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  • Writer's pictureMarc Viquez

Stardome - South Adams HS Starfires

Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29

Stardome 1000 Parkway St. Berne, IN 46711

Year Opened: 1972

Capacity: 2,800


Basketball Under the Lights in the Stardome

About a year ago I was in Northeast Indiana attending a basketball game at the Raiderdome at Southern Wells High School. I bumped into a family at Tyeger's Pizza Parlour and struck up a conversation with them. I told them that I was in the area to write a review of the basketball gym, and the wife indicated that I needed to check out the Stardome the next time I was in the area.

The South Adams Junior/Senior High School basketball program plays its home games at The Stardome, a dome-shaped facility that offers a capacity of 2,800 -- down from the 4,001 it held when it opened in 1972. The removal of the additional seating allows patrons to move around and view the game from multiple vantage points in the building.

During the pandemic, the capacity is maxed out at 250 per game during the 2020-2021 basketball season. However, it is an enjoyable experience for many in attendance who spend winter nights under the white-painted dome ceiling.

The athletic teams are known as the Starfires and depending on who you ask is the name for a different reason. The more popular version stems from its first principal’s car, an Oldsmobile Starfire. However, if you ask someone else, they might tell you something else.

The high school is in Berne, Indiana, and opened up for the academic school year of 1966-1967. The school was a consolidation of four Adams County high schools in Berne, Hartford, Jefferson, and Geneva. The basketball team had its best moments from 1989-1993 capturing a regional championship in 1993 and four sectional championships in 1989, 1990, 1992, and 1993.

Food & Beverage 3

Like with most other schools during the pandemic, the items at the concession stand are limited. The usual items of nachos, hot dogs, and pizza slices are unavailable. The options include prepackaged snacks, popcorn, candy, and bottled beverages. It is recommended to have something to eat before the game.

Atmosphere 3

The Stardome is a circular facility offering bleacher-style seating on both sides of the basketball court. The seating bowl is divided into two sections with a great view in either area, and the balcony offers the majority of the seating. There are usually seats for long-time fans and the elderly underneath one end of the basket.

The upper bowl area offers balcony views of the court down below and perhaps just as good as any other seat in the house, but there is not a bad one in the entire building. The open space also serves as the track for PE programs and can be accessed by two staircases at both ends of the concourse.

The school colors of black and yellow are decorated nicely throughout the facility with scoreboards on each end wall, athletic program championship banners, and the four previous high schools that merged into South Adams in 1966. The ceiling is painted entirely in white, and four American flags form a cube in the center point.

The center logo of the Starfire logo is a direct copy of the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics, but it is being used quite appropriately at the school. The hardwood court was installed sometime in the mid-1980s and replaced the rubbery tartan surface that is similar in feel to the upper-level track.

Neighborhood 2

Berne has a population of about 4,000 and features an ornate clock tower. The school is about a mile from the main center of town. The city was settled by Mennonite immigrants who named the town after the capital of their home country in Switzerland. It is not uncommon to see a horse and buggy on the state roads in and out of town.

The clock tower is located in Muensterberg Plaza and was constructed in 2010. The design is modeled after the Zytglogge in Bern, Switzerland, and the plaza features The Settler’s Statue commemorating the arrival of the first settlers and a series of flowerbeds that resemble quilting patterns.

The city's downtown structures are in an architectural Swiss chalet style. A few of these buildings consist of places to eat: the White Cottage, Alpine Rose Coffee Shop, and Happy’s Place bar. Outside of the downtown area is an East of Chicago pizzeria and a McDonald’s that offers signs in its parking lot in German: “Willkommen” and “Danke”.

Fans 3

A loyal group of fans cheers on both the junior varsity and varsity games. In other years the crowd would be much more than the 100 plus that made the trip to the Stardome. Depending on how well the team is doing also dictates the number of people in attendance. The Stars are playing .500 ball, but look to be a force later on in the county tournament.

One interesting tidbit is the acoustics in the building; when the buzzer goes off with a few people in attendance, the noise is deafening. One can only imagine what a packed gym would sound like with the noise bouncing off the domed structure.

Access 5

The gym is spacious and offers enough room for visitors to move around before and after the game. The concourses are wide at both ends of the upper and lower seating bowl, and staircases offer fans easy access to both parts of the dome. The upper level is perhaps the most spacious as a track circumnavigates the area.

Return on Investment 3

A ticket is $6 and includes lineup sheets at the table in front of the entrance. Food and beverages are mere snacks this season due to COVID-19, and they will average out in price of a couple of bucks. Depending on where you live in the state, the trip can be anywhere from 40 minutes from Ft. Wayne to a couple of hours from downtown Indianapolis. If you can, schedule a game here and at the Raiderdome (Southern Wells High School) or The Hangar (Adams Central High School). It makes for an ideal visit to Northeast Indiana basketball gyms in one day.

Extras 4

One point for the specialty design is water bottles with the Starfires logo. A second point for the Berne Clock Tower downtown and only a few miles from the high school. A final point for the design and roominess of the gymnasium. The field house uses pro baskets instead of the extended nets that hang from the ceiling. There is always something special about a dome basketball gym in Indiana, and The Stardome is among the distinctive ones.'

Final Thoughts

The Stardome stands out among the fieldhouses in Northeast Indiana. It was built at a time when many were giant boxes void of any character. Although the crowd was nowhere near where it should have been for a Saturday night in January, it was great to be back at a high school basketball game (in fact, any sporting event). The state is full of great gyms, and the home of the Starfires gets somewhat overlooked. It is a shame; the place is a winner.


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

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