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  • Writer's pictureMarc Viquez

Butler-Vandalia Student Athletic Center – Butler HS Aviators

Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43

Butler-Vandalia Student Athletic Center 600 S Dixie Dr. Vandalia, OH 45377

Year Opened: 1986

Capacity: 4,500


The SAC Packs Them in for High School Hoops

The Butler-Vandalia Student Athletic Center may or may not be the biggest high school basketball gym in the state of Ohio but it may have the most comfortable seats in the state or perhaps any other high school gym in the nation. The 150 purple cushion theater-style seats in each balcony set the standard for viewing a high school gym. Not to be outdone are the reserved plastic theater-style seats located on the lower west side of the building.

The SAC was built in 1986 and is home to the Butler High School Aviators, located in Vandalia just a few miles from the Dayton International Airport and 15 minutes north of the University of Dayton’s UD Arena. The area is known for its college hoops, NCAA First Four, and Flyin’ to the Hoops high school invitational but how is the high school basketball scene in town?

The city does have some other great high school gyms that include Fairmont’s Trent Arena, Oakwood’s The Pit, and Northmont’s Thunderdome–where the school plays a non-conference game against Richmond (Indiana) High School in 2020.

Food & Beverage 3

The SAC offers concession options on both levels and the options include hot dogs, nachos, popcorn, candy, and soda. These options are similar to other high school venues in neighboring Indiana and what can be found at the Wade E. Miller Arena a few miles south in Middletown.

Atmosphere 4

The SAC hosted district finals that pitted Anna versus National Trail in boys basketball Division III. The building filled up the lower level first and soon the upper seating was close to near capacity. This made for a frenzied atmosphere where the opposing school colors of green and orange did their best to cheer on the boys on the court.

The facility provides a nice canvas for high school hoops and offers several features that are sometimes overlooked at other buildings of its kind. The two scoreboards feature the names of both schools in place of “home” and “away” and feature a plethora of ads. A video screen provides more areas for advertisements but also includes a pre-game introduction. Then there is the comfortable theater-style seating located on the western section of the lower level and the balcony section on the upper level.

The building has a capacity of 4,500 and is somewhat of an updated version of some of the big box gyms in Indiana that were constructed in the 1970s. The colors of purple and gold are speckled throughout the building and multiple banners hang from the rafters representing the various high school championships from numerous sports.

The outer concourse offers two trophy cases but also a memorial to the men and women who lost their lives in service. Staircases allow fans to enter the upper level and bathrooms and concession stands are also located in this area. The upper concourse offers two window areas that provide a glimpse of the camps with one view of the school’s football field.

Neighborhood 3

Vandalia is a suburb of Dayton and is located at the intersection of Interstates 70 and 75 and the Dayton International Airport. There is a core of regional and national restaurant chains near the high school and downtown Dayton is a short 15-minute drive south on I-75. Other sporting venues include the UD Arena, Day Air Ballpark, and Nutter Center.

Restaurant options include Bunkers, Oscar’s, Airline Dairy Creme, Jim’s Donut Shop, Warehouse 4, and Ray’s Wine Shop and Grill. There are also regional options of Skyline Chili, Frisch’s Big Boy, Fricker’s, and LaRossa’s in nearby Englewood. However, the Oregon District is a short 15 drive from the SAC for further options.

Five Rivers Metro Parks, Scene 75 Entertainment Center, and the Charleston Falls Preserve are a few tourist attractions when in town along with the other options in the area that include the US Air Force Museum and Dayton Art Institute.

Fans 4

The fans of both high schools are decked out with their respective school colors and provide great support throughout the entire game. The students’ section was also packed with supporters hoping to provide an additional boost to their classmates on the court. The arena was at near capacity and the building was alive and well with Ohio high school hoop fans.

Access 4

The school is located about half a mile from the I-75 exit and there is plenty of parking at the school for the event. The gym itself features two levels of seating in the main concourse with bathrooms, concessions, and exits and entrances. The upper level offers a wraparound concourse that makes it easy to get to and from your seats.

Return on Investment 3

Ticket prices are $7 for the district final games and concession prices range between $2 to $3 for most items. Game day programs cost $3 and there is a parking fee of $3 for all cars, something that was somewhat surprising, but proceeds go back to the school. However, this could make for a little bit of backup from the main road before the game.

Extras 3

The SAC earns a point for the cushioned seating backup of the balcony which is plush and very comfortable. The arena earns an additional point for its scoreboards that offer both the home and away from the school’s names and a final point is awarded for the memorial for servicemen and women in the outer concourse.

Final Thoughts

There is a lot to like about the SAC from its cushioned balcony seating to its massive seating capacity; this is a facility that could very well be among many other finest examples of high school hoops. The crowd provides a nice background of cheering and clapping and the action on the court provides the focal point. It is a nicely designed high school venue that is worthy of checking out if one finds themselves in Dayton, Ohio.

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