By Joanna Chadwick
The days of fans crammed together in the toasty Heights gym are over.
Friday night, Heights will play host to Bishop Carroll in its first game in the Falcons’ new gym, which seats 2,400 fans, 1,200 than the old gym.
There’s a drop-down scoreboard and a walking track around the top of the seats.
“For me, it’s incredibly exciting,” Heights coach Joe Auer said. “You can’t believe that it’s happening. We’ve gone to other places for so long and seen their magnificent facilities, whether they were Derby, Maize, Andover Central. We’re on the outside looking in. And then, thanks to the voters of Wichita, we’re given this opportunity to improve our facilities. It’s been a long time coming.”
And fans who attend the games will be pleased. There’s a scoreboard hanging over the middle of the floor and a walking track behind the top seats.
The gym is spacious and bright, similar to East’s, Carroll’s, Goddard’s and Andover Central’s. Other City League schools — North, South, Southeast and West — thanks to the 2008 bond issue, will be getting the same gyms in the coming years.
“The fans will like the temperature,” Auer said. “Our old gym was hot, even on the coldest day. They’ll enjoy having space.”
Space is a key with the new gym.
Space in seating. Space between the benches and the fans, meaning there won’t be fans walking back and forth right behind the players and coaches.
And space for practice.
The boys and girls teams trade times on who practices on the main floor, just like they did in the past. But the old secondary gym was tiny.
“It’s tremendous,” Heights girls coach Kip Pulliam said of the new gym. “We’re so used to being cramped in the other gym…. Now we can pull down the curtains and have two full practices side by side.”