Toppenish High School administrators would have been happy with the original construction timeline of August 2021 for their new competition gymnasium on the south end of campus.

Now, they could be hosting events there by the middle of June.

The general contractor, Chervenell Construction, had originally set a completion date of August for the 36,000-square-foot facility, but limited activity on campus this year due to remote learning has allowed crews to move the project forward at an accelerated clip.

“Chervenell has been great to work with, and the quality of work is phenomenal,” Top-Hi Athletic Director Brett Stauffer said of the Kennewick-based contractor. “They meet with us every week to go over progress, and so far, everything has been full speed ahead.”

The new gym — being funded by a $10 million improvement levy passed by local voters in 2019, plus $4 million in state matching funds — will feature a 94-foot collegiate-size basketball court (vs. the 84-foot standard size), four locker rooms, seating for 3,000 spectators and a commons area for ticketing and concessions.

Additional highlights include two classrooms, a training room, whirlpool baths, carpeted varsity locker rooms and an expanded parking lot. 

Stauffer said Top-Hi is looking forward to hosting tournaments for volleyball, basketball and wrestling as soon as this summer. The gym’s immense size will allow the school to host district and state regional games during the postseason, just like nearby Granger High School, which unveiled its new gym in 2018.

Davis and Eisenhower high schools in Yakima also qualify to host district tournaments and state regional contests thanks to gyms built there in recent years. The larger confines will also make Top-Hi a player at the district and regional high school levels. Plus, the facility will be a more attractive site for youth club tournaments.

“We want to host everything we can,” Stauffer said. 

Like a number of other schools in Central Washington, Top-Hi is overdue for a new indoor sports facility. The current high school gym lacks enough seating (only 800) to stage varsity events, meaning the wrestling team, volleyball team and both basketball teams typically host their events at the larger A.J. Strom Gymnasium at Toppenish Middle School.

But starting this summer, there will be enough room to run three full-court games of basketball or volleyball simultaneously, separated by curtains. The existing gym can also be put to use for practices and tournaments. In addition, four wrestling mats can be used at once, instead of the three that fit inside the middle school gym. 

That’s good news for the perennial state champion Wildcats.

“A.J. has been a good gym, but after 75 years, we’re ready for an upgrade,” Stauffer said. “We are excited to start bringing in more people from outside the area again so we can help out our district and the local economy.”

Assuming the project remains on time and on budget, the district is exploring the possibility of installing turf on Bob Winters Field in Wildcat Stadium. Stauffer said the district saved money when the bids came in lower than expected, meaning there are additional levy dollars that can be put to good use. 

The turf proposal was expected to go to the school board in late February.