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Rutgers Trea$ure Hunter: Prophecy from the past

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In looking at some football programs from 1971, we came across a reference to....a Multi-Purpose Field House. Now what's that all about?

Those game day programs from 1971 were highlighting the growth and activity on each of Rutgers' campuses.  But the program from a late November game had something that piqued our interest a bit more than usual.

Hmm, that Canfield drawing on the cover doesn't look like anything we've seen on campus.  Because that hypothetical drawing was just an artist's idea of what could be built when Rutgers took the seed money - all $5 million - from the Higher Education Bond referendum and went to work to build its new athletic center near the stadium. By the way, $5M would be around $29 million today.  Ya get what ya pay for!

The article in the program looked forward to getting down to the details of what would be included and where it would be located, though it seemed pretty clear from the story that it would be somewhere near the stadium, not on Livingston where the RAC is today.

Then-Governor William Cahill had actually allocated state money (be still my heart) for preliminary studies on building a first class facility for basketball.  From the closing paragraphs of that story:

How big, how much, how fast?  No answers yet, but for the first time, it can be stated positively - Rutgers is assured of a new indoor sports facility.

As Gov. Cahill told a television audience last January: "I suggested the absolute need for a new field house."

Then he added: "Any school as large as Rutgers and a State University playing the high type of basketball they are playing today really deserves a forum where their fans can see them.  We ought to be considering something in the neighborhood of 10,000 or 12,000 capacity"

And not only a new arena, this would also include the National Football Foundation's college football hall of fame, which was supposed to be on the Rutgers campus as far back as 1950.  Spoiler Alert: never happened.  For years, though, there was a small store front that passed for the hall of fame on Church Street in New Brunswick.

Wow!  10,000 - 12,000 seats?  By the stadium, no less.  Well, this was 1971.  And the RAC didn't finally open until 1977, a year after Fast Eddie and that team went to the Final Four.   For those with limited math or chronological skills, we had a Final Four team that played its home games at the 2,800 seat Barn on College Avenue.

Not really sure what went wrong or what decisions were made that put the athletic center on Rockafeller Road in Piscataway instead of Sutphen Road.  But changes certainly were made.  But we had a governor in 1971 who supported the State University, and even supported its athletic program.  Ahh, the good ol' days.

National Football Foundation's Hall of Fame

In case you're feeling awful that we never got the HOF here, consider that the National Football Foundation pulled up stakes in New Jersey and headed to the Big Apple when the state Attorney General started investigating it because it was collecting donations but hadn't started building a Hall of Fame.  It left NYC after the New York attorney general did the same.  The first HOF was finally opened in Ohio in 1978, adjacent to King's Island amusement park.  It left there in 1992 with dwindling attendance.  Then it opened in South Bend.  Until attendance dwindled there.  Its latest iteration is in Atlanta, where it opened its new facility last August.