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  • Writer's pictureMarc Viquez

Wade E. Miller Arena - Middletown High School Middies


Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29

Wade E. Miller Arena 601 N Breiel Blvd. Middletown, OH 45042



Year Opened: 2017

Capacity: 2,410

 

Middletown Middies New Chapter in Basketball

The next chapter of Middletown High School basketball debuted on December 9, 2017, with the opening of Wade E. Miller Arena. The hometown Middies new home replaced the iconic Wade E. Miller Gym that had been its home since 1952.


The Miller Arena is part of a $96 million project that has seen renovations to the adjacent high school and the addition of a new middle school. The arena has a capacity of 2,140 with ample standing-room-only spaces around the court’s upper perimeter. The other additions feature improved lighting and sound system, a walking track, a strength center, an athletic office, a community room, trophy cases, a strength center, and a wrestling room.


The school’s most famous alumnus is basketball Hall of Famer Jerry Lucas who guided the Middies to back-to-back state championships in 1956 and 1957, including a 76-game winning streak and 63 points in his final game. Lucas later stated that he never lost a game at the old Miller Gym during both his junior and senior high school playing career.


Other alumni include NFL Hall of Famer Cris Carter who ranks seventh with 1,299 points on the court and current Chicago Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber who posted a .408 career average on the diamond while with the Middies baseball team.


Food & Beverage 3

There is one area for concessions and it is located inside the high school down a short hallway. The area is large enough that tables are set up for fans to sit and talk while they eat before or during halftime of the game.


The usual high school snacks are available, but the one to try is the Peil Dog which is topped with pickled jalapeno peppers and melted nacho cheese sauce; it’s also a bargain. All of the menu items are no more than $2-3, except Chick-fil-A sandwiches which seem somewhat steeper in price per sandwich in comparison to the other items on the menu.


The other items include pizza slices, hot dogs, pretzels, and bottle pop for $2, nachos for $2.50, and brats for $3. Patrons can also enjoy popcorn, candy, and water for just a buck.


Atmosphere 3

Miller Arena has that wow factor the moment you walk through the front door. The bright lighting, wide concourses, school colors of purple and plastic seating create beautiful aesthetics not found at too many other gymnasiums of its kind throughout the area.


The arena is equipped with four 9-foot by 12-foot video LED scoreboards at four corners that provide scores, game time, and advertising space. The court, named after Lucas, is emblazoned with a small purple M inside a giant wood-grained M that is tilted.


There is quite a bit of purple that easily identifies to the untrained eye that Middletown bleeds purple. The color is everywhere from signage, doors, plastic bucket seating, and murals that are featured on all four sides of the building. The exterior color is also offset by brick and cream coloring.


The arena is new, but there is a ton of history with trophy cases displaying jerseys of former basketball greats, championship trophies, and photographs of past teams. There are retired numbers on display along with the school’s six state championship banners-tied for most in the state of Ohio. Fans easily can view all of these displays throughout the wide concourse that also serves as a walking track on non-game days.


Before tip-off, Cris Carter is featured in an introduction video that highlights the basketball team's history through videos and photos. The band plays the school song while the home crowd points their index fingers to the center of the court. The tradition has been performed before every game at Middletown for many years.


Neighborhood 3

Middletown is in between the major cities of Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio, and near the campus of Miami University. The 48,702 town offers a few nice places to eat and drink before or after the game.


Comb’s BBQ is a cute little spot that has a decor of old knickknacks ranging from guitars, neon lights, signage, and an old phone booth. The barbecue is affordable and delicious. The smoked wings are a bargain at 6 for $5, pulled pork and brisket sandwiches are large enough to fill you up ranging from $6.25-$8 each, sides are extra.


Just down the street is Stefano’s Italian Cafe which is famous for wood-fired pizza and calzones, affordable sandwiches (all cost $6.95), and house specialties that include veal, chicken, seafood, and pasta dishes. Downtown offers a rarity, Rolling Mills Brewing Company a gluten-free brewery that serves both a lager and pilsner.


The Sorg Opera House was recently refurbished and hosts live concerts. The historic venue first opened in 1891 and was recently closed for six years before being bought and renovated. Located 17 miles south of Middletown is Jungle Jim's International Market, the Disney World of supermarkets offering everything from beer, wine, cheese, produce, cigars, international foods, and so much more. Grab a pint at the bar and have a drink while you shop for products from around the world.


Fans 3

The Middies fans are your typical basketball crowd made up of students, alumni, and parents who cheer on their home team to victory. They create a nice ambiance that begins with the singing of the school’s fight song and create noise to inspire the boys on the court.


Access 4

The spacious arena offers plenty of areas to walk around, sit, and locate bathrooms and concessions. There is also plenty of parking outside the building and its location near I-75 makes it convenient for visitors driving from Dayton or Cincinnati.


Return on Investment 3

The price of tickets and concession items are affordable to all visitors. The price of an adult ticket is $6 with most concession items no more than $2.50. There is plenty of parking in front of the arena which is free.


Extras 4

There is one point for the purple, black, white, and gray murals that are displayed in all four sections of the building which add quite a flare to the game. The arena gets a second point for the 6 championship banners and retired numbers that chronicle the school’s basketball program and history.


A third point towards the LED video boards and sound system that gives the high school arena a slightly different feel than other similar gyms in both Ohio and neighboring Indiana. A fourth point to the Peil Dog features jalapenos and nacho cheese sauce on a hot dog. A simple tweak to the traditional menu options that other high schools overlook.


Final Thoughts

The Miller Arena hopes not only to be a gem of a basketball arena in Ohio but a centerpiece to the community of Middletown. There are many classic basketball gymnasiums in the area offering history and a plethora of memories; that should be the case 50 years from now with the Miller Arena.


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Follow all of Marc’s stadium journeys on Twitter @ballparkhunter and his YouTube channel. Email at Marc.Viquez@stadiumjourney.com


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