Screenshot of Tribune photo from its selection of 20 great High School gymnasiums in Illinois. | Original photo by Chris Sweda
Sunday, February 21, 2016 || Originally Published: Chicago Tribune || By Bob Hurst & Tribune Staff
What makes a high school gymnasium great? According to the Tribune’s staff, it helps for the gym to be old and big. The 20 venues represented here were built between 1921 and 1974, with 17 of the 20 more than 50 years old. Sixteen of the 20 can seat 2,000 or more fans. The list covers the entire state, from Chicago and its suburbs to the Mississippi River to far southern Illinois. These gyms have stood the test of time and continue to provide red-hot atmospheres on cold winter Friday nights.
Coming in at No. 16
Proviso East Field House || Built: 1938 || Capacity: 2,200.
Why it’s great: A basketball game is an experience at Proviso East, with potential future stars being watched occasionally by stars from the past who stop by to visit, and some alumni who never miss a game. The U-shaped seating includes a balcony with prominent white pillars. The drum beat coming from the band in the upper deck can’t be missed as it echoes throughout the building. There have been four state basketball championships for Proviso East, in 1969 (led by Jim Brewer); 1974 (Joe Ponsetto), 1991 (Donnie Boyce, Michael Finley, Sherrell Ford) and 1992 (Ford), as well as a second-place finish in 2012 and fourth in 2013. Proviso East was the site of the men’s and women’s volleyball matches in the Pan American Games in 1959, and its wrestling teams won 10 state titles between 1937 and 1991.
—Bob Hurst VFP