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‘Hoosiers’ gym is in need of repairs

November 8, 2012

The 90-year-old Hoosier Gym in Knightstown

    KNIGHTSTOWN, Ind. (AP) — An effort is under way to upgrade one of the most prominent tourism destinations in Henry County.
    The Hoosier Gym Community Center seeks to raise funds for a new roof over the lobby of the facility.
    While the 90-year-old gym itself is intact, water damage is visible in the lobby from the leaky roof. The lobby is where historic photographs and movie memorabilia are kept.
    The fundraiser has been titled ‘‘Raise the Roof’’ and will feature a dinner and a movie Nov. 10 at 6 p.m. in the Hoosier Gym.
    ‘‘Draper is building us a big screen that’s going to be on the stage,’’ Hoosier Gym Secretary Tom Hoepf told The Courier-Times in New Castle ( ). ‘‘It’s going to be first class.’’
    A pork dinner will be provided by Tompkins’ BBQ with a showing of the movie ‘‘Hoosiers’’ to follow.
    The movie will be in Blu-ray format featuring deleted scenes. Moments from the 1954 Indiana High School Championship Game between Milan and Muncie Central will also be shown.
    ‘‘Teams will be playing scrimmages throughout the day,’’ Hoepf said. ‘‘Hopefully it will become an annual event.’’
    It has been 26 years since ‘‘Hoosiers’’ was released, but Knightstown is still benefiting today from the exposure.
    A recent example was sports columnist Bill Simmons writing of his experience at the Hoosier Gym in February for ESPN. Simmons described his visit as ‘‘13 out of 10.’’
    The lobby houses photos of celebrities who have visited and even a photo shoot of the Vince Lombardi Trophy of the National Football League on the court.
    ‘‘If it were not for the movie, we would not have been able to keep the gym open,’’ Hoepf said. ‘‘Through donations and rentals we keep it open.’’
    The gym has been host to private parties like wedding receptions for $300 a night to provide cash flow.
    ‘‘We don’t get any real support,’’ Hoepf said. ‘‘The town owns it, but we generate our own income.’’
    Hoepf said the roof over the gym was renovated in the 1990s in a state program called Build Indiana. Through state funding the gym received a new roof, windows, lighting, heating and air conditioning. The roof over the lobby was not replaced in that renovation.
    While the gym obviously has historic value, Hoepf said it cannot be among the National Register of Historic Places in Indiana because of the use it sees. The historic designation would allow for some potential grants.
    ‘‘We have to keep it a working gym because we play basketball in here,’’ Hoepf said. ‘‘We can’t keep it in original condition. So you get your hands tied sometimes that way.’’
    Maintaining the gym includes replacing the floor once a year because of heavy use.
    ‘‘You just want to keep it looking nice and good traction for playing on it,’’ Hoepf said. ‘‘People play on it every week so it gets a lot of wear and tear. We try to put a fresh surface and finish down every year.’’
    Tickets to the Raise the Roof event cost $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and younger. Tickets can be bought at the Hoosier Gym, the Knightstown Chamber of Commerce and sponsoring banks in Knightstown. New Castle residents can purchase tickets at the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.
    Information from: The Courier-Times,

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