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Standing before hundreds of cheering fans packed into the stands at the new Delmar Fieldhouse, HISD Board President Wanda Adams began to pump up the crowd.
“We need to get this party started! Are y’all ready?” she hollered, clapping her hands above her head as she led the fans in a celebratory cheer.
“What does that spell?” she yelled, as the crowd roared back: “Delmar!”
Adams was among hundreds who gathered Friday to dedicate and celebrate the 5,000-seat Delmar Fieldhouse, which was constructed as part of the district’s 2012 Bond Program. The new fieldhouse will host basketball and volleyball games and tournaments, as well as graduation ceremonies and other special events.
Much like a basketball game, the mood was celebratory, with music playing through the speakers, student athletes in the stands, and cheerleaders helping to generate excitement from the court sidelines.
“I want to thank the Houston voters for passing the 2012 bond,” HISD Director of Athletics and UIL Activities Marmion Dambrino told the crowd. “This facility is long overdue for our student athletes. We would always advance to playoffs and participate with other school districts, and our kids saw what ‘nice and new’ looked like. Now y’all have your nice and new.”
The 139,874-square-foot facility has a maple court floor that is removable and expandable, suiting both the 84 feet required for high school games and the 94 feet required for NCAA play. The lower level seating is retractable, allowing for additional floor space and flexibility, if needed.
It also features modern locker and training rooms, HISD Athletics Department offices, and athletics storage for the existing outdoor stadium and field, which can be viewed from a balcony on the second floor. The entrance to the arena also showcases a portion of the center court floor from the original Delmar Fieldhouse.
“I take pride when it comes to athletics because athletics groomed me to become the person I am today,” Adams said. “I honor all the players that will have the opportunity to play on this court. I am so proud of what you have accomplished, and of what this team has accomplished in building what I consider is state-of-the-art.”
Other dignitaries in attendance included HISD Board of Education Trustees Jolanda Jones, Rhonda Skillern-Jones and Mike Lunceford, and HISD Superintendent Richard Carranza.
Superintendent Carranza told the crowd he was thrilled to be celebrating the new facility. But he noted that those who think of it as just a basketball or volleyball court are missing the bigger picture.
“This is a classroom,” Carranza said. “When you come here to compete or you come here to cheer for our students, what you’re doing is coming into a classroom where our students learn about teamwork; where our students learn about work ethic; where they learn about lifting their effort commensurate to what the challenge is; where they work hard to achieve goals and practice sportsmanship; where they can win with dignity and they can lose with honor.”
Following the ceremonial ribbon-cutting, guests were invited to participate in guided tours of the $35.2 million facility. They also were invited to come back later that afternoon as boys’ basketball teams from eight HISD high schools were set to take to the court for the facility’s inaugural basketball games. Match ups included Houston vs. Westside, Yates vs. Washington, Lamar vs. Bellaire, and Heights vs. Chavez.
“This place is beautiful. We came in with pride, and we couldn’t be more excited to open it up,” Westside High School Head Basketball Coach Deon Williams said Friday as his team prepared for their first game in the new facility.
Many student athletes shared his sentiments.
“It’s exciting that we’re the first game. It’s our chance to get the first victory,” said Jacob Wiley, basketball player for Sam Houston Math, Science, and Technology Center. “Everything is really nice and new. I think it will give us more drive to play harder.”
Delmar Fieldhouse is one of many projects in the 2012 bond program, which calls for the rebuilding or renovating of 40 schools, including 29 high schools. Active construction is currently underway on roughly three dozen projects — more building activity than at any other time in district history.
Almost half of the schools in the program will be complete and open to students by the end of this summer. Once all work is finished, the district will boast of one of the most modern portfolios of urban high schools in the country.
For more information on HISD building programs, visit www.BuildHISD.org.