From the Indiana Destination Development Corporation:
Where is Indiana’s Best High School Gym? After counting over 60,000 votes, Visit Indiana announced today the winners for the special edition Best of Indiana people’s choice campaign. The top three are:
- Spartan Bowl – Connersville High School
- New Castle Fieldhouse – New Castle High School
- Jim Mann Green Dome – West Vigo High School
“In 49 states, basketball is just a game, but in Indiana, it just means more,” said Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch. “After all, the Hoosier State is home to 11 of the 12 largest gyms in America.”
The Spartan Bowl has been dubbed “The Grand Palace on Grand Avenue.” The gym holds 5,134 people and opened on November 25, 1958. The facility is home to the school’s two state championship teams of 1972 and 1983. A few years ago, the original gym floor was replaced, and sound barriers were added to the ceiling, giving the building a unique look. The building was designed by Ralph Legeman, who also constructed the New Castle Fieldhouse, which came in a close second on the list.
The New Castle Fieldhouse is home to the Trojans. The Fieldhouse was constructed through a community formed nonprofit, and in 1959, the New Castle Fieldhouse debuted as the largest high school arena in the world. The gym briefly lost that designation, but in January, New Castle installed 260 telescoping seats on the west concourse and installed 335 additional seats in portable bleachers, increasing its capacity to 8,424. It’s once again the biggest high school gym in the world.
For nearly 60 years, the Jim Mann Green Dome has been the only home to the West Vigo High School Vikings since its inception in 1959. The 2,600-seat venue is of the “sunken gym” style. The gym was renamed after longtime Athletic Director Jim Mann in 2011, who spent 30 years at the school. Another interesting note is that Larry Bird did his student teaching at the high school following the 1978-1979 season with Indiana State University.
“Bragging rights were on the line,” said Elaine Bedel, Secretary & CEO of the Indiana Destination Development Corporation. “This was evident in the special edition of the Best of Indiana high school basketball arenas with 67,579 votes under a four-week period.”