Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57
Munster Fieldhouse 8808 Columbia Ave. Munster, IN 46321
Year Opened: 1966
Munster Fieldhouse – Big, Bright & Bold
The Munster Fieldhouse might just be one of the largest dome facilities of its kind not only for high school basketball in Indiana but perhaps the entire nation. The mammoth-sized roof stretches almost to the gymnasium floor and creates an ambiance that is most likely never to be forgotten by anyone who steps foot inside for a game.
The fieldhouse was constructed along with the high school in June 1966 and hosted its first game in December of that year for the Munster High School Mustangs basketball program. The town had never had a high school before its completion and students would be bussed to nearby Hammon High or Tech while others commuted to Griffith High School. The cost of the gym and school campus was $6.2 million.
The dome structure was a popular choice among many schools of this era that also included designs in Greencastle, Frankfort, Shelbyville, Benton Central, and Southern Wells High Schools to name a few. However, Munster’s distinct look and overreaching design sets it apart from its sister buildings and provides seating for 3,200 people on four portable bleacher seating that are rolled up under a massive old-school electronic scoreboard.
The cost of the fieldhouse was $1.5 million and it’s more than just the home for basketball games. Munster High uses it for all physical education programs and it is large enough to house five separate courts for adult leagues and community use on the weekends and summers. The design is striking and the brown curve beams from the frame of the building that has been almost unchanged since it opened more than 50 years ago.
Food & Beverage 2
The building and roof are massive but not so much in terms of concessions and it was somewhat disappointing to see one window open for fans during a well-attended game against a nearby rival on a Friday night. True, there are many wonderful options for dining in the area and perhaps that is an option most fans, both young and old take when attending a Mustangs game.
The usual food items are present from nachos to hot dogs to popcorn. The prices are reasonable and most items will cost just a few bucks. However, the lines can get long and there are no other portable areas for food options inside the fieldhouse.
The seating consists of four portable wooden bleachers that are rolled out to form the seating configuration that puts fans close to the action on the court. The two sideline bleachers are much larger than the end bleachers (that were added recently) which creates a massive amount of space behind the seats where little kids bounce balls against the back of it during the game.
The fieldhouse features a large electronic scoreboard that appears to have been installed sometime between 1991 and 1998 based on the date, but amusing, Pepsi logo. Beneath the scoreboard is a freshly sanded court with the school’s colors of red and white along with a massive logo at the center court. The sanding was in 2019 and was the first time it was redone since the venue opened in 1967.
An AC system was added in 2018 and includes two bold red tubes that look like field goalposts. It was the first time that the building had an air-conditioning unit installed in its history. Championship banners have been moved to the wall of the building but there are a few still hanging from the ceiling honoring the school’s past champs in all sports. The boys’ basketball program has captured 19 conference, 10 sectional, and two regional championships in school history. It also won three conference championship tournaments during the six years of its existence.
A track circles the bleachers and provides ample space for tables to offer 50/50 tickets and other information from a local business. This is where you will also find the two entrances and exits to the building along with additional restrooms. The open space is very different than what basketball fans are used to in Indiana but the dome structure and crowd noise create an atmosphere that is unique to Munster High School.
The high school is close to several restaurants and breweries that are worth visiting before or after the game. 3 Floyd’s Brewing Company is one of the most recognizable breweries in the nation and visitors can also enjoy award-winning food at its restaurant. The options are varied and the brewery has legions of fans from all over the country. Tours are available on Saturday.
There is almost everything imaginable in terms of eateries in town and the nearby cities of the region. Cafe Borgia is a fine spot for Italian cuisine, Docs Smokehouse and Craft Bar is ideal for barbecue and craft beers, Edwardo’s Natural Pizza is the spot for a deep-dish pizza, El Salto is your pick for Mexican food, Mishkenut serves Mediterranean cuisine, and Miner-Dunn is a local diner with a variety of dishes at affordable pricing.
Community Veterans Memorial, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Monastery, and Centennial Park are three options to visit in town. There is also an array of shopping malls and stores close to town in Dyer and Schererville but downtown Chicago is about 30 miles north of town for more options for entertainment.
The Mustang loyalist has a lot to be happy with when we attended the game late in the season. The boys were enjoying a 19-1 record including a 17-game winning streak; it’s the type of basketball not seen in recent memory until the last few seasons. The crowd was frenzied, the student section stood and jumped (until they were told by the athletic director to stop since they broke a section a few games prior), and the away crowd and student section did their best to be heard.
The Hammond Fieldhouse is located on Calumet Ave. and just south of I-94. The parking can take some maneuvering based on how well the team is playing and it is advisable to arrive early for weekend games. Once inside the building, there is one entryway into the seating bowl area. There is a lot of room inside the dome building but one has to walk up and down the wooden bleachers to get to and from your seat.
Return on Investment 4
The cost of a ticket is $6 and is in line with other high schools in the state and region. The concession prices are cheap but do yourself a favor and grab something to eat before the game and grab a beer at either 3 Floyd’s or Doc’s Smokehouse after the game. Munster is a nice area with several options to make your trip worthwhile.
The Munster Fieldhouse earns a point for its massive dome shape which is the focal point of the entire building. There are many dome structures where high school hoops are played and perhaps this is the state’s largest and brightest.
The Fieldhouse earns an additional point for its scoreboard that is old-school college, well least from the 1980s, and features a 1990s-era Pepsi logo. Perhaps no one wants to climb up a ladder to change the logo, the company has rebranded twice since the scoreboard was installed, but it makes for a great anomaly while looking at it from your seat.
The building earns the third point for its renovations of a perfectly sanded basketball court and cool air from the massive AC unit hanging from its roof. The locker rooms have also been renovated, a positive for the players.
The Munster Fieldhouse is big, bold, and brass. The dome-shaped building has a look that grabs your attention the moment you walk underneath its ceiling. The dark support beams spiral out from the center which is aesthetically pleasing to the eyes. When the Mustangs are winning and they have a combined record of 46-6 the last two seasons as of this writing, there may not be a better spot for high school hoops in the region than the Fieldhouse.