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Courtesy: CUBuffs.com
Release: August 16, 2003
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By Larry Harwood, University of Colorado
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Colorado's Balch Fieldhouse was officially opened in 1937, and it quickly proved to be a successful conclave for the basketball Buffs. In the first year in the building, known simply as the CU Fieldhouse in the early years, Colorado went an undefeated 6-0 at home including a 43-38 victory over Denver to christen the building.

Playing principally an area schedule back then (the Buffs didn't join the Big Eight until 1948), CU also beat Colorado State, Wyoming, Colorado Mines, Colorado A&M (State) and Colorado College in its own confines that season.

The building, covering 37,050 square feet and made primarily of stone and concrete, was built at a cost of $174,500. It was worth every dollar, because in the first six years of operation, the Forrest (Frosty) Cox-coached Buffs recorded a 45-2 home mark.

The men's basketball team's all-time record in Balch is 298-115 (.718). Balch was also home to the women's basketball team from its inception in the 1974-75 season through the 1978-79 season, recording a 34-22 (.607) record and going a perfect 10-0 in Balch in 1978-79. Balch was also home to gymnastics and wrestling until those sports were cut in 1981 and continues to be used today for indoor track, which annually hosts the Potts Invitational as well as a few other home dates each year. The women's volleyball team played its first few seasons in Balch (1986-88) and recorded a 10-14 record there.

In the '50s, the capacity of Balch peaked at about 7,000, but was gradually cut back to house a comfortable 4,000 for the men's basketball team. It had the appearance of a cozy barn but was more like a madhouse for visiting teams, especially when the standing-room-only crowds voiced deafening support for the Buffs. The opponents could barely hear themselves think.

The home-court advantage continued into the Bill Blair era. The showman loved the boisterous fans and went as far to say: "When the students support us, the filedhouse is a great place to play. When we have the new place, I'd love to play every home game in the old place and recruit to the new place. We get those students in there and it's the greatest place in the world."

In 1976-77, the building's name was changed to Balch Fieldhouse, in honor of Roland E. Balch (pictured right), a long-time member of the athletic and physical education departments. The late "Doc" Balch coached the swimming team from 1949-61 and became one of the most popular members of the athletic staff.

After his discharge from the Navy, which originally brought him to Colorado as an athletic officer for a unit attached to the University, he remained as CU's athletic trainer, hence the nickname. He later headed the P.E. department's service programs under Harry Carlson.

The biggest change made in the building for the basketball teams was in the early '70s, when the hardcourt was changed from a wooden surface to a tartan surface.

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