Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.71
Hauser High School Gymnasium 9423 N State Rd. 9 Hope, IN 47246
Year Opened: 1966
Wowzer, Wowzer, Hauser
The Hauser High School Gymnasium is not among the largest in the state but is among the top ranks of the bevy of small-town gyms that dot the Hoosier State landscape. The 1,573-seat venue features an innovative upper deck design that provides a vantage point not found in too many other facilities.
The Hauser Jets have made the gym a tough place to play the past few years posting a winning home record. The town of Hope has a population of only 2,158 but on many nights the majority of its residents make their way to the high school to watch Jets basketball during the cold, winter months since both the school and gymnasium opened in the fall of 1966.
The original home for basketball in town was the Hope Gym built in 1938 for the Hope High School Red Devils. The town embraced the gym and capacity crowds were the norm on an annual basis until the new school was built. The building still stands, but it needs major repairs to fix mold, a leaky roof, peeling paint, and outdated windows. The gym was at one time considered for filming for the movie Hoosiers as the home of the Hickory Hoosiers before the Knightstown Gym was selected by producers.
Food & Beverage 3
There are two concession stands located on opposite ends of the court in the two main lobbies. The main stand offers affordable concession items such as nachos, pretzels, hamburgers and cheeseburgers, hot dogs, and on select nights pizza slices from local pizzeria Whitt’s. An item on the list will cost you no more than $2.50 and all drinks are of the Coca-Cola variety. On the opposite end is where you’ll find popcorn and freshly baked cookies for your sweet tooth.
The first glance at something different is the upstairs seating that forms balconies all around the perimeter of the gym. The upper seating area hovers over the court and provides a view uncommon at many other facilities in the state. Some staircases take patrons to the second level at all four corners and once you find a seat, you have some of the best views in the building.
The student section is dubbed the Danger Zone and the small group of 50 students dress up in theme outfits, stand, stomp, and cheer throughout the game in support of their Jets. They are small in size but are deafeningly loud to pose havoc to any would-be opponent attempting a free throw. During halftime and after the game, the student group continues the celebrations with more cheering and dancing around the court.
Student Section at Hauser Jets, Photo by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey
The players take the court with the sounds of jet engines blasting in the background and an enthusiastic public address announcer pumps even more energy and excitement into the stands. The sound system works quite well and it’s hard not to get excited about the opening tip-off. Fans stand and clap during the playing of the school fight song.
Multiple black and white school championship banners hang against the walls of the upper deck seating area. The railings of the upper level are adorned with mini-painted silver jets, conference opponent banners hang at the center railing, and the school’s 2006 state championship banner is front and center from the rafters.
Hope is a small town of just about over 2,000 people located 20 miles in between the towns of Columbus and Shelbyville, Indiana. Access to the town is through S.R. 9 where the school is located. Like many Indiana towns, there is a square that features a few restaurants on Main Street including El Jefe Mexican Restaurant and The Corner Cafe. However, your best bet might be heading south to Columbus to enjoy some of the great breweries and restaurants that the city has to offer including 450 North Brewery.
Maybe the town had a case of cabin fever since this was the first game played in well over a week due to truculent weather in sub-zero temperatures, but there were close to 1,000 people in attendance during our visit making up 50% of the town’s population. The school’s principal that it was the norm for a weekend game and that he expected even more in attendance. The crowd wore their school colors, discussed with one another about the team’s play, and told stories about how they remember watching some of the seniors play junior ball.
The small gym is extremely easy to get around featuring concession items and bathrooms in the main lobby and staircases to the upper deck. Even though the crowd can be large, it does not become cumbersome to move around. The gym is located on State Road 9 with plenty of parking.
Return on Investment 3
The Hauser Gym is somewhat located off the beaten path, but being able to drive through the small towns of the state on small roads is somewhat appealing to many individuals. The price of admission is $5 for adults, the parking is free, and the concessions are no more than $2.50 per item. You also get to enjoy basketball in one of the most eclectic-looking facilities perhaps in the area. to me, that’s worth the price of admission.
A star is awarded to the Danger Zone, the section made up of 50 high-energy students who provide an atmosphere just as energetic as larger high school facilities and some soccer pitches.
The second star is awarded to the mini silver-painted jets that adorn the top rails of the facility. A nice nod to the school’s nickname and a simple way to give the place a little home cooking.
A third star is awarded to the upper deck seating which is among the quirkiest in the state. The area provides a different view of the game that is enjoyable and roomy enough to be comfortable at the same time.
A final star is awarded to the home announcer who adds a level of boisterous frenzy to the pregame warmups, player introductions, and rest of the game.
I first heard of Hope, Indiana, from a friend at Indiana State over 20 years ago; it had taken me that long to finally visit the small town. In a state that is filled with the largest high school basketball gymnasiums on the planet, it is also home to many smaller-sized venues that are equally enjoyable to watch high school hoops. Hauser High School Gymnasium is a rollicking good time on a cold, winter’s night; if you can pencil in a trip, you’d be pleasantly surprised.