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  • Writer's pictureMarc Viquez

BNL Fieldhouse – Bedford North Lawrence Stars

Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.00

BNL Fieldhouse 595 Stars Blvd. Bedford, IN 47421

Year Opened: 1975

Capacity: 5,640


Seeing Stars at BNL Fieldhouse

A review of the BNL Fieldhouse cannot be complete without mentioning Damon Bailey who led the Bedford North Lawrence Stars to three state Final Fours and a come-from-behind win in the 1990 State Championship game in front of 41,000 plus at the RCA Dome. Bailey would score a state record 3,134 points in his four years before playing for Indiana University.

Baily first gained recognition as a 14-year-old 8th grader who caught the attention of IU head coach Bobby Knight who watched him play two games. Knight quipped that Bailey “is better than any guard we have right now. I don’t mean potentially better, I mean better today.” The quote was featured in the best-selling book A Season on the Brink and Bailey’s legend soon took off resulting in sold-out crowds at home.

The crowds were also at capacity whenever the Stars traveled on the road and it was a type of frenzied not seen in Indiana for some time and wouldn’t be duplicated until the Romeo Langford and New Albany began packing both home and away games from 2016-2019. BNL’s lone boy’s state championship is only eclipsed by the four state championships won by the ladies.

Bedford North Lawrence High School was created for the 1974-1975 academic school year as part of a consolidation of seven area schools: Bedford, Tunnelton, Shawswick, Needmore, Fayetteville, Oolitic, and Heltonville. The school’s seven-point logo represents the former schools and stands out among the generic logos found at many other high schools. The fieldhouse held its first game in January 1975.

Before the BNL Fieldhouse, the Bedford Stonecutters played at what locals called “The Quarry” a 4,200-seat gymnasium built in 1924. The team and gym were named after the multiple limestone quarries in the area and the school captured the regional championship during the final season in 1974 where the Cutters upset a Springs Valley squad featuring Larry Bird at The Hatchet House in Washington. It was the 21st regional championship in school history.

Food & Beverage 3

A large concession window exists outside the seating bowl with a few more locations on the upper concourse. The usual items of hot dogs for $2, nachos for $2, candy bars, and popcorn for $1 each. Fans can top their tortilla chips with pickled jalapenos at a makeshift fixings table.

However, the menu also offers coney dogs for $2.50, Star nachos (with chili) for $3, walking tacos for $3, and soft pretzels for $2.50. Coca-Cola products are offered for $2 a bottle and feature a little bit more variety including Mr. Pibb, Mello Yello, and red cream soda.

The concession area also offers a few tables for fans to eat their food before making their way to the seating area of the gymnasium. There is also a set of stairs leading up to the second level of seating.

Atmosphere 3

The Stars were playing an early afternoon game on a Saturday where the atmosphere was probably not mostly up to par. However, the crowd that gathered for both the JV and varsity games showed their support for the players on the court. The seating is featured on all three sides and for today’s game, only one bleacher was open. That was enough since the fieldhouse holds well over 5,000 fans.

The design is similar to gyms in Seymour, Lafayette, and Jay County High Schools but a few touches make the BNL Fieldhouse stand apart from these other gyms. There are a few ads speckled on the wall in both the lower and upper section of the gym, a computation center is on the wall for teams in the conference, and the US flag and conference member banners hang from the rafters. An electronic scoreboard hovers over the center court.

The exterior concourse features a large collection of memorabilia from BNL’s history of championships from large team photos, oversized player cut-outs, and numerous newspaper clippings. The court itself is named after Damon Bailey and the media area is named after Myron Rainey who has been calling games for local radio station WBIW since 1979. The Voice of the Stars has called all five state basketball championships at the school.

Neighborhood 2

Bedford has a population of 13,400 plus and is located about 24 miles south of Bloomington, Indiana, on SR-37. The town offers an array of local establishments and national chains to grab a bite to eat before or after the game.

Bedford features the Limestone Cafe, Smokin Jim’s BBQ and Steakhouse, El Compadre, Shorty’s Den, Mamas, and Papas, and Court Room Sports Grill. A selection of chain restaurants includes Steak n Shake, Golden Corral, Long John Silver’s, Captain D’s, and Hardee’s.

A few places in town to visit are the Lawrence County Historical Museum and a short drive is Bluesprinhs Cavern where visitors can take an underground boat ride. About a 30-minute drive is Bloomington where the campus of IU welcomes all visitors.

Fans 4

Although the crowd was small for the game the spirit of each fan was evident. There were many showing demises of each play gone wrong by the home team while a large collection of fans who made the more than an hour trip from Evansville showed their anger when a foul was called against the squad. Bedford is known for being a good basketball town and even when the crowd is light it is easy to see a few basketball-savvy fans.

Access 3

The town of Bedford is somewhat off the beaten path but just a 20-minute drive off the I-69 exit on SR-37. Access to the gym is easy due to its large size and the number of people who take in a game. The facility offers an outer concourse and an upper concourse with staircases to allow for quick travel to and from your seats.

Return on Investment 3

The cost of a ticket to a basketball game is $5 and is on par with other basketball gyms in the state. The price of concession items is also affordable and in line with other gyms.

Extras 3

BNL Fieldhouse earns a point for the banners hanging from the rafters of the gym. The banners honor the championship teams of both the boys and girls basketball teams. The fieldhouse earns a second point for its large area outside the gym featuring large team photos of past championships, trophy cases, and various other items. The home of the Stars earns a final point for allowing fans to top their nachos with jalapenos from a make-shift fixings area.

Final Thoughts

The BNL Fieldhouse is another of the state's largest gyms and offers an experience very similar to gyms of its size and age. When it's packed, the fieldhouse is electric.

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