Ball State University’s sixth president, John R. Emens (1945-1968), had a dream. He envisioned a “campus of the future” complete with an auditorium “large enough to house most college functions as well as major symphonies, Broadway productions, ballets, and other forms of entertainment for Muncie and east central Indiana audiences.”
Planning for the auditorium began as early as 1947, but the U-shaped building was not actually built until 1961. The structure includes the Hargreeves Music Building, Arts and Communications Building, and the 410-seat University Theatre.
Emens’ dream was finally realized on March 14-15, 1964, when the auditorium gave its first performances in the form of a “sneak preview,” and then it was officially dedicated on Oct. 25 the same year.
In its first 25 years alone, more than 3.6 million people visited the then 3,581-seat auditorium to see 2,335 programs. The legendary acoustic, scalloped ceiling, and state-of-the-art sound capabilities of Emens Auditorium account for the attraction of many artists to performing in this facility.
Since the grand opening in 1964, many world renowned artists, individuals, musicians, and shows have graced the stage of Emens Auditorium. Legendary performances range from Louis Armstrong, David Letterman, Willie Nelson, Stevie Wonder, B.B. King, Bob Dylan, Magician David Copperfield, comedian Adam Sandler, musical Cats and Les Miserables, Red Skelton, Vince Gill, The Temptations, Third Eye Blind, and REO Speedwagon (pictured).