Indiana is home to 27 out of 31 of the largest high school gymnasiums in the country. Many have heard of the “The Hatchet House” or the “Bird Cage” or the Huntingburg Gym. Each of those venues can host thousands but one overlooked gymnasium is the gymnasium at Boonville High School. It is the largest indoor facility in Warrick county. Home of the Boonville High School Pioneers and the boys basketball sectionals each year, the Boonville stadium can hold a crowd of 5,650 basketball fans- about half of what the Ford Center can hold.
Athletic Director Kevin Davis who played for South Spencer a nearby high school states the gym offers a unique atmosphere. Davis states “Our sectional opponents don’t have any type of venue like this, so we are very lucky that the IHSAA allows us to host every boys basketball sectional. So that first week in March our community knows that this place is going to be packed. The town’s gonna have a lot of people coming in, and its very good on our economy. ” The stadium offers some challenges for the school which Davis welcomes and accepts, but the intensity of the crowds boost fan morale and the local economy.
Although, Assistant Athletics Director Jim Miller has a different outlook on the stadium. Jim Miller attended Boonville High School even though he never played for the team he does have one memory that beats the rest: “I went to high school here. And I was at a sectional. And at the time Tell City was the powerhouse. In this sectional, and everybody was against Tell City. So it was Tell City South Spencer. “It was triple overtime – and right in the middle of the 3rd overtime – the lights go out. And you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. We come to find out that there had been a car accident up town, and they’d hit a power line. So we had to sit here for 30 or 40 minutes before they got that fixed and we got the game going again.” says Jim Miller. Another one of Millers greatest memories at the school involves the Pioneers picking off the basketball powerhouse of the times. Miller explains, “Princeton had won the state championship the year before, and we actually beat Princeton in the sectional, and then went to the regionals, the first time we had won the sectional in years. And that was one of the biggest crowds we’ve had since the days of single class basketball.”
The gym has also hosted many others like the Harlem Globetrotters an exhibition basketball team and former IU stand out Damon Bailey. The Boonville gymnasium has also seen a previous president. During the 2008 primary elections, Bill Clinton made an appearance. Showing support for his wife Clinton brought in a full house.
Although the capacity limit is set at 5,650, the gymnasium has hosted more. The temporary bleachers were moved to make room around walkways after the school switched to class basketball. That was only a few of the new additions to the gymnasium. In the last 10 years, the school has covered the gymnasium walls with Pioneer history with pictures dating back before the 40s.
From basketball sectionals, a blackout in triple overtime, a visit from an Indiana Mister Basketball and a former president, many people in the Tri-state would agree that the gymnasium at Boonville is a one of a kind treasure.