Crimetracker: thieves caught inside old arena

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The Stokely Athletics Center once housed legends, but now it sits empty and often goes unnoticed.

That is, until a few burglars decided to drop by.

UT Police say that five people were caught inside the old arena early Sunday morning after a motion alarm went off.

Police are not releasing many details right now about the crime.

But when Gus Manning heard about the incident, he asked, what is left to steal? Anything of significance was taken out of the building when the remaining offices closed.

"I don't know what's in there that they'd wanna steal you know. Why anybody would wanna go in there and steal anything," said Manning.

The police report says the five thieves took UT licensed apparel, and damaged property to break in to the facility.

They were all arrested and charged with theft of property more than $500 and burglary.

Manning says it's hard to believe that an arena that has hosted so many big games and concerts has been reduced to a crime scene.

"Which was a spectacular basketball arena, as far as spectators they were right on top of everything you know," said Manning.

It's been years since the last basket, and now only memories and highlights are left behind.

But Gus Manning remembers much more. He was hired by General Neyland himself, and was in Stokely for the first game against West Virginia and Jerry West.

"He wore uniform number 44, and he scored 44 points, so he got a great start here at the old arena," said Manning.

Manning's worn a lot of hats in a lot of offices, and one of them was inside Stokely.

"Seen some great games at Stokely Center, some great individual players. Some great coaches that have been there," said Manning.

It was a mecca in the winter months. Now he can't understand why years later, people would try to steal from it, especially when almost everything essential is out of the building.

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