The Tank - Eminence Eels
Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43
The Tank 6760 IN-42 Eminence, IN 46151
Year Opened: 1957
Welcome to The Tank
The Eminence Eels are one of the last small-town high school basketball teams in the state of Indiana. The town is situated 34 miles southwest of downtown Indianapolis and was able to fend off consolidation from the 1950s to the 1970s. The 7-12 school has a total enrollment of 189 students.
Its basketball teams play in The Tank, built in 1957 and proven to be long-lasting compared to its previous gyms. The Eels’ first gym was built in 1920 for $5,000 and provided the team with a gym to call their own. It burned down after a Tuesday night practice on December 14, 1928. The destruction was estimated at $3,800, above the cost of insurance.
A new gym was constructed a few years later that would have a seating capacity for 500 people, but that too would be destroyed by ablaze by an overheated coal stove that was attempting to heat the gym for a game on February 12, 1955. A favorable wind prevented the blaze from spreading to nearby classrooms. The fire exceeded the $25,000 in insurance on the building, also damaged other parts of the school, and stocks were sold at $10 to the public to fund the new basketball facility.
The basketball team would be homeless and played home games at nearby Monrovia High School for two years before moving into their current home in November 1957, and they have been there ever since. The Tank has outlived all its predecessors combined as it enters its 64th season.
The most extensive renovations took place in September 2009 to the tune of $110,000. It included the walls painted, the wooden bleachers and floors sanded and refinished, and new red and blue covers and end caps for the bleacher seating. There was also a fresh coat of paint for the stage and ceiling, new stripes and logos on the court, and six new basketball goals that replaced the original backboards.
Eminence is one of two high schools in the country named the Eels; the other school, Clay City is 45 miles down the road to the west. Both schools get their name from the nearby Eel River, and surprisingly, there are no eels found in the river or anywhere in the state. The boy’s basketball team captured four sectional championships and one regional title in 1962. The Eels have also won several conferences, invitational, and conference championships.
Food & Beverage 3
There is a small concession window just outside the gym in the main lobby that has limited menu items. However, they include the standards of hot dogs, nachos, candy, snacks, and cola. There isn’t enough to keep you full and it is suggested that you grab something to eat before or after the game.
Despite its size and the current pandemic, The Tank does not disappoint when it comes to its energetic crowd and ambiance. The 1,400-seat bleacher seats are 4 feet off the ground, providing fans with an ideal view of the court, where they focus heavily on the hometown Eels.
A stage is situated at one end with a red curtain. The 12-row sections are colored in royal blue and red with a small walkway on top. There is also a series of large wooden archways that hold up the roof, and provide a unique look from the stands. Staircases are on both sides of the seating section to provide easy access.
The colors and logos are sprinkled throughout the venue that includes the school’s giant eel logo at the center court, the school’s official seal on one side of the wall, a “Welcome to the Tank” sign near the entrance, and a collection of sectional, regional, conference, and tournament banners above the doorway entrance. There are also many red and blue stripes to add to the aesthetics of the small gym.
The outside lobby features a trophy case with memorabilia that includes photos, banners, basketballs, and trophies. A small table is set up for collecting tickets, and there is even merchandise for the kids available at another table. The concession stand and bathrooms are also both outside the gym doors.
A light show is performed when the Eels enter the court that features music and a player introduction. A few other schools have similar introductions of their players, but the small confines and acoustics get the already passionate crowd a little more pumped up for the contest.
According to the school’s website, the area is almost entirely agricultural with a family atmosphere. Community support is strong, and they take pride in being a smaller rural school corporation. The town was laid out in 1855, and two years later its post office opened that is still in operation. The high school was founded in 1885, and the current building was constructed in 1931. There have been multiple additions to the school since, including the gym after the fire in 1957.
However, there is not much to see in town besides a basketball game. Once you enter Eminence, you are almost about to leave Eminence. The town is 3 miles south of I-70 at Exit 51 and about 35 miles away from downtown Indianapolis. It does not have anywhere to eat, and the closest spots are towards the intersection.
The small community gets behind the basketball team, and it is evident even when a limited amount is allowed inside the building. The fans provide an atmosphere that isn’t too far removed from a normal year of high school basketball. The small gathering showed their dismay when a tight contest slipped away from the Eels in the fourth quarter of play.
The high school is located 3 miles south of I-70 and is easy to locate once you have entered the town. The setting is easy to access with the staircases and could get somewhat cumbersome during larger crowds in the building. That was not the case during our visit and fans are up close to the action in the lower seats on each side.
Return on Investment 4
The price of a ticket is $5 a person, and snacks are inexpensive. However, the gym has that wow factor and is a small drive from downtown Indianapolis. One great thing about many Indiana gyms is that they are not too far a drive from larger cities. It is also a great value to enjoy one of the last great small Hoosier temples.
The Tank earns points for the light show that introduces players at the beginning of the game. It is a great way to get the crowd hyped before the contest. The second point is the wow factor of its design, colors, and setup. The third point is for the main school building which greets patrons when they pull into the parking lot. The final point is for the wooden arches that hold up the gym’s ceilings. A unique look that gives this small town a gym its distinction.
Small-town basketball is alive and well in Indiana at The Tank. The home of the Eminence Eels is a throwback experience and a reminder that a small school can rank with bigger schools in terms of atmosphere and fan participation. The Tank is a short drive from Indianapolis and easy to add to your high school basketball gym tour.