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  • Marc Viquez

Erik Clark Athletic Center – Carmel High School Greyhounds


Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.24

Erik Clark Athletic Center 520 East Main Street Carmel, IN 46032


Carmel High School Greyhounds website

Erik Clark Athletic Center website


Year Opened: 1958

Capacity: 4,000

 

Getting Better with Age

When Carmel High School decided to build a brand-new $1.5 million school for the 1958-1959 academic school year it also included a 4,000-plus basketball gymnasium in its plan. At the time, the Greyhounds program had been practicing and playing at the nearby Noblesville Armory which offered undesirable and cramped conditions for high school hoops. The first game to take place at the new gym would be on November 11, 1958–the first home game in Carmel in over a decade.


The Ralph patent-design gymnasium would be the largest in the county and offer a sunken basketball court. However, fans have to walk upstairs Legman enters the gymnasium, making it perhaps the only one of its kind quite like it. The new gym incorporates all of the architect’s signature features from a wide wraparound concourse, an octangular seating bowl, and unobstructed views from everywhere in the building. The ECAC also includes an arched roof, exposed beams, fluorescent lighting, and temporary bleachers that could hold an additional 1,000 fans for sectional play in the conference.


The building would be renamed in 1997 in honor of Erik Clark who was an educator in the district for 39 years. He was the boys’ basketball coach from 1970-1977 leading the Hounds to six sectional titles and its first state championship in 1977. The title game would be the last game of his career, and he would continue at the school as a counselor and assistant principal until his retirement in 1997. From his retirement, until his death in 2009, he attended nearly all home and away basketball and football games.


Carmel is the largest high school in the state of Indiana with 5,060 students. Its sports teams would become a juggernaut in many sports capturing 170 plus state championships. The boys’ basketball program won additional state championships in 2012, 2013, and 2019 while finishing as runner-ups in 1970 and 2018. The girls captured their lone state title in 2008 and were finalists in 1995. In total, the school has won state championships in 19 of the 22 sports offered to its students.


Food & Beverage 3

There is one concession stand at the ECAC and it’s quite busy throughout the stoppage in the play The food offerings include nachos, hot dogs, coneys, popcorn, walking tacos, and assorted candy bars. Coca-Cola products are proudly served at the venue.


As with most high school games here in Indiana, and perhaps elsewhere, the concession items are merely for snacking pleasure; however, there are more than just a few amazing places to enjoy dinner before or after the game in nearby downtown Carmel.


Atmosphere 3

The ECAC feels a lot more modern than the various sunken gyms in the state of Indiana. It is part of a complex that is adjacent to the natatorium and fans must walk up a couple of flights of stairs to enter the gym’s concourse. Once inside, the wide concourse wraps, offering unobstructed views from most areas. It is a modest-looking gym that is dressed in the school colors of blue and gold and brightly lit with LED lighting.


The walls are covered with numerous state championships won by all of the school’s athletic teams and continue outside the hallway of the complex. Up above the court is a series of exposed piping that adds a nice touch to the classic gym that is comprised of permanent wood bleaching seating. Fans are allowed to stand up against a plexiglass section and media members comprise the opposite side of this area.


The team is introduced by the cheerleaders and the school band, while the student section, dubbed the “Hound Pound,” cheers at boisterous levels. They are game for dressing up for theme nights at the gym and also proudly hold up large oversized poster heads of basketball players and cheerleaders. There does not appear to be an official team mascot.


Other points of interest in the gym are the auxiliary seating that is pushed up against the walls that block the old Carmel center court logo, half-time shooting contests and dance renditions, and an LED board on the media row.


Neighborhood 5

Its location on Main Street is just blocks away from the vibrant downtown Carmel scene of restaurants, shops, and bars making it an ideal way of spending a night in one of Indianapolis’ poshest suburbs. Downtown offers a variety of shops, restaurants, bars, and performance theaters that is the envy of the rest of the Indianapolis metro area.


The Pint Room offers one of the largest selections of taps and casual pub fare, the Carmel Distillery is a hip food court that features Sun King Brewery. Matt the Millers Tavern is always the spot for great food and drink, and if you feel like food challenges, see if you can finish off a Big Ugly at Bub’s Burgers and Ice Cream.


The Monon Trail also cuts through Main Street downtown and locals enjoy riding their bikes to Union Brewing Company for a pint of cask ale beer and jerk chicken, patties, or oxtail at the Jamaican Reggae Grill next door.

The Palladium at the Center for Performing Arts is a dome roof theater that is a marvel to look at in itself. Located off the Monon, the building features plays, concerts, symphonies, and other stage events.


Fans 4

The Greyhound fans are into the game, enjoy their basketball team, and are wonderful supporters. They love their squad and enjoy their surroundings inside the gym. The stands were filled up quite nicely with supporters from both teams. Even during the pandemic, fans were loud and supportive of their team that was on the verge of winning their conference championship.


Access 3

The gymnasium is located in the back of the high school off Main Street right before downtown. The best way for access is off the State Road 31 (Keystone Ave.) exit a few miles north of I-465. SR-31 through Carmel is free of traffic lights and features roundabout exits for reduced head-on collisions.


Once inside the facility, there is one main concourse that houses everything from the concession stand, to bathrooms and merchandise table. However, the portable seats on top make it somewhat cramped and don’t open up the view of the facility as it was meant to be seen.


The main parking lot can fill up quickly for heavily attended games, but there are several other areas to park around the high school. Thankfully, there are small groups of people that you can follow through the high school hallways to the gymnasium entrances.


Return on Investment 3

The cost of a ticket to a game is only $5, much in line with the rest of high school basketball in the state. There is not a bad seat in the house and the excitement is thrilling especially when nearby North Central, Hamilton Southeast, or Fishers High Schools are paying a visit. The concession snack prices are also inexpensive.


Extras 4

The gym earns an extra point for being so close to the vibrant downtown scene which should please both the older and family crowd. It earns a second point for the upkeep of the facility; the place looks much more modern than its construction date of 1958. Next, it earns another point on the scoreboard that showcases the individual stats of players. The final point is for the half-time entertainment that is somewhat overlooked at other state gymnasiums.


Final Thoughts

There are a lot of great old-school gyms in the state of Indiana and the Eric Clark Athletic Center rightfully takes its place among the fantastic facilities to enjoy high school basketball in the state. It is an older classic Indiana fieldhouse that provides incredible modern comfort for high school basketball.


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Follow all of Marc’s stadium journeys on Twitter @ballparkhunter and his YouTube channel.

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