For more than half a century, Cassell Coliseum has provided Virginia Tech with one of the greatest home venues in all of college sports. Winning has been the norm in the facility since its opening in 1961, and Cassell is perhaps even more exciting today than ever in its history.
Cassell serves as the home to Virginia Tech men’s basketball, women’s basketball, volleyball and wrestling programs, and in 2010-11, the Virginia Tech athletics department celebrated Cassell’s 50th anniversary by bringing back many of the former great players and coaches in various sports who have played in the arena. Also, the first men’s basketball team ever to play in Cassell was recognized.
Construction for the main portion of Cassell began in 1961, and though not completed, the Tech men’s basketball team opened the arena on Jan. 3, 1962, with a 91-67 victory over Alabama. The team played in the building for two years before workers from T.C. Brittain and Company of Decatur, Ga., finished the building in December of 1964 at a cost of $2.7 million.
For years, the arena was called the Virginia Tech Coliseum. But on September 17, 1977, Virginia Tech officials and friends dedicated the coliseum in honor of the late Stuart K. Cassell, who spearheaded the project. In the late 1950s, Cassell, who was the chief business officer at the time and later became the vice president of the school, saw the need for a new basketball arena to replace the outdated War Memorial Gymnasium, and he eventually managed to get the state legislature to approve the building of the 8,000-seat arena. Cassell, though, found a seat manufacturer that made seats a little smaller than normal seats and squeezed an extra 2,000 seats into the building, bringing the capacity to 10,000.
Since that time, Cassell Coliseum has undergone many renovations to make it the building it is today. Prior to the 1988-89 season, a new spring-loaded playing floor was installed. In 1996-97, workers replaced the roof of the facility and installed structural access to the heating and lighting systems. They also restored and resealed the exterior concrete walls and buttresses.
In 2000-01, new video boards were added to both ends of the coliseum to provide for live action and video replays during all games, and in 2001-02, the seats were stripped of their paint and refinished to retain their natural wood look. Prior to the 2003-04 season, the concourse area was renovated and now features more accessible concession areas, new flooring, video monitors that allow fans to watch the action when not in the arena and the addition of Hokie stone to many of the entrances to the seating area.
Through new projects, renovations and maintenance reserve projects, Cassell Coliseum has undergone approximately $2.5 million in improvements in recent years.
The athletics department has taken out some seats to make room for more seating for the handicapped, and also renovations in certain areas forced the need to eliminate some seating. The capacity of the building now sits at nearly 9,900.
Cassell Coliseum today ranks as one of the most difficult places for opposing teams to play and is considered one of the best home environments in all of college sports.
675 Washington Street, SW
Blacksburg, Va. 24061