When the North Gym at Davis High opened in 2002, it was lauded as a much-needed, joint-use facility.
There is no arguing that it has taken the pressure off of scheduling for Blue Devil functions ranging from school assemblies to sporting events to rainy-day athletic practices.
The city runs youth and adult basketball programs in the gym and has drop-in volleyball programs, as does the high school.
It seats 1,900, has a ticket office, concession stand, storage, ready rooms and restrooms.
At first blush, it’s a palace.
Giving it a longer study, it might be better served as the new home of the Davis Aerospace Museum.
The ceilings are in the clouds: tram trips for maintenance of the so-so sound system and horrible lighting.
With seating on west and east sides, rarely are both stands extended. Thanks to the mixed results from the DHS boys basketball program, crowds rarely top 400, making the place still look empty. The sound of the fan support is swallowed by the barren acoustics.
By comparison, 250 fans in the intimate South Gym (known as The Cage) turns the venue into a home-team paradise for the Lady Blue Devils.
A quick look at the DHS boys’ record (94-152) over that past 10 years shows that they’ve played .358 ball (38-68) at home; .399 (56-85) on the road. No home-court advantage.
In contrast, DVC and Monticello Empire League teams have played .552 at home in those last 10 seasons. The .482 road winning percentage shows a marked difference between home and away.
The disco environment at Grant, the greenhouse that is Elk Grove and the miniature mayhem that can be created at cozy MEL facilities each add to an environment that means trouble for the visitors.
In The Hangar at Davis, even the college-size basketball court contributes to a lack of ambience come game time.
Championship banners hang proudly in the rafters, but are currently snow-covered waaaaay up near the west-end of the roof. To see what they’re for, helicopter rides are provided on May 6 and Sept. 4. It would be nice to admire the 115 Sac-Joaquin Section titles our Blue Devils have won.
So what does this all mean?
Whatever mental mud sticks in your brain from this, two things are without dispute: 1) The Hangar provides another venue for cool programs like recreation basketball and shelter from the storms; 2) it is no place to feel warm and fuzzy about your home-town boys basketball team.
But there is help on the way …
DHS Athletic Director Dennis Foster is in the organizational stages of the Blue Devil Legacy Project.
Foster tells me his game plan is to bring to the North Gym a sense of Davis High history that will catch the eye of visiting and home fans alike.
Somewhere in storage and in the garages at former coaches’ homes sit Blue Devil team trophies, memorabilia and historical photos that should be “proudly displayed,” says Foster.
He wants the gym’s entryway to have a big trophy case (it has to be big given our school’s history). Above on the wall, classily framed portraits would give fans a glimpse of Denise Curry, Ron Bryant, Laurynne Chetelat and Craig Wilson among others.
He wants to spruce up the interior, the walls around the court. Bricks are bad both at the free-throw line and holding up the structure. More portraits, says Foster. A checklist of recent section crowns? Maybe. Just made the place more inviting.
Foster says he’ll be reaching out to community members and perhaps service clubs to see what can be done.
If I were Foster, I’d add some pork barrel to his Legacy Project: improved (or new) lighting and a sound system that is clear and gentle when necessary.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed that there’s support for Foster’s vision.
Maybe they’ll get to add a Delta Valley Conference basketball championship banner to the mix. It sure feels right so far.
But don’t just take my word for it, see for yourself on Friday night when the Blue Devil boys host Grant at 7 p.m.
— Bruce Gallaudet is a staff writer for The Davis Enterprise. Reach him at [email protected] or 530-747-8047.