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Official Review by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The Tiernan Center is the 5th largest high school gymnasium in the world and is home to both the Richmond High School Red Devils and Indiana University East Red Wolves basketball programs. The 8,100 seat arena has been home to basketball and other events since opening in 1984. It is quite large for high school basketball, even in a state where high school programs pride themselves by the size of their facilities. The Tiernan Center is the most modern of the many classic gymnasiums in Indiana, and one that definitely showcases the high school’s past athletic highlights.
The arena is named after longtime Richmond High School educator Richard Tiernan. Upon its opening the arena featured the world’s largest moveable bleachers, a feat that led to other facilities including larger sized movable bleachers in their facilities. The two-level gymnasium features enough room on top to include an indoor track, batting cages and individual basketball courts. There are also temporary bleachers that can be added to up the seating capacity for both boys and girls state basketball tournaments.
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There is the normal selection of food served at the Tiernan Center at three locations. The main concession stand can be found in the main lobby near the entrance to the court, while the two other locations are in the corners of the upper deck. A gymnasium this size definitely needs multiple locations to satisfy the cravings of fans during the game. Hot dogs are $2, personal pizzas from Mancini's are $5.
Coca-Cola products are served in three sizes that range from $1-$2.50. Other options include nachos, popcorn, and candy.
The Tiernan Center is an impressive modern facility that services both high school and college basketball. The acoustics create a vibrating sound from the band, crowd, and the PA announcer.
There are two main entrances from the main lobby to the playing court and two more entrances at the opposite end. The arena is separated into an upper and lower section composed of removable plastic bleachers.
The energy begins with the pre game festivities that include the pep band playing frantically while the spirit squad keeps up from the sidelines for a full 18 minutes before tip off. Cheerleaders help introduce the starting five and a student section is there to make sure they are heard throughout the game. The clamor of fans clapping and music echoing throughout the arena create a rather impressive euphoria that seduces the first time visitor.
There is a lot of nostalgia hanging on the walls including team photos in the four staircases, the original center court floor from the old gym, and a vast collection of trophies in the main lobby. The main lobby features the main concession stand and a small table set up for the sale of team merchandise. Above the playing court are multiple banners and a simple scoreboard. There are electronic scoreboards above each of the entrances from the court to the lobby.
There are a few interesting places to visit in Richmond. It is recommended to grab a bite to eat before the game, since many establishments close around 10 PM. One of those places is The Kitchen at the Loft, serving handmade sandwiches and crafted cocktails. One would be missing out if they did not try the meatloaf sandwich or sweet potato and blue cheese quiche. Wash it down with tasty beer from New Boswell Brewery & Tap Room next door and you have yourself the best of both worlds. Most of New Boswell's pints are a bargain at $4 and there are seven varieties on tap.
If you are with the family, check out Little Sheba's a few blocks away for giant sandwiches and pizza. The sandwiches have unique names that include John Boy's Stupid Idiot, Ft. Wayne Ave Hoagie, and Ms Piggy's Nightmare.
The Historic Richmond Depot District is worth spending some time perusing through stores, antique shops, restaurants, bars, and retail shops. It is a small, but up-and-coming area that transformed late 19th century buildings into a pleasant shopping district. The Model T Museum is another highlight in town.
The Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn, Best Western, and Comfort Inn are just a few of the many places to find a good night's rest during your time in Richmond.
The fans of the school expect great basketball by players who put forth their best effort. You can hear the moans and groans throughout the night when the team is not playing up to expectations. Like with other high schools, many of the student body are there for the social aspect, but there are quite a few alumni and townspeople who are focused on the game. If you listen to a few people after the contest, you can hear them discussing the night's results. Richmond is only one of a handful of schools who also still sell reserve seats, a throwback to when high school basketball was the hottest ticket in town.
Getting around the gymnasium is quite easy since there are four entrances from the outside of the facility. There are also four staircases that lead fans to the upper deck where the indoor track also serves as the upper concourse.
Bathrooms and concession stands are clearly marked and one should find moving around the facility quite efficient throughout the night; it is set up more in line with a college venue. There is an ample amount of free parking for visitors and one may find it interesting to park on the side of the street adjacent to the high school football field, which pales in comparison to the Tiernan Center.
Tickets to all home games are $5 for adults, concession prices are affordable, and parking is free. There are also chances to pick up some high school gear at the concession stand in the main lobby. The arena is near downtown with a few of the city's interesting places to eat and drink before or after the game within easy reach. A Richmond High School basketball game makes for quite an affordable night of witnessing top notch basketball in a rather impressive basketball stadium.
The pre game entertainment is professionally done and feels like a college basketball game. The band, cheerleaders, and spirit team perform at a high octane level before the game to create a level of excitement for everyone in attendance.
The arena has a very sleek and polished look throughout all levels of the facility. Old team photos and trophies are presented nice and neat and not slapped around all together like posters on a dorm room college wall.
Football Hall of Famer Lamar Lundy is a graduate of Richmond High School and was not just an all-state football player. The former member of the Los Angeles Rams' "Fearsome Foursome," one of the best defensive lines in NFL history, led the basketball team to the state finals in 1953. His football jersey is retired outside of the arena overlooking the end zone of the football field.
The Tiernan Center is an impressive high school facility; it does not feel like a high school gym, but more like a professional arena. It has much more of a modern feel than the classic big gyms that were built in the 1950s and 1960s. However, the sound of the band, the access to the court, and the location of the venue on the outskirts of downtown makes for a very interesting and pleasant visit to the city.
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