The George Albert Smith Fieldhouse, built in 1951, has been busy ever since its opening. Students were constantly filling the space for dances, devotionals, sports games, and concerts.
After years of inadequate sports facilities, BYU fans were very pleased when the university announced construction of the Smith Fieldhouse. The Smith Fieldhouse, named after former apostle George Albert Smith, was opened in 1951. The building was constructed to provide space for the men’s basketball team and their games, which had previously been hosted in off-campus courts. Soon, the building became the backdrop for many of the students’ most cherished memories.
The Smith Fieldhouse hosted a wide range of social activities for BYU students, especially in its first 30 years. In 1958, students were constantly traversing down campus to the Smith Fieldhouse for a wide range of activities and events. The Banyan Ball was held that year, where Shirley Robinson was crowned as Banyan queen. A Fite Nite, where BYU students who pronounced themselves as boxers and wrestlers took part in “intramural sponsored fisticuffs.” Also that year, someone wished to stir up trouble. An unidentified assailant broke into the Smith Fieldhouse and stole the Y Bell held in the facility, causing quite an uproar. In 1959, the Globetrotters played the Baltimore Rockets in the fieldhouse, drawing a roaring crowd. The Smith Fieldhouse also housed debates, including one in 1960 entitled “How Well do Labor Unions Serve the Public Interest?” In one case, the Smith Fieldhouse hosted a trial, albeit not a legal one. In 1956, Officials held a trial against the Gold-bricker social unit, which functioned similarly to a fraternity. Several complaints were lodged against the Gold-brickers which included harmful hazing initiations such as dropping pledges off in the mountains in the middle of winter to find their way home.
The Smith Fieldhouse also held concerts and other events. Some performances included the Salt Lake Tabernacle Choir, the Chicago Symphony, and the Carpenters. In 1973, BYU had a “French week” where a flea market “with a French accent,” sponsored by the French club and the Married Students, was held in the Smith Fieldhouse. In 1987, a Pow Wow was held in the Smith Fieldhouse as part of the university’s “Lamanite Week” celebrations. In 1989, when the floor was replaced in the fieldhouse, framed pieces of the old playing floor were being sold as a keepsake for students, a testament to the love many held for the building.
It wasn’t until 1990 that volleyball was first played in the Smith Fieldhouse. As time continued, general use of the Smith Fieldhouse became less varied and more focused on volleyball and other sports rather than events and devotionals. For visiting athletic teams, the Smith Fieldhouse presents a formidable atmosphere due to the fans' cheering and the subsequent noise on the court. This only encourages fans and students, alike, and the Smith Fieldhouse continues to see crowds flock to the building to cheer on BYU.