6 March, 2010. Louisville, KY. The University of Louisville team, after many, many years, played its last game in Freedom Hall. I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend by my brother Patrick, who arranged with some of his friends to get some pretty good tickets. My thanks to the ticket holders, who I won't name here without their permission. Our seats were two down from the seat occupied by Rick Patino's wife; right behind the U of L bench some 4 rows back.
I attended every U of L home game while I was attending there. I was in the pep band back then, from 1975 through 1979, so getting tickets was easy. The band sat on the floor behind the north goal, and they sat in the same place at this last game.
At this last game in Freedom Hall UL beat the #1 team in the rankings, Syracuse. UL brought back members of many prior teams. Many of those former team members spoke recalling their accomplishments, and those of many others of the many years, at Freedom Hall. Rick Patino made a farewell speech. Rick kindly pointed out that Freedom Hall was, truly, the house that Denny Crum built. It was the excellence of his teams over all those years that made UL's home court, Freedom Hall, a place other teams dreaded to play. Denny Crum was present and made a farewell speech. (The floor at Freedom Hall was named in his honor, "Denny Crum Court", years ago.)
I've got lots of pictures, but none of them really capture the event and the emotion of it. It was a great day for any U of L fan. I haven't cheered at any game so long and so loudly in a long time. The noise from all of the fans, almost the entire game, was deafening. It was great to be a college student again, if only for a day!
U of L basketball is moving to their new downtown arena next year. Freedom Hall, opened in 1956, will continue to host concerts and many other events. Life goes on.