BHS gym renovation

The removal of the front row of seats in the bleachers on the east side of the Baker High School gym later this month will create room for players and coaches to sit on chairs, and allow spectators to walk behind the teams rather than in front.

A renovation project planned this winter inside the Baker High School gym is designed to benefit athletes and spectators alike.

The Baker School District will replace the two scoreboards with new digital units, and the one on the north wall of the gym will display more information than the current board, said Buell Gonzales Jr., the district’s athletic director.

The new north scoreboard will list the number of points and fouls for up to six players from both teams.

Because both of the new scoreboards are digital, the names of the two teams can be changed for every game. The current boards show home and away, and during the district and state Class 1A tournaments, a worker in a power lift has to manually place the teams’ names before each game.

Eliminating that requirement is one reason that Baker County Tournaments, the nonprofit that organizes the two annual Class 1A tournaments, contributed $5,000 to the $27,000 cost for the two scoreboards, said Kathy Taylor, chair of the organization.

“All of the score clock upgrades will enhance the experience of the participants in the tournaments and for our local players,” Taylor said.

The School District also contributed $5,000, Gonzales said. The balance was raised through donations, including from Coca-Cola.

The new scoreboards also have the ability to show a shot clock. Although Oregon high school basketball games don’t use a shot clock now, Gonzales said that’s all but certain to change.

The new system also has clocks in each of the four locker rooms, so teams can track how much time is left in a game, or for halftime.

The locker room clocks eliminate the need for a tournament official to notify teams about the amount of time left.

The new scoreboards are slated to arrive around late January, Gonzales said.

The other major change coming to the BHS gym involves the bleachers.

Taylor said officials from the Oregon School Activities Association have talked with tournament directors for the past three years about moving the bleachers back by one row, on each side of the gym, to create a wider buffer between the court and the bleachers.

Gonzales said the current schedule calls for the bleachers to be moved back on the east side of the gym — where the teams sit — during the third week of January.

The change on the west side probably won’t happen this year, he said. The first row on that side is blocked off during the tournaments.

The top row of bleachers will be removed, and the bleachers moved back. That will allow players and coaches to sit on chairs rather than on the first row of bleachers as is the case now. By moving the coaches and players onto chairs, there will be room for spectators to walk behind the teams rather than in front. Under the current configuration, fans have to walk on the court itself when passing in front of the teams.

Because the top row of bleachers will be removed, spectators will no longer be able to access the main section of bleachers from the upper level, where a second, smaller set of bleachers stands, Gonzales said.

Fans sitting in the main section will have to reach their seats from the main floor.

Gonzales said the school district and Baker County Tournaments will share the cost of the bleacher changes. He didn’t have an estimated cost for the work.

“These improvements make an already ideal venue for the 1A tournament even better,” said Kelly Foster, associate director for the OSAA and the association’s on-site representative in Baker City.“The locker room clocks especially are a nice feature for coaches and event staff, eliminating the task of communicating with teams regarding the timing of when to take the floor prior to the game and at the end of halftime.

"State tournament participants and spectators alike will enjoy the upgrades to the scoreboard and sound system," Foster said.

The 2020 state tournaments are set for March 4-7 at BHS.

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