History and Innovation Converge in Antelope Gym
The upcoming GCU basketball season is a hot topic on campus with the season to start this month, and preparations have been under way to help make this an incredible year for players and fans at the team’s first home game November 24. Over the summer, the University gave Antelope Gym a makeover, including cosmetic, safety and technology enhancements aimed at starting the new season in style.
Visitors will notice the colorful new wall panels in the lobby, which represent a 60-year tribute to GCU athletic programs. The six 7 by 4-foot panels feature photos of GCU athletes through the decades, including several who went on to professional fame, such as Major League baseball player Tim Salmon and Phoenix Suns player and coach Paul Westphal. Marketing Graphic Designer Ursula Suszko created the panels after painstakingly culling through more than a half-century of images and history, with the help of the Athletics, Events and Alumni teams.
The gym itself has been renovated to give it a fresh new look, as plans are under way to start broadcasting the games on television. Changes also were made to bring it up to date with NCAA and accessibility requirements. Enhancements players and fans will notice include:
- The floor was refinished and painted with fresh GCU artwork.
- New electronic bleachers include handrails and are wheelchair accessible.
- Purple and black pads were installed at each end of the court to protect athletes.
- Shot clocks were installed above the backboards to meet NCAA regulations.
- A new wireless scoreboard system was added, which can also operate the soccer scoreboard.
- A new lighting system brings new life to the gym, while meeting television broadcasting requirements.
More improvements are coming soon, including new baskets and backboards. Longer-term plans include installing air conditioning to replace the current evaporative cooling system so that the gym can be used for other events during the hot summer months.
Renovations are also in the works for GCU’s original North Gym, which is more than 50 years old, is both a practice facility for many of GCU’s athletic teams as well as a classroom for several courses. The gym also is an attraction for visitors because of its unique architecture and well-preserved condition, according to Ruth Ann Gardner, GCU Assistant Athletic Director. The gym still features the original floor, brickwork and a massive ceiling of arched wood rafters. Plans are under way replace the bleachers and scoreboards to keep the historic structure up to date.
Gardner says both gyms stay busy all day, every day. While the North Gym is often used for strength and conditioning, those activities will be moved to a proposed recreation center. The rec cetner will include an athletic training room, weight room and facilities that will help meet the strength and training demands for all athletes on campus, says Gardner.