Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57
Raider Dome 9120 S 300 W. Poneto, IN 46781
Year Opened: 1967
Welcome to The Raider Dome
The Raider Dome opened in 1967 and is home to the Southern Wells Jr./Sr. High School basketball program. The dome debuted the same year as the high school after the four remaining southern township schools of Southern Wells country agreed to consolidate for the 1966/1967 school year.
Those four last schools of Chester Center, Jackson Center, Liberty Center, and Petroleum Center have banners hanging in the gymnasium as a reminder to all who walk the concourse of this magnificent basketball arena. The small gym holds a cozy 2,223 fans and is situated between State Road 218 and 18. It is indeed a nice little find.
The domed ceiling dominates the entire building with multiple LED lights and its dark brown color. The 50-plus-year-old facility is in great shape and looks somewhat more modern than its actual age. The basketball nets used to hang from the ceiling but it was discovered several years ago that it was harming the roof and soon replaced. During practice roll away nets have to be brought into the gym.
Food & Beverage 3
There is a concession stand outside the gymnasium in the main lobby with prices that are much cheaper compared to other high school gyms. The hot dogs are just a buck and cost a dollar more if you want to add cheese or chili, pretzels, popcorn sells, and nachos. Bottled soda is available and there are even ice cream sundaes offered in the main concourse by the track and field team for $3 that support their program at every home game.
There is a lot to like about the Raider Dome beginning with the moment you walk through the main entrance. The ceiling design is majestic and dominates the interior with multiple LED lights. The white walls are decorated nicely with murals, red and white championship banners, and blue tiling to add a little pop to the place. There are two murals featuring a display of basketball players while the one on the opposite side of the gym spells out the words Raider Dome.
The main concourse wraps around the upper-level seating area which are pull-out brown bleachers that also house a couple of scoreboards at each end. The area is also a common area for fans to mingle during the game. There are several tables offering ice cream sundaes and railings where you will find several people standing above the court, getting a bird’s eye view of a drive to the net.
The team puts on an energetic pregame show where the lights are dimmed and a spotlight is shined on each home player who makes his way off the bench and onto the court. Once the tip-off has concluded the focus is on the game, but there also might be a few side conversations from the fans in the audience.
The Raider Dome is on the county road and several miles from the nearest restaurant or service station. The town of Bluffton is a 15-minute drive and offers several eateries and a downtown square with a few more options that are worthy to discover before tip-off.
Yergy’s State Road BBQ serves award-winning barbecue and reasonable prices and might be a great option for dinner before the basketball game. The local joint features smoked chicken, brisket, and pulled pork platters and stuffed potatoes, burgers, tacos, and barbecue nachos.
Tyeger’s Pizza Parlor is another local favorite for pizzas, subs, and calzones. However, it is the restaurant’s take on its crispy, thin pizza that turns heads. The Country Cork pizza featured sausage, corn, and mushrooms and was inspired by the pizzas the owners saw in Ireland. There are also pizzas of the month that range from Irish Stew pie, Ruben pie, and the Chicago dog pie.
Billy Ann’s Supper Pub opens at 5 pm and offers a selection of home-cooked meals and a wide variety of beers in a hip setting. There are daily food and drink specials that provide another great place to grab a bite to eat before the game.
The local populace does its best to support the Raiders on the court and is decked out in team colors of red and blue. The gym is never at full capacity and it does not necessarily have to be to notice the great fan support that this team gets during the cold winter months in Southern Wells County.
The high school is located about 30 miles south of Ft. Wayne and 20 miles east of I-69 through a few twists and turns on state roads. The use of a GPS will help guide visitors to the high school and gymnasium and once inside, offers two levels of seating that offer easy access during the game. Bathrooms and concession stands are located in the main lobby of the gymnasium.
Return on Investment 3
The cost of a ticket is $6 and is on par with other gyms in Hoosier State. The price of concessions is among the cheapest in the area and provides the ideal snacking food for enjoyment during a game.
The Raider Dome receives a point for its magnificent domed ceiling that looms brightly up above both the court and seating areas. The gym itself is kept up rather nicely.
The Raider Dome receives a second point for the two murals on each end of the building that add a nice touch to the aesthetics of the place.
The Raider Dome receives the third point for its various vantage points that help eases congestion and give visitors a unique look at the game from up above.
The Raider Dome receives a final point for the ice cream sundaes that are served by the track and field team at every home game. You can also get ice cream served with a brownie or in a cup by itself.
The Raider Dome is a rather distinctively designed building that features an equally impressive interior design. The colors pop brilliantly inside the venue, the crowd is passionate, and the local restaurant scene has a lot to offer in variety. A great small-time gym located just south of Ft. Wayne and a 90-minute drive from Indianapolis. It is a nice place to check out to get your fix on high school basketball in Indiana.