COLUMBIA - Hickman High School unveiled its new gym Tuesday night. School officials last dedicated a new gym to the high school 54 years ago. The gym opened in time for Tuesday night's basketball game of Hickman vs. Rock Bridge High School.
"The Rock Bridge, Hickman rivalry may be the best cross-town rivalry in high school sports I've seen. Certainly in the state, if not the nation," Columbia Public Schools Superintendent Chris Belcher said. "And what better place to kick this off than with a cross-town game so that all the communities can come and enjoy."
The new gym is part of a $120 million bond issued in 2010. The gym was built along with a new football stadiu, career center, locker rooms, and additional accommodations. Those renovations cost $8.5 million dollars. The new gym is regulation-size, seats 1,300 students, and will be able to host district or state competitions.
"When you put freshmen in a high school, if you don't have two gymnasiums, you don't have enough P.E. space, enough space for practice and the various events that you have," Belcher said. "We knew the market was going to be pretty good for construction costs and interest rates, so we thought we could afford two gymnasiums so that all three high schools would have two quality gymnasiums to support the program."
At the dedication, the St. Charles Road Development Company presented school leaders a $500,000 check. Students and fans packed the new gym for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. School officials chose to tear down a building built in the 1950s to make room for the Career Center, which will house culinary arts, engine repair, computer design and similar subjects.
"We've been cramped for a long time," Belcher said. "We got a ten-year facility planned to get rid of trailers, and get better quality space. The old gym was built in 1958. It was 10 feet too short of regulation, it had a leaky roof, it had just ran its use."
School officials plan to dedicate a new auxiliary gym, along with new bleachers, to Rock Bridge in a week or two.
"We've really been needing these updates," Belcher said. "We are two of the largest high schools in the state of Missouri, and the only ones that I know that only have one gym. So this is really putting us to the level of space that we need to have a program."