Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion - 'Home of the Bears'
Located on Northern Colorado's west campus, Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion serves as "The Home of the Bears." Named for longtime Northern Colorado coaches Pete Butler and John Hancock, Butler-Hancock Hall opened its doors Feb. 4, 1975, with a basketball doubleheader; the Northern Colorado women played Wyoming, while the men played host to Air Force.
The building was renamed the Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion during the 2004-05 school year and still serves as home for both the men's and women's basketball programs, as well as the Northern Colorado women's volleyball and wrestling teams.
As Northern Colorado begins its Big Sky Conference Era in 2006-07, the building is entering its 33rd year and saw its biggest changes occur in summer 2006. As part of a $16 million dollar student fee referendum, the building received a much needed makeover. New chair back seats were installed along with a new sound system and a message and scoreboard center to go along with renovated restrooms, a ticket center and entrance. After the installation of chair back seats, the building's seating capacity went from 4,500 to 2,941, creating a much more intimate feeling for spectators.
The basketball program will also benefit from a newly built practice facility which is attached to the University's Campus Recreation Center and located outside Butler-Hancock's walls. The facility will allow student-athletes 24-7 access to the building. The building is slated to be completed in early 2007.
"The newly-renovated Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion will be a tremendous benefit to our basketball program in many ways," said Bears head coach Tad Boyle. "First and foremost our fans will now have a comfortable and intimate environment to watch college basketball up-close and personal. There truly will not be a bad seat in the building. The most important part of all the renovations is the practice facility. It will allow our student-athletes the opportunity to have a place to workout year-round in order to improve themselves and ultimately improve our basketball program." The fans that enter the building in 2006-07 will see a full slate of eight Big Sky Conference games, beginning with Weber State on Dec. 28, as well as in-state rivals Denver and Air Force play in the building. Oregon State will also play in the building, marking the first Pac-10 team to play in Greeley since Jan. 5, 1960, when the Bears topped Arizona 82-73. In fact Northern Colorado is 2-0 all-time against Pac-10 teams in Greeley, topping Stanford 32-24 in 1932.
Butler-Hancock has been the site of numerous memorable events. Northern Colorado has played host to regional volleyball tournaments in 1981, 1989, 1990 and 2002, a regional men's basketball tournament in 1989 and a regional women's basketball game in 1995. Butler-Hancock was also the site of the 1992, 1996 and 2001 NCAA Division II National Wrestling Championships. In summer 2002, Butler-Hancock hosted a men's Olympic volleyball exhibition match between the United States and Korean national teams. The Harlem Globetrotters have also played inside Butler-Hancock.
The highlight of the Division II era was the 1989 NCAA Regional Championship, the first NCAA postseason for the Bears since the 1966 season. Northern Colorado finished the regular season with a 23-5 overall record (the most regular season wins ever for a NCC team at that time), a 14-4 North Central Conference mark and a No. 11 national ranking.
That earned the team the right to host Augustana, Alaska-Fairbanks and Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the two-day event. Behind 26 points from All-American Mike Higgins, Northern Colorado pulled away from a halftime tie to top Alaska-Fairbanks 92-70 for the opportunity to meet Wisconsin-Milwaukee (who had defeated Augustana 99-95) for the chance to go to the NCAA Elite 8. The Bears led UW-Milwaukee by three points with 20 seconds remaining, but a 3-pointer sent the contest into overtime and a jumper with 10 seconds left in the extra period sealed the fate for Northern Colorado, which lost 89-88 in front of a still-record crowd of 4,674.
In the 2001-02 season, Northern Colorado upset No. 3-ranked and defending Division II National Champion Metro State by a margin of 80-71. During the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons, the Bears ran off a streak of 10 consecutive victories in front of their home faithful. In 2003-04, 1,576 fans saw the Bears battle Utah Valley State (Jan. 17), the largest crowd at home since the 1989 season (when 2,003 fans saw UNC battle South Dakota State.) The Bears were able to top that in 2004-05, when 3,311 fans - the sixth largest crowd in the building's history - came to see the Bears battle the University of Denver in a game broadcast on the Altitude Sports & Entertainment network.
Larger crowds continued to fill the building in 2005-06, as the Bears hosted in-state rival Colorado State for the first time since 1956 (when the teams played across campus in Gunter Hall - the former home of the basketball program). For that game, 4,351 fans entered Butler-Hancock to see a good contest that CSU came out on top of by a 70-57 margin. Colorado State and Northern Colorado plan to continue a yearly home-and-home series.
Another in-state rival, Air Force, will return to play in Butler-Hancock for the first time in several decades on Dec. 23. The Falcons will be playing in Greeley for the first time since March 1, 1978.
Top 10 Butler-Hancock Crowds
1. 4,674 vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee (3/18/89)
2. 4,429 vs. Augustana (2/23/89)
3. 4 351 vs. Colorado State (11/18/05)
4. 4,013 vs. Alaska-Farbanks (3/17/89)
5. 3,875 vs. South Dakota State (2/7/89)
6. 3,586 vs. Air Force (2/4/75)
7. 3,311 vs. Denver (2/7/05)
8. 3,104 vs. South Dakota (1/19/89)
9. 2,932 vs. Metro State (12/5/86)
10. 2,903 vs. Nebraska-Omaha (1/21/89)
UNC Year-by-Year at Butler-Hancock
Year Record Pct. 1974-75 4-1 .800 1975-76 8-3 .727 1976-77 6-3 .667 1977-78 9-5 .643 1978-79 5-6 .455 1979-80 6-5 .545 1980-81 4-7 .364 1981-82 9-2 .818 1982-83 7-5 .583 1983-84 3-8 .273 1984-85 13-1 .929 1985-86 9-5 .643 1986-87 10-2 .833 1987-88 10-3 .769 1988-89 15-2 # .882 1989-90 7-6 .538 1990-91 2-10 .167 1991-92 12-4 .750 1992-93 8-5 .615 1993-94 6-7 .462 1994-95 7-6 .538 1995-96 5-7 .417 1996-97 5-8 .385 1997-98 10-3 .769 1998-99 6-6 .500 1999-00 5-7 .417 2000-01 7-5 .583 2001-02 9-3 .750 2002-03 5-6 .455 2003-04 4-5 .444 2004-05 7-4 .636 2005-06 5-7 .417 Total 228-152 .600