MHS gym expansion to be explored
By Brian L. Gray
Long-term plans will soon start with the intention of expanding the space at the Mandan High School Auditorium.
The Mandan School Board has approved moving forward with receiving bids to replace the floor and the bleachers at the MHS gym, and to have its Facilities Committee begin making long range plans for an expansion of its entryway, restrooms and concessions.
Talks first started to update the gym when the owner of the Seven Seas, Shannon Gangl, approached Mandan Athletic Director Lorell Jungling with an interest in helping to fund a new gym floor. The school district began looking into buying new flooring when plans evolved into updating the bleachers as well.
The bleachers, Jungling said, are well worn and roughly 20 years old. Since redoing the gym floor would mean removing the bleachers, Jungling said this would be a good time to add new seating. “We would need to take out the bleachers to put in new floor, so we thought, ‘Why not do this at the same time?'” he said.
In addition to Gangl, a number of other parties are willing to offer money to the cause as well. The school district is now looking at how much the cost would be and “if the district has the resources available to get it done,” says Superintendent Mike Bitz. The school district would partner with the businesses to help pay for the costs.
The gym floor was last refinished about seven years ago, but Bitz says there have been complaints from players and coaches that injuries such as shin splints have been occurring due to the floor’s hard surface. “We’ve been hearing from our athletes that the spring in the floor isn’t as good as the floors others are playing on,” he says.
Gangl, who served as the president of the Mandan Backboard Boosters, has heard firsthand from both coaches and athletes on the condition of the floor. “It’s affecting our athletes, and people are aware that our gym is not in great shape,” he said. “We’re seeing all of these great things happening in Mandan, and I think now is a great time to upgrade this facility.”
The floor, Mandan architect Al Fitterer says, is roughly 50 years old and has been refinished several times. Each time the floor is refinished a fraction of an inch is shaved from the floor, and today playing on the gym is likened to “playing on a concrete floor,” Fitterer says.
The question of who pays what remains to be seen at this point. Costs to redo the floor and add new bleachers are anticipated to run up to $450,000, Fitterer said. In addition to those main projects, Fitterer said acoustic paneling and wall painted is needed in the gym as well.
The gym receives an average of 75,000 spectators each year.
If plans go as anticipated, work would begin in late May and be complete by the end of August, if funding is available.
Gangl said that if the project can’t be done this year, it could be delayed to another year and still receive the same level of community support it is receiving now.