In its first 25 years alone, Emens Auditorium had more than 3.6 million visitors. Emens Auditorium recently underwent renovations that expanded the foyer and the greenery around it. Rachel Ellis, DN
Emens Auditorium: A president's dream
Editor's note: In honor of the university's centennial year, The Daily News is counting down 100 days to the university's celebration Sept. 6 with 100 of Ball State's most famous traditions and figures. Check back each day to read about Cardinal history.
The opening of John R. Emens College-Community Auditorium began as a dream of the university’s sixth president and the auditorium’s eventual namesake, John R. Emens.
Planning for the auditorium began as early as 1947, but construction did not begin until 1961. In March 1964, the auditorium saw its first performance, Fred Waring & his Pennsylvanians, and was officially dedicated in October.
The structure includes Emens Auditorium, the Hargreaves Music Building, Arts and Communications Building and University Theatre.
In its first 25 years, more than 3.6 million people visited the nearly $3 million auditorium, which then sat 3,581. Performances on the Emens stage range from Stevie Wonder to David Copperfield to the Les Miserables cast.
In the past couple of years, notable performances include Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, John Mellencamp, Jesse McCartney and Justin Moore. Students even camped out to get tickets to some performances.
Beginning in the summer of 2016, the auditorium underwent an expansion and revitalization project. The project added 12,000 square feet to the building in the form of a larger lobby, additional bathrooms and concessions.
“The lobby was very utilitarian and small. Not unusual for the time in the 60s when the venue was built, but it didn’t really meet contemporary standards,” Bob Myers, director of John R. Emens college community auditorium and Pruis Hall said in 2017.
The new lobby features an extended vestibule with three box office windows and a handicap bathroom. Additionally, a hospitality suite was added to the second floor.
In addition to the indoor construction, the Emens front lawn underwent construction to attach it to the Campus Master Plan’s East Mall.