Tournaments (1976, 1980, 1981, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1992, 1993 and 1995).
Six NCAA Finals have been staged in Freedom Hall, home of the University of Louisville men's basketball team since 1956. The 1976 NCAA Midwest Regional was held there in addition to the first and second rounds of the 1983 NCAA Midwest Regional. The NCAA Southeast Regional was played there in 1987. U of L also hosted the First and Second Rounds of the NCAA Southeast Regional in 1991.
Freedom Hall's facelift provided new record crowds for the Cards. The largest crowd in the facility was the 20,086 group that witnessed U of L defeat 19th-ranked Indiana on Feb. 1, 2003. The biggest crowd prior to the renovation was 17,661 against Cincinnati on February 22, 1969.
Freedom Hall surpassed the nine million mark in attendance for U of L basketball games in 2001. Last year the Cards ranked third nationally in home attendance with a 19,037 home average, the 27th consecutive year U of L has ranked among the nation's top 10, including 21 straight in the top five. U of L averaged a record 19,590 in 1996-97.
In addition to college basketball, Freedom Hall has served as a site of the state high school basketball tournament, all-star contests and various concerts and conventions. The facility was originally designed for just one event - the Kentucky State Fair Horse Show, considered the world championship for show horses.