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  • Writer's pictureMarc Viquez

Whiting Memorial Gym – Whiting Oilers



Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.14

Whiting Oilers 1751 Oliver St. Whiting, IN 46394


Whiting Memorial Gym website


Year Opened: 1950

Capacity: 2,400

 

There are many great high school gyms in the state of Indiana. However, many of them in "The Region'' sometimes get overlooked. One of them is the Whiting Memorial Gymnasium. It is close to 75 years old and has the aesthetics of an old hockey barn that transports the audience to another era of high school hoops in the Hoosier State.


Whiting High School built the gym for its basketball team. The dedication game took place on November 20, 1951. The gym had been in the planning stages for three years by the board of education to replace the school’s former gym, which held only 500 people. 


The Oilers were somewhat of a powerhouse over a century ago, with three sectional championships between 1921 and 1924. It would take almost 60 years to win another one when the school finished the 1980-1981 school year with a 16-4 record before capturing the sectional tournament title.


Food & Beverage 3


The gym has a concession stand that offers hot dogs, nachos, soft pretzels, candy, and soda pop (can or bottle). There is a spot where fans can top their hot dogs or nachos with jalapenos. The prices range from $2 for a pretzel to $3 for a hot dog or a pretzel. However, customers should bring cash since the building does not accept credit cards.


Atmosphere 4


The gym looks old, feels old, and smells old. That is a good thing because there’s something about this place that sets it apart from other gyms in the state. The arena’s ceiling features exposed steel trusses, and all of the seating is on the upper balcony of the building, which features hand railings and color-coded sections. 


The majority of the seats are painted red, white, and blue (even though some of the colors have faded). The paint was donated by Mobil Oil in time for the Bicentennial in 1976 and never repainted almost 50 years later. However, they add a unique aesthetic to the old-school fieldhouse. It has created a debate on whether the colors were for the Mobil or our country.


The seating puts fans in a unique perspective on the action on the court. The theater-style seats offer a bit of comfort compared to collapsible bleachers, and one feels like they have stepped back in time when watching a basketball game. 


There are multiple banners of school championships on the walls, the concourse floors and walls have the same design they had in 1950, and old signage directing fans to the bathrooms, seating, and concession stands also add to the nostalgia.


The gym was constructed as a memorial to fallen soldiers with the respect of removing one's hat in their honor. That rule is no longer enforced, according to the principal. 


Neighborhood 4


Memorial Gym is located in a residential neighborhood a block from downtown and a few miles further away by car on US-41.  There are many regional and independent restaurants, bars, shops, and coffee shops to choose from before the basketball game.


There are many Mexican restaurants, including San Luis, La Michoacana (ice cream), Dos Sabores, and The Taco Dive. Beggars Pizza is a regional chain that specializes in Chicago thin-style pizza, and Center Lounge and Grillers are ideal spots for pub food. The Bulldog Brewing Company and The Standard Taproom are great places for a drink or two. 


Whiting is home to the Mascot Hall of Fame, which honors the sport's best mascot and offers interactive exhibits for children. Oil City Stadium is the home of the NW Indiana Oilmen of the Northern League, but they are off until the beginning of June. The city is only 16 miles from Chicago.


Fans 2


Whiting High School has an enrollment of 420 students, and it shows in the stands. There is only a sprinkling of people for the game, with students hanging out on the pullout bleachers. According to the school principal, there hasn’t been a packed house in about 30 years. 


Access 3


The gym is next to the high school, a block from downtown, but not visible to first-time visitors. A small parking lot directly outside the school’s doors. Four main staircases lead fans to the seating on the upper level.


There is seating on the main floor for fans, with plenty of room to enjoy the game. There are additional bathrooms and a concession stand on the main floor. 


Return on Investment 3


The gym itself is worth the price of admission, but there is not a lot of other excitement beyond that. The crowds are small, the cheer block is missing, and it can be a very soundless game from a crowd perspective. Fans will enjoy the banter from the players and sidelines, cheerleaders make their presence felt, and concession prices are reasonable, but it is cash only.


Extras 3


Whiting Memorial Gym earns a point for its design, which features theater-style seating on the upper balcony level, an arched roof, steel trusses and beams, and color-coded seats. The gym earns a second point for its jalapenos that fans can add to their nachos at the concession stand.


Final Thoughts


Whiting Memorial Gym is one of those arenas that is a time capsule. It does not look like other current high school gymnasiums. It offers fans a chance to watch a basketball game in a special setting with theater-style seating and views that are on top of the court.  It might be one of my top five fieldhouses in the state.


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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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