With all the successes enjoyed by the men’s and women’s basketball teams this season, one important milestone has gone almost unnoticed by students: This season marks the 20th anniversary of Bramlage Coliseum.
Through the years, the building has been known to fans by many names, including “The Pit” (for its sunken floor seating), “The Fred” (short for Fred Bramlage, the eponymous lead donor), and “Purple Octagon of Doom” (in honor of the coliseum’s eight walls and raucous atmosphere).
According to the K?State athletics Web site, k-statesports.com, Bramlage was constructed during a two-year period, from fall 1986 to summer 1988. Construction costs totaled $17.2 million, $7 million of which was financed by students.
Jim Muller, manager of operations at Bramlage, said the athletics department honors the students’ generosity by providing numerous campus jobs.
“The coliseum has always endeavored to maintain a heavy load of student workers to provide student jobs,” Muller said. “That was part of our mission; the students put up funding for the building, and so we return that to them through student jobs. We average about 400 to 500 students a year working for us, including security, custodial, parking operations, ushers and ticket takers.”
Muller has worked at the coliseum since its opening in 1988. He said he has seen many different teams, building renovations and the installation of two new basketball floors since the original.
“We’re on the third year of our third floor,” Muller said. “The average age for each floor is five to six years. In that time each floor will be refinished one to three times. In order to change the logo or paint scheme, you have to scrape the surface, and as we sand it down to bare wood, we take some of the life of the floor out.”
Bramlage plays hosts to 55-60 large-scale events each year, Muller said. Coliseum workers must be ready to disassemble and reassemble the floor for the 34 home basketball contests, in addition to tournaments, graduation ceremonies, Landon Lectures, concerts, career fairs and comedians that use Bramlage in an average year.
“It was built originally as a multi-purpose venue,” he said. “Part of the mission given to us by the university was to host multiple types of events, which dictated that we have a portable floor. The basketball court takes about four-and-a-half to five hours to disassemble with about 20 workers and approximately five to five-and-a-half hours to reassemble. We have to reinstall all of the telephone wiring, court-side electrical wiring, data cords for court-side statistic monitors (there are thirteen such monitors for reporters watching the game), lines for Internet use, and various servers for ESPN and other folks.”
In addition to moving the court on or off the floor of Bramlage, cleaning the facility between events can be an equally arduous task.
“Cleanup can take three hours following a women’s game to six hours following a big men’s game,” he said. “In addition to that, we have crews working throughout the day finishing up. The job is never done between games. We are always tidying up and preparing for the next game so when people come into the building it’s event-ready.”
No matter what event is scheduled next in Bramlage, Muller said students play a part in the operation of the facility, now and in the future.
“We’re very interested in being part of the educational process of the university,” Muller said. “Our student jobs give real-world experience to be used when students apply for their first jobs. Some of our students who have worked here continue to come back and let us know how much they appreciated the experience.”