Facilites & Directions
It is rare in the world of college basketball that an opponent looks forward to playing a game on the road more than at home. But for the opponents of the Harding Lady Bisons, a trip to the Rhodes Field House is often the highlight of their season. Home of the famous Rhodes Rowdies, Harding’s Rhodes Field House is one of the premier basketball arenas in the South. Bison fans regularly pack the facility and hold five of the top 10 single-game attendance marks in Gulf South Conference history despite only seven years in the league.
The Rhodes Field House contains modern, well-equipped dressing rooms for the Bisons, Lady Bisons and visiting teams and officials. A suite of offices serves four coaches, secretarial staff, and intramurals. Approximately sixty percent of the 3,000 seats are permanent and chair back seats and reserved seating are available on the west side. The floor level seats are retractable which allow space for the two cross courts. Those courts are utilized for both intercollegiate practice and intramural games. As the home for Lady Bison volleyball, there is a primary court that seats the maximum number of fans and with the floor level seats retracted, there are two additional courts available for intramural play.Additional rooms for weight training and laundry equipment are built into the facility.
Rhodes Field House was home court for the basketball Bisons from 1957 until 1976, when the Ganus Athletic Center opened. The Ganus Athletic Center served both teams for twenty-one years until the Rhodes was renovated in 1997.
The World War II airplane hanger that became Rhodes Field House was designed and made for an airfield in France and bought as war surplus by Dr. George Benson. It was erected on the campus in 1949 for $124,000. At the time, Rhodes was a coach’s dream that produced a real home court advantage. It replaced the original campus gym better known as the “crackerbox gym.” This original campus gym was small enough to fit inside a regulation basketball court. In the early years, Rhodes was usually packed and loud which gave it a “big time” atmosphere.
For a growing student body of 600 plus, it was not only adequate, it was super. There were no athletic teams at Harding, only classes, intramural and “free play” occupied Rhodes Memorial. In 1952, Harding Academy started boys basketball and in 1957, the Bisons began playing intercollegiate games and the student body continued to grow. By the late 1960’s, Rhodes was inadequate and the Ganus Center was planned.
In the early 1990’s, Harding’s enrollment passed the 4,000 mark. Harding Academy moved into its own new Harris Gym but continued intramural and free play demands prompted President Burks and the administration to make decisions relative to space needs. Rhodes was and is a campus landmark that holds special memories for many so tearing it down and rebuilding met opposition.
Since the Ganus Center is an ideal intramural facility, the decision was made to renovate Rhodes for intercollegiate basketball and volleyball. It also serves as an intramural game gymnasium while the bulk of intramurals and free play was moved to the Ganus Athletic Center. B.F. Rhodes will continue to be honored. A founding faculty member in 1924, the former history professor died in 1947. Rhodes was a popular figure around campus and a man who was very interested in all student activities. He was frequently seen at campus athletic activities, always encouraging the participants.