MIDDLETOWN, Ohio -- Middletown High School’s new Wade E. Miller Arena is progressing well and the school plans to have additional details and a finalized photo of the court soon.
Middletown’s new arena will still be called “Jerry Lucas Court” after the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer who played at Ohio State and was named in 1996 as one of the NBA’s 50 greatest players.
The 2,300-seat arena is on schedule to open for the 2017-18 school year. There will also be additional standing-room-only spaces.
“We believe the arena will be very unique and like no other high school gym around,” Middletown Athletic Director Aaron Zupka said. “All hoops will be roll-out ones you see in the college and pro game which offers great sight lines.”
Middletown just finalized the vendor for the four state-of-the-art video boards in each corner of the arena.
“We are not aware of any other high school that will have a set up like this,” Zupka said.
Fans will enter from above and the court will sit below. There will be a walking track, a spirit store, a concession stand and a large hospitality area that fits around 150.
When the arena is completed there will be three gymnasiums next to each other including the old high school gym (Paul Walker Gymnasium), the main arena and a new middle school gym. That will make hosting large events like graduation a convenient setup, Zupka said.
“Everything I've heard from our Business Manager (George Long) and the construction team is that we are running on schedule,” Zupka said.
Middletown still plans to host Hamilton for the final high school varsity boys’ basketball game Dec. 8 in the old Wade E. Miller Gymnasium, which is located off campus. The new arena is scheduled to open the next day.
The Middletown athletic department plans to bring back all the state championship teams and basketball standouts for the weekend.
Demolition of the old gymnasium is scheduled for late fall 2018 or early 2019.
The old Wade E. Miller Gymnasium -- which opened in 1952 -- has played host to many memorable games and players over the years. The Middies had a 76-game overall win streak with Lucas during 1956 and '57 -- both of which included state titles.
In 2013, Middletown dedicated Jerry Lucas Court in a ceremony at the gymnasium.
"I hate to see the gym go," Lucas told WCPO.com this past winter. "There is a lot of nostalgia in that so it's a shame to see it go that's for sure."
Lucas, who has lives in California and also spends time in Florida, occasionally visits Ohio and some of its high schools. He still has many friends in Middletown and attends the state basketball tournament in Columbus each March.
Middletown holds a state-record seven state boys' basketball titles. The Middies won state titles in 1957, '56, '53, ’52, ’47, ’46 and ’44.