Long before “The Phog” was a college basketball monument, it was just another project for Warren Corman.
At 26-years-old, Corman was one of the original architectural minds behind the most famous building in Lawrence. Before it broke ground, Corman remembers it as an idea from then head coach Phog Allen to one-up the Kansas State basketball program.
“Phog Allen was so mad because they got a field house and he was still stuck in old Hoch Auditorium,” Corman said. “He finally talked the legislature into funding this and said, ‘I want [a venue] twice as big as Ahearn.’ Ahearn was 90-thousand square feet, this is 180, so instead of seating 12-thousand, we made it seat 17-thousand.”
In those seats is where Corman has spent the last 25 years with Stanely Rolfe on game days. The pair, who met as backyard neighbors years before they were seated next to each other, continue to bond over the game day experience.
“We get pretty loud and at times think we know more than the referees,” Rolfe said. “But they don’t pay much attention to us. It’s just exciting, its a fun time and a fun atmosphere.”
Since its opening 62 years ago, “The Phog” has hosted a number historical games, but the pair can’t choose one as a favorite. But Corman knows without the game, the Fieldhouse would be just another building.
“It’s intimate—it’s not huge like the Sprint Center—it’s not fancy,” Corman said. “Your knees hit the guys in front of you and all that. But you come here to watch basketball, you don’t come here for socializing.”
As another dominant Jayhawk basketball season marches on, two friends admire a landmark for college basketball.