Monday, December 10, 2007

The Argus Observes --- Standing room only at new gym

By Don Lynch
From the Argus-Observer of Dec. 8, 1952

This community stepped into an advanced class this week in terms of the school facilities it enjoys.

Friday night sport fans watched basketball played for the first time in Ontario’s splendid new gymnasium.

Thursday night we shall see a class play in the new auditorium, which is comparable in size, comfort and appearance to any movie house in the region.

So we have moved from the extreme of inadequate facilities to the best of modern school facilities to be found in a community of this size.

Basketball was a good show even in the old gym and it is a colorful, magnificent performance in the new gymnasium which is as good as any in the region. Wonderfully lighted, well heated and generous in space, it provides the setting for Ontario to enjoy gymnasium recreation as good as any school has. … In a good gym, such as the new one, the crowd can see every detail of play, the cheering section has an opportunity to put on a sparkling performance and the band music lends a stirring atmosphere. The whole thing amounts to an exciting extravaganza produced by our own community and enjoyed by our own community. It’s lots of fun to watch. …

But heavy attendance created one drawback that marred the opening night of play in the new gymnasium. Some 1,400 persons turned out and only 1,200 seats were available.

Some fans evidenced sharp disappointment in their comment as they came in and found they had to stand to see the game. Their remarks indicated taxpayer surprise that a $700,00 high school with an elaborate gym failed to include enough seats for basketball spectators.

Their disappointment is understandable. However school authorities have had a difficult job in attempting to anticipate they need. They planned what they thought would be adequate seating. Construction funds are spent now, and the current budget is too tight to provide several educational facilities more urgently needed than gymnasium seats.

Superintendent Arthur Kiesz said, “I don’t think the Friday night game was any criteria of future crowds.” He surmises that a good many people came because it was the first night of play in the new gym and that crowds at future games will be smaller.

They certainly will be smaller soon if people have to stand. Hundreds of us who like basketball stayed away from the old gym because it was hard to see the play from some of the seats. It seems to me that the present season offers a unique opportunity to acquire a large new crowd of paying customers for basketball, customers who may be lost if there is no place to sit.

The patrons of school dramatics will surely fare better Tuesday night. There certainly are enough seats in the auditorium to accommodate the largest crowd that might attend a school play.

Let’s turn out in good numbers to see “Mother was a Freshman” presented by the senior class. We may find that our school actors have surprising talents when they work on a real stage in a real auditorium with good acoustics.

(Editor’s note: Ontario won that first game in the new gym, 57 to 54, over Vale. The Argus-Observer of Dec. 12, 1952, called play “typical for an early season game” with “clumsy ball handling” and a huge number of fouls – 61. The Tigers squeaked out the win in the final seconds on a free throw by Burke Nicholson and, when he missed the second free throw, a tip-in by Dave Burton.)

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