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The University of Alabama Athletics Department renovated and expanded Foster Auditorium to create a new home for the Crimson Tide’s volleyball and women’s basketball programs in 2011.
The restoration of the venerable three-story building was completed in January of 2011 in time for the women’s basketball game between Alabama and Florida on Feb. 13, when the Tide defeated the Gators 64-59.
The remodel of the facility included refurbishing the arena portion of the building with new seating both on the floor level and the second level which overlooks the court, creating an impressive competitive atmosphere for both sports.
“From the outside, Foster is a magnificent building,” head women’s volleyball coach Ed Allen said. “Once you get to the inside you see the quality at which the building was renovated, with the ability to create an intimate environment. Everything was done first class.”
The renovation also included suites for both programs that house the teams’ locker rooms, team areas, meeting and video rooms and coaches’ offices. A weight room and athletics training facilities were also included in the project.
“Foster Auditorium is one of the best volleyball facilities in the country,” Allen said. “It’s going to have a huge impact on our ability to attract the kind of athletes we expect to get at Alabama. For them to see the atmosphere they’re going to play in and how they are going to be taken care of makes the facility vital to our success. The fact that we don’t have to leave the arena to lift weights, practice or play will be enticing to future players at Alabama.”
Originally built in 1939, Foster Auditorium was named in 1942 for Richard Clarke Foster, president of the University of Alabama from 1937-41. It was the largest and most expensive of 14 buildings added to campus between 1936 and 1939 using funds from the Public Works Administration.
In its original capacity, Foster served as home for intramurals sports, graduations, concerts, lectures and campus meetings. It also served as the home of several varsity athletic programs over the years, including the men’s basketball team from 1939-68, women’s basketball, which played a few games in Foster in their inaugural season in 1975, and gymnastics from 1975-84.
In the early years of the Alabama’s volleyball program, the team practiced and competed in Foster. The women’s volleyball program, which began in 1974, played their first 15 seasons (1974-81 and 1989-95) in Foster Auditorium. The program was discontinued from 1982-88. The volleyball program made the move away from Foster before the 1996 season, playing in the main arena of Coleman Coliseum from 1996-99. Beginning with the 2000 campaign, volleyball competed in the Coleman Auxiliary Volleyball Extension (CAVE) to 11 seasons, before returning to Foster Auditorium in 2011.
Additionally, the women’s athletic program, including coaches and administrative offices, was located in Foster during the 1970s through the early 1980s.
Allen added, “Foster is going to create a lot of energy for the team and an atmosphere that fans will want to come back to. Playing in an intimate environment is going to be a huge home court advantage for us and it provides an opportunity to springboard the program. Additionally, it has all the bells and whistles that should help attract top-notch recruits. It was a huge selling point in my decision to come to Alabama.”