From the Archives: UNO’s Sapp Fieldhouse then and now

A lot has changed in the Sapp Fieldhouse from Feb. 14, 1953, left, and Feb. 15, 2012. In 1953, Creighton won over the Omaha University 89-80. In 2012, UNO defeated Nebraska-Kearney 85-68. LEFT: UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA AT OMAHA ARCHIVES. RIGHT: CHRIS MACHIAN/THE WORLD-HERALD

The UNO men’s basketball team’s time at the Lee and Helene Sapp Fieldhouse came to close Feb. 15 in a victory over the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Next season, the Mavericks will play in the new Ralston arena. (Click here to see a slideshow of the new arena under construction.) UNO brought back several former players and honored them during the game.

 

UNO's Caleb Steffensmeier takes a shot against Nebraska-Kearney. Click on the photo to launch a slideshow of the game. CHRIS MACHIAN/THE WORLD-HERALD

 

The first game at the fieldhouse was held Feb. 23, 1950, against crosstown rival Creighton. The Bluejays won 60-46. Creighton was a regular opponent for UNO (then known as Omaha University), and the Jays own the all-time series with 32-3.

 

Lloyd Rathburn, city building engineer, assists with the weight testing of the telescoping bleachers at UNO Fieldhouse on Feb. 22, 1950, before the first game. THE WORLD-HERALD

 

One of the more memorable games for Omaha University came on Feb. 24, 1955. OU won 95-86 over a Creighton team that had future baseball hall of famer Bob Gibson.

Omaha University's Stan Schaetzle fools Creighton's Bob Gibson as he drives to the basket. THE WORLD-HERALD

According to Les Valentine, archivist at the Criss Library at UNO, Chancellor Milo Bail gave students the next day off to celebrate.

 

Fans enjoy a game at Sapp Fieldhouse in 1953. UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA AT OMAHA ARCHIVES

 

The UNO men’s team used the facility for 62 years and boasted a record crowd of  5,200 fans in 1979.

 

Omaha University's Phil Gradoville, Rockhurst's Dan Klein and OU's Dick Siekman go for a loose ball on Feb. 25, 1958. KEN ZIMMERMAN/THE WORLD-HERALD

 

This year also marked a new beginning for UNO. While the Mavs are leaving Sapp Fieldhouse, they began the era of Division I play. UNO’s volleyball and the women’s basketball teams will still use the facility. Click here to see more photos of the fieldhouse and a look at former players honored during the final game.

 

A ticket for the last men's game at Sapp Fieldhouse.

UNO's Mitch Albers is the last UNO player to leave the floor after the Mavs beat Nebraska-Kearney at the Sapp Fieldhouse on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012. It was the final game for the UNO men at the fieldhouse before moving to a new arena in Ralston. CHRIS MACHIAN/THE WORLD-HERALD

 

The World-Herald library has many more historic photos. If you are interested in purchasing these or other photos, please visit the OWH Store.

A special thanks goes to Jolene McHugh, the normal author of the “From the Archives” for graciously letting a UNO alumus write this piece and for helping to scan many of the images you see.

Chris Machian

About Chris Machian

I was born in Omaha, graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha with a journalism degree in 2004 and have spent most of my life here. I was a photo intern with the Omaha World-Herald in 2003 and had various roles with the company before becoming a staff photographer. I love to shoot UNO hockey and last year placed video and still cameras inside the goal to provide our readers with another unique perspective. My goal is to use available technology in ways that help our readers understand the stories we cover. For instance, in 2011 I used Gigapan technology to provide a wide view of flooded areas while allowing users to zoom in on the smaller details. My love of this job extends beyond disasters and sporting events; I also enjoy covering the events that help define Omaha's cultural landscape.
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