Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43
Winchester Fieldhouse 399 Thompson St.
Winchester, IN 47394
Year Opened: 1951 Capacity: 2,300
Winchester Fieldhouse a Generation of Basketball
The Winchester Fieldhouse has been part of the community since its construction during the 1951-1952 school year. When it opened, it had a seating capacity of 3,000 and was the home of the sectional tournament for 23 years and various county tournaments. It is the home of the Winchester Community High School basketball program.
The boys' and girls' teams have had years of success, winning 15 and 19 sectional tournament titles, respectively. The girls made it to back-to-back state championship games in 2018 and 2019, while the boys made it to three state championships in 2002, 2007, and 2008. The boys and girls programs have 19 and 21 Randolph County Championship titles, respectively, as well.
The fieldhouse is now over 70 years old but is still a venerable part of town. In recent years it received LED lighting and a new floor surface. However, the original wiring, bathrooms, plumbing, and locker rooms are from the original construction. Most notable is the steam boiler heater that was installed in 1972; when the gym gets too hot, windows at the top of the bleachers have to be open, even in the dead of winter.
It has been said that once the boiler system outlives its usefulness, parts will be almost impossible to find and a new system would have to be installed. This could lead to a massive renovation of the building or a new one at the high school. It would be hard to imagine the Golden Falcons playing anywhere else but at their historic home.
Food & Beverage 4
There is a large area for concessions that feature two wide windows for quick and easy expediting during games. The menu options are similar to those found at other gyms throughout the state and include hot dogs, popcorn, candy, and nachos. However, there are additional items that make it difficult to choose what to eat.
The local Chicago Pizza locations offer pepperoni, cheese, and sausage slices for $2. The concession stand also sells hamburgers, cheeseburgers, nachos, and soft pretzels. Chili can serve on the nachos and hot dogs for an additional charge. The pork hot dogs are bigger than most gyms and are served in a steamed bun. If you have a sweet tooth, cotton candy, and caramel corn are additional options. Pepsi products are the drinks of choice in the building.
The historic gym is dripping with nostalgia from the signage and paneling on the walls, the multiple banners, and the original wooden bleachers in the upper section. The end lines are a few inches away from the padded walls, making it somewhat hazardous to dive for a ball underneath the basket.
The team rushes onto the court while the school fight song is sung by the cheerleaders. Fans stand up to sing and clap along. When the starters are introduced a few minutes later, the gym darkens for a light show while the Alan Parsons Project “Sirius”, AKA Chicago Bulls introduction theme, is played over the sound system. The cheer block and band wave their flashlights on their phones during the intro.
At half-time, anyone with a dollar comes down to take a shot at the basket for a chance to win a 2-liter bottle of soda pop. It is called Pop Shot and features mostly kids coming down to take a shot at the basket. Also, during half-time, the cheerleaders are introduced by name to the crowd.
At half-time, anyone with a dollar is asked to come down to take a shot at the basket for a chance to win a 2-liter bottle of soda pop. This is called Pop Shot and features quite a bit of contestants, mostly kids, coming down to take a shot at the basket. Also during half-time, the cheerleaders are introduced by name to the crowd.
Winchester is a town of close to 5,000 people in Randolph County. The fieldhouse is near the town square that offers a small movie theater and Chicago pizzeria. The two businesses are connected, offering flat TV screens. Roots by Tree Hills is a farm-to-table restaurant that specializes in stone-baked pizzas and subs, along with pulled pork and chicken. They are served in specialty sauces that include Alabama White, Peach Pepper, and Candy Apple BBQ sauces.
A few more places include Mrs. Coe’s Noodles for homemade noodle dishes, Mrs. Wick’s Restaurant for homemade pies, and A&B Cafe for late-night pub food and drinks. The Haines Hallmark Gift Shop & Soda Fountain is an old-fashioned drug store that serves up sodas, milkshakes, and ice cream floats at the counter. It has been a tradition in town since 1954.
It should be noted that many of these restaurants close early, except for the A&B Café.
The Falcon fans are supportive of both the girls' and boys' basketball teams; many have been attending games for decades. They clap along to the school song, let the referees know of plays they don't agree with, and focus on the game during the entire time. Many arrive early with seat cushions before the end of the JV game to grab a parking space in the adjacent lot.
Winchester is accessible via state and county roads from many parts of the state. The gym features three outer concourses to move around and staircases to the upper seating bowl. The concession area is massive and offers quick trips back to your seat with your food and drink.
Return on Investment 4
The Winchester Fieldhouse is worth the trip. Ticket prices for adults are $5, and concession prices range from $2 for a slice of pizza, soda pop, or a hot dog to $3 for nachos and burgers. The gym is dripping in history, the crowd is friendly, and some nice traditions take place during the game. However, many of the local restaurants and attractions are open before the game, so plan accordingly.
The Fieldhouse earns a point for the Pop Shot contest during half-time. A second point is awarded for the ambiance that includes old signage, banners in the rafters, and the smell of the building. The last point is for the food that is slightly above the norm at many high school gyms across the state of Indiana or even nearby Ohio.
The Winchester Fieldhouse is regarded as one of Indiana’s best smaller high school gyms. It is worth a visit and reminds us all that small-town basketball is alive and well. The building's history, tradition, fan involvement, and atmosphere make it a nice little trip during the basketball season.