- Associated Press - Monday, January 27, 2014

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) - A memorial to the 1977 plane crash that killed all members of the University of Evansville men’s basketball team is now in place inside the city’s downtown arena.

Hundreds of people gathered Sunday for the unveiling of the 1977 Aces Basketball Memorial Wall at the Ford Center.

The display spans an entire wall and features pictures of the players and coaches who died, along with newspaper headlines and reactions to the crash, the Evansville Courier & Press reported (http://bit.ly/1b0M1x2 ).

Then-assistant coach Stafford Stephenson, who wasn’t traveling with the team when the crash happened, attended the ceremony and said he was overwhelmed by the memorial.


“It is a remarkable, remarkable exhibit, and as so many people said, the whole purpose is that we won’t forget,” Stephenson said. “As I get older, I won’t forget. Others in generations to come will (remember), as well.”

The December 1977 crash killed 29 people, including all 14 members of the Purple Aces basketball team, shortly after takeoff from Evansville Dress Regional Airport.

The crash memorial that was in the old Roberts Stadium was taken down after it was closed in 2011 and the university’s basketball teams moved their home court to the new downtown Ford Center.

Memorabilia from families and friends packed the Roberts Stadium showcase, but organizers wanted a bigger display at the new arena, said Kathy Kleindorfer, chairman of the Corridor of Champions/Roberts Stadium Foundation.

“We didn’t have the funding to do it during phase one,” Kleindorfer said. “We wanted it to be separate and special. We’ve been working on it for three years.”

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Information from: Evansville Courier & Press, http://www.courierpress.com