COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Officially, it is called the William P. Cole Jr. Student Activities Building. But most know it as Cole Field House.
It was the former home for the basketball team at the University of Maryland. There were also concerts – even Elvis Presley played here – and commencements through the years.
“The thing that we loved about Cole, as soon you came through that tunnel, the place exploded for these guys, and you could look at the faces of the other team saying, ‘What are we in for tonight with this kind of atmosphere?’” said Johnny Holliday, the play-by-play voice for the University of Maryland.
But the Cole as we knew is now history. The school is building a new complex to house an indoor football facility.
It took workers two weeks to move 4,500 pairs of seats to a warehouse in Laurel. Now, history is for sale at $400 a pair.
The task of selling them off goes to a Terp – 1991 graduate Fernando Palacios. He is heading up the auction.
“Cole Field House was great,” said Palacios. “Only four bathrooms in the whole arena. The heat always ran about 110 degrees in there. I wish we could keep these seats and keep them in Cole, but with the new football facility going in there, I think it’s time to pull them out.”
Cole Field House became a home court advantage for coaches Lefty Driesell and Gary Williams. The latter had the arena seats painted red when he arrived.
The Terps won their only NCAA basketball title in their final year at Cole in 2002 and Williams left with quite a legacy.
“He has more wins over No. 1 teams in Cole Field House than any other school in any other arena in the country,” said Holliday. “Seven times he knocked off No. 1 teams.”
But two of the biggest games at Cole took place in the 60s. In 1965, a high school game featuring New York's Power Memorial and led by a player named Lew Alcindor – now known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – came to College Park riding a 71-game winning streak. But DeMatha and Hall of Fame coach Morgan Wootten pulled off the upset by a score of 46-43.
The next year in 1966, Texas Western became the first team with an all-black starting lineup to win an NCAA title as they upset Kentucky, 72-65.
The victory broke down social barriers, and just this past week, players from that team returned to College Park for the 50th anniversary of that game.
Willie Worsley, one of the guards for that legendary team, has something in mind the next time he comes back.
“As soon as its completed and there’s a football, I’m going to come to the 50-yard-line dribbling my basketball,” he said. “They are going to have to kick me out of there. Between my legs and behind my back, I’m going to do all those crazy things.”
Cole 2.0 is set to be finished in 2018. But no Maryland fan will ever forget what the first Cole Field House provided – almost a half century worth of memories.
For more information about the items up for auction at Cole Field House, go to www.colefieldhouse.com.