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  • Writer's pictureMarc Viquez

Franklin Community Gym – Franklin Community Grizzly Cubs

Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43

Franklin Community Gym 2600 Cumberland Dr. Franklin, IN 46131

Year Opened: 2007

Capacity: 2,758


Home of the Grizzly Cubs

It has been a century since the town of Franklin celebrated its first state championship and the team that captured it would become so famous they would be coined the Franklin Wonder Five. The team began playing together in elementary school and under the tutelage of head coach Ernest “Griz” Wagner would win five straight championships at both the high school and collegiate levels.

The school won three state championships in a row from 1920-1922. They would dispatch Lafayette, Anderson, and Terre Haute Garfield by combined scores of 92-50 at the state finals. The championship-winning team put the small town on the map and its legacy continues to this day. That state championship team became known famously as the Franklin Wonder Five which played together first in elementary school and went 104-10 during its four years under coach Ernest “Griz” Wagner.

The Wonder Five would graduate and play at Franklin College where it captured the 1923 and 1924 Indiana State Collegiate Champions defeating powerhouses such as Illinois, Purdue, Notre Dame, and Wisconsin during a 50-game winning streak. The next season the team was Indiana State Collegiate Champions.

That was five straight championships for the Wonder Five and their exploits captured the fancy of not just Indiana but around the country. The cagers put Franklin on the map and both the high school and university use the Grizzlies nickname in honor of coach Wagner.

The team’s legacy continues 100 years after its first championship-winning season websites and Twitter pages have been created to honor these men. The Grizzly Cubs have captured 46 sectional championships, 12 regional championships, and 6 semi-state championships in its history. The school made it back to the finals in 1939, 1973, and 1974 but lost both times.

Food & Beverage 3

There are two concession stands in the main lobby near the entrance to the gym and offer the usual food items that can be found at most gyms in the state of Indiana. However, the prices are somewhat on the cheaper side. Pretzels are $3, hot dogs are $2 (chili cheese dogs are $3), popcorn and candy are $1, and nachos are $2 (super nachos $3 with sliced jalapenos). Coca-Cola products are available for $2.

Atmosphere 4

The gymnasium looks a lot different than many of its contemporaries and that is because it is among the most modern in the state having been built in 2007. The 2,758-seat gymnasium offers fans seating on all four sides of the court with some of the seating a few inches away from the foul lines. The seating is made up of blue plastic seats and the fans are close to the action no matter where they sit for a game.

The walls are decorated with multiple championship signs won by the various school programs but the basketball state titles won by the Wonder Five are blended in with the rest of the championships–these guys need three separate banners hanging from the rafters, they are that legendary. However, the outside lobby has three giant pictures honoring these fellows along with the three other teams that were state finalists in 1939, 1973, and 1974.

The main lobby is also quite impressive and is home to the Grizzly Cub Walk of Fame which is home to accolades and past players who made their mark in athletics at the school. There are also two ticket booths leading up to the lobby that provides an old-school feel to the very modern building.

Neighborhood 4

Franklin, Indiana is situated about 30 miles south on US-31 and the high school itself is about 3 miles northwest of downtown. Downtown offers plenty of options and includes eateries such as Court Street Cafe, Bojak’s Bar & Grille, Jefferson Street Pub, and Shale Creek Brewing Company.

The Historic Artcraft Theater was built in 1922 and restored to its former glory. The movies are of the older variety and cost just $6, but a few nights feature beer or wine included in your $10 ticket price. For more history, visit the Johnson County Museum of History during its hours of business from Monday to Saturday.

Fans 4

At the game of this review, the student section made its presence felt like each member dressed in jeans and flannels as a sign of unity–perhaps it was to honor the 1990s grunge era, but the look was also mimicked for the away student section who also made an impact on the atmosphere with similar garb on the opposite side of the court.

The rest of the fans made a lot of noise themselves cheering on their Grizzly Cubs in a tightly contested battle with rival Whiteland. A lot of them have been coming to games for years and can tell you a few stories about the program dating back a few decades.

Access 3

The high school and gymnasium are located about a mile west of US 31 which itself is a few miles west of I-65. There is plenty of parking for the gym and the main lobby consists of concession stands, bathrooms, and a Walk of Fame. The seating itself offers four separate stands with various aisles in the middle offering access to your particular seat.

Return on Investment 3

The cost of a ticket to a game is $6 and is on par with other high school basketball gymnasiums in the state of Indiana. The price of a hot dog is $2 and super nachos loaded with pickled jalapenos are $3. There are also free athletic programs and scorecards at the entrance of the lobby.

Extras 3

The gymnasium earns a point for its aesthetically pleasing ceiling that provides a spectacular backdrop for the action underneath the net. The gym gets a second point for its main lobby which is modern and offers fans concession stands, championship team photos, and the Walk of Fame. The last point is for the lighting and sound system that provides a polished feel to the game.

Final Thoughts

There is much to enjoy at a Grizzly Cubs game and the size of the gymnasium alone makes for a spirited atmosphere even if the crowd is not at full capacity. It’s modern, comfortable, clean, and unlike most other buildings of its kind for high school hoops in the state of Indiana. Franklin is not too far off the main roads and interstates and its charming little downtown makes for a nice little weekend treat for your basketball pleasure.

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