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IUPUI dedicates sports facility with ‘Championship Tribute’ honoring local basketball legends

March 31, 2015

Join IUPUI as it celebrates the 60th anniversary of the state basketball championship won by Crispus Attucks High School, honors the legendary and long-lost Dust Bowl, and dedicates the new campus recreation outdoor facility, Lockefield Green, as part of “A Championship Tribute” on Wednesday.

Dust Bowl

This aerial view shows the area that houses the Campus Recreation Outdoor Facility and its basketball courts and sand volleyball court (right). The photo also indicates of the site once housing the now-departed Dust Bowl. | PHOTO COURTESY OF UNIVERSITY ARCHITECT’S OFFICE

Tribute activities will include a symposium featuring Robertson, Gipson and Hampton as panelists and the unveiling of a plaque honoring the Dust Bowl -- the Lockefield Gardens basketball court so-named because it was originally a dirt playground. The court became a community hot-spot as the site of pickup games and an annual tournament featuring the best of the city's high school and college-age players.

The event will begin at 3 p.m. with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the outdoor facility, located next to the location of the old Dust Bowl. The event is a dedication for both Lockefield Green and the Dust Bowl, said Tralicia Lewis, assistant vice chancellor for the Division of Student Affairs.

Once the dedication is complete, “Tribute” will move into Hine Hall for a short reception, followed by a symposium to honor the 1955 Attucks Tigers, who won the first state championship ever for an Indianapolis high school and broke down barriers created by segregation in the city.

The symposium is open to the public and will begin at 4 p.m. in the Hine Hall Auditorium. It will include Naismith Hall of Fame player Oscar Robertson, a former U.S. Olympic and NBA star who spent much of his childhood playing games at the Dust Bowl. He’ll be joined by former teammates John Gipson and Bill Hampton, plus Fred Robinson, the president of the Crispus Attucks Alumni Association.

“This event is a way to recognize the history of a part of the city that IUPUI now occupies,” Lewis said. “To honor the legacy the Dust Bowl had for our city is fitting. It was a proving ground for so many players, many of them from Attucks but also from other parts of the city who came to take up the challenge.”

The importance of the old outdoor facility has been lost over time, she added. “I wanted to include the Dust Bowl in the dedication because I want our students to be aware of the history that took place there. These days, so many of our students don’t know who Oscar Robertson was, let alone the role he played in our city’s development,” she added.

The National Sports Journalism Center is co-sponsoring the event, and NSJC director Malcolm Moran is pleased that IUPUI students -- along with community guests who join “A Championship Tribute” activities -- have a chance to learn first-hand about the challenges that Robertson, Gipson, Hampton and their teammates dealt with in the face of racism.

“I believe they will be fascinated by a story that hasn’t really been told in depth,” Moran said. “It’s an opportunity to learn what the lives of these men were like, in their own words. It will be a powerful moment, one to cherish.”

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