Originally constructed in 1955, the arena was officially rededicated prior to the 2003-04 campaign as "Charles Koch Arena, Home of Devlin Court" following a multi-million dollar renovation. Its rebirth coincided with a similar renaissance for the Wichita State men's basketball program. The 2003-04 season was the inaugural season of Charles Koch Arena - the 10,500-seat arena which Shocker fans know as the home venue for Wichita State basketball and volleyball competition.
For 47 years the arena, previously known as Levitt Arena, was home to men’s basketball games, and for 19 seasons, it was home to volleyball before the $25-million renovation campaign - ”Roundhouse Renaissance” - began in March 2001.
Wichita State University's two-year "Roundhouse Renaissance" campaign came to fruition Dec. 20, 2003 as WSU dedicated Charles Koch Arena in front of a sold out crowd (10,512) at halftime of its men’s basketball game against rival Tulsa.
"Roundhouse Renaissance is the most significant administrative event in the history of the program," said former Wichita State Director of Athletics Jim Schaus, the driving force behind reconstruction. "It changed the face of the program forever. Every aspect of athletic department changed overnight, from recruiting, attendance at events and fund raising, to fan enthusiasm and staff morale.
"It has been a major factor in elevating Wichita State to another level. It is wonderful to have new buildings, but it still comes down to people, and how these facilities are changing the lives of our student-athletes, fans from around the region, the entire campus, staff and so many others."
Charles Koch Arena opened in the fall of 2003, and the first event inside the new facility was the fourth-annual Green Mill Restaurant Shocker Volleyball Classic (pictured left) on Sept. 12-13, 2003. Charles Koch Arena was dedicated Dec. 20, 2003 when Wichita State defeated long-time rival Tulsa.
The 2002-03 season marked the first time in 47 years that Wichita State did not play its home basketball games on campus as Roundhouse Renaissance was turning the once-futuristic arena at the corner of 21st and Hillside into the new Charles Koch Arena.
The plan, which was announced in October 2000, and began in March 2002, addressed the primary facility needs of the Shockers’ Athletic Department with the Henry Levitt Athletic Complex, which includes the Charles Koch Arena and Devlin Court, the Taylor Concourse, the Preferred Health Systems Multi Purpose Center, Geist Student Services Building, the Downing Academic Learning Center and the Via Christi Sports Medicine Complex.
“This is a defining moment in the history of Wichita State,” Beggs said at the announcement. “The project will redesign and redefine the future of the WSU community, and will compliment the City of Wichita’s business, cultural and social heart.”
Initial pledges totaled nearly $13 million, which included a $6 million gift from Koch Industries, Inc., in honor of Koch Industries Chairman and CEO Charles Koch, and funding for the project has reached levels higher than the initial pledges. The lead gift represented the largest single gift in the history of the company, as well as the largest single gift received by the University.
Charles Koch said this gift was not only for the University, but also for the community.
“WSU is part of the Wichita community, and the Wichita community is part of WSU,” Koch said. “We are proud to be a partner in this exciting new era of Wichita State University athletics.”
Three families were also instrumental in making an initial gift to the project, including the Tom and Myra Devlin Family, $2.75 million; Bob and Maura Geist, $2.75 million; and Barry and Paula Downing, $1 million. Several additional families have also made considerable contributions to the project.
In a November 2001, announcement, Dan and Kate Taylor’s $1 million contribution to Roundhouse Renaissance also allowed for the naming of the renovated arena’s concourse for the longtime University’s supporters.
“Henry Levitt was honored by the naming of the arena in 1969, and we continue to honor his name in a more expansive manner befitting his commitment to Wichita State,” Beggs said. “It was also critical to create new naming opportunities in order to effectively finance this project.”
The initiative’s outcome is a diversified area of support which benefits all 15 Wichita State University intercollegiate athletic sport programs, and provides a better venue for university and community events and activities.
Originally constructed in 1955 at a cost of $1.4 million, the $25-million reconstruction again placed Wichita State at the top of the conference for facilities.
The 10,400-seat arena was considered futuristic because of its circular design. It is regarded as an excellent facility for spectator viewing because of its sight lines and the close proximity of fans to the court.
Charles Koch Arena, as Levitt Arena was before it, is recognized around the Missouri Valley Conference and the nation for the homecourt advantage that boisterous WSU fans provide the Shockers.
During the 47 seasons the Shockers called the arena home, WSU fashioned a 502-183 record in Levitt Arena, a .734 percentage.
Wichita State men’s basketball kept up that history, winning 11 games in 2003-04, and playing host to the first postseason basketball competition since the 1988-89 season.
Wichita State men's basketball has averaged better than 8,000 fans a game in all but 10 of the last 38 seasons and annually ranks at the top of the MVC in attendance. More than 5.7 million fans poured through the gates to view basketball in the 48 years the arena has been WSU’s home court.
During 19 seasons Wichita State volleyball has played in Charles Koch Arena, the Shockers have fashioned a 125-91-1 record.
Originally known as the Roundhouse for 13 years, the arena was rededicated Jan. 17, 1969, in honor of the late Henry Levitt, a civic leader in Wichita and a noted friend and supporter of WSU.
Upper level donors can enjoy the benefits of the Champions Club, while visitors are also treated to a 10-foot high, 270-foot long concourse mural that features great moments and individuals in Shockers history. The concourse also contains a Shocker merchandise store and Pizza Hut Shocker Shocker Sports History Museum.
Home to the WSU-ICAA offices, Charles Koch Arena has been the site of many concerts and special events, including Jesse Jackson; Spike Lee; Dick Vitale; Elvis Presley; Chicago; Rick Springfield; Willie Nelson; Foreigner; the Oak Ridge Boys; Ray Charles; Neil Diamond; Peter, Paul and Mary; Simon and Garfunkel; The Eagles; Bob Hope and numerous NBA and WNBA exhibition games.
Perhaps the most special night in the arena’s history came on Nov. 28, 1970, when it was the site of a live television production, “Night of Stars,” which raised money for the families of plane crash victims involving both Wichita State’s and Marshall’s football programs.
Numerous stars were on hand, including master of ceremonies Monty Hall, Bill Cosby, Leif Erickson, Phil Ford, Mimi Hines, George Gobel, Humble Pie, Marilyn Maye, Minnie Pearl, Lou Rawls and Kate Smith.
Seven times Wichita State has been the host of NCAA tournament play in its arena, including two years -- 1964 and 1981 -- when Wichita State played on its home floor.
Some of the biggest names in the history of college basketball passed through Wichita in previous NCAA tournament action on their way to basketball immortality.
The 1964 Midwest Regional featured great coaches like Tex Winter from Kansas State, Don Haskins of Texas Western (now UTEP) and Ralph Miller from WSU, in addition to All-America players Dave Stallworth (WSU) and Paul Silas (Creighton).
In 1966, the Houston Cougars, coached by Guy Lewis and led by Elvin Hayes, passed through along with Texas Western and Oklahoma City’s Abe Lemons. Houston and the “Big E” returned in 1968 to face Wes Unseld and Butch Beard of Louisville and another Tex Winter coached Kansas State.
In 1971, Ted Owens brought Dave Robisch, Bud Stallworth, and the rest of his Kansas Jayhawks to Wichita to face the Austin Carr- led Notre Dame squad and Maury John’s Drake team. Alex English led South Carolina to the arena in 1973, while another future pro, Danny Vranes, and his Utah Utes stopped by in 1978 to challenge Norm Stewart’s Missouri Tigers and Ray Meyer’s DePaul Blue Demons.
The 1981 event featured one of the great games in Wichita State history. That year the “Bookend Forwards”--Antoine Carr and Cliff Levingston--and senior guard Randy Smithson carried the Shockers to a stunning come-from-behind win over Iowa.
In addition to NCAA action, from 1955-60, the arena was home to the Wichita Vickers, the 1959 AAU champions. It was also the site of the Kansas-Illinois all-star games in 1979 and 1980, and the McDonald’s Classic all-star game in 1981, which featured future Shocker Aubrey Sherrod and Michael Jordan.
The arena has also been the site of numerous high school and junior college basketball games, including the 1992-98, 2006-11, 2014-15 NJCAA Region VI tournaments and the 1992-94, 2011-15 Kansas Class 6A State High School Championships.
Although not in the arena, Wichita State also played host to the 1994 NCAA First/Second Round of the NCAA Tournament at the Kansas Coliseum, an event which featured Michigan, UMass, Maryland, Pepperdine, St. Louis, SW Texas State and Western Kentucky. NCAA First/Second Round of the women's basketball NCAA Tournament in 2011 at INTRUST Bank Arena and scheduled to host 2018 NCAA men's basketball First/Second Round at IBA.
Charles Koch Arena is recognized around the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) for its homecourt advantage that boisterous Wichita State fans provide the Shockers.