This is Bellarmine’s first season as a Division I basketball team, and they’re going to spend it in…Freedom Hall?
Oh yes, the Knights just announced that they’ve signed a multiyear partnership to play men’s and women’s basketball games in Freedom Hall, which was once home to UofL basketball games, the occasional UK game, concerts, and, most recently, horse shows and rodeos.
According to Bellarmine Athletic Director Scott Wiegandt, when the pandemic hit, the school started looking for alternative venues for its games, and Freedom Hall was “a natural choice.” With a capacity of 18,252 seats, Freedom Hall can accommodate 2,700 fans under Governor Beshear’s recommendation of 15% capacity, compared to Knights Hall, which seats 2,196 for basketball and would have been restricted to just over 300 fans this season.
“We then saw the obvious benefits of making Freedom Hall a more long-term home for our basketball programs,” Wiegandt added. “It has long been considered one of the best places in the world to watch a basketball game and the venue gives us ample room to grow into our new D-I status.”
The Knights tip off the season at Freedom Hall Thanksgiving weekend. The men host NCAA D-III Transylvania University on Saturday, Nov. 28 at 2 p.m., and the women welcome Western Illinois the next day. By then, Bellarmine plans to have a court installed that mirrors the one in Knights Hall and signage throughout to make fans feel at home. They’ll also be serving alcohol at the concession stands.
If you’re like me and didn’t even know Freedom Hall was still standing, you’ll be happy to know that it’s actually been renovated recently, with new lighting in the concourse and arena, renovated suites, state-of-the-art display on the center-hung digital scoreboard and a cutting-edge sound system. No word on if it still smells like caramel corn.
Get those #SwordsUpBU! The Knights men’s and women’s basketball teams will play their home games in Freedom Hall under a new multiyear partnership with Kentucky Venues. https://t.co/F9KYRsLnc4 @BUKnights @BUKnightsMBB @buknightsWBB @kyexpocenter pic.twitter.com/yoQO58rSA6
— Bellarmine University? (@bellarmineU) November 2, 2020