Members of the Lower Valley community are invited to an open house next month at Toppenish High School to celebrate the unveiling of a new competition gymnasium that has been under construction for the past year.
The Aug. 16 celebration, from 5-7 p.m., will give local residents a chance to tour the new 36,000-square-foot facility, along with the upgraded stadium for football, soccer and track.
Toppenish School District Superintendent John Cerna said the community is going to be “amazed” when they see the new confines for themselves.
“I’ve been in a lot of gyms and stadiums over the years, and ours is going to be top of the line,” he said. “Our kids are going to have the best facilities money can buy.”
Cerna noted that the $10 million facility, built by Chervenell Construction, is now the largest gym between Yakima and Walla Walla — even bigger than the new gyms at Eisenhower and Davis high schools in Yakima. The enormous space will allow three separate basketball or volleyball practices to take place at once, plus more room for the wrestling team to spread out for practices and events.
Cerna said the gym can accommodate four mats and 2,500 fans for wrestling, and will hold 3,100 fans for basketball, allowing the school to host district and regional events.
“We want to host these district and state events because that revenue will help the school district and the community as a whole,” Cerna said. “Our youth sports clubs will make money off concessions when we host events, and our local businesses will also benefit from the extra activity in town. It really is going to benefit everyone.”
Toppenish has already been awarded the 2022 South Central Athletic Conference (SCAC) district wrestling tournament, and will be hosting Class 1A regional basketball games in February and March. A middle school wrestling tournament is also on the calendar for next winter.
The competition gymnasium was funded by a $16 million levy passed by voters in 2019 (which includes $4 million in state matching funds). The construction bids came in much lower than expected, which allowed the district to pour an additional $2.8 million into the stadium for a turf field, a remodeled track and new bleachers.
The indoor facility also features four classrooms — a training room, computer lab, lecture room and a school store for the Career and Technical Education (CTE) department — as well as four locker rooms, a commons area and three digital scoreboards/replay screens. Two of the locker rooms will be reserved for varsity basketball and volleyball players.
Cerna said he is overjoyed that the district is able to provide such quality amenities for students and their families.
“If I was a parent of a kid going to school right now, I would be so happy,” he said. “Our kids now have some of the nicest facilities in the state — and they deserve it.”
The first live event in the gym is expected to take place in early September when the high school volleyball season gets underway. Cerna also floated the possibility of a 3-on-3 basketball tournament to take advantage of the 12 hoops inside the gym and the additional hoops lining the building’s exterior.
With roughly $3 million left over from the 2019 levy, Cerna said more building projects are on the horizon, including a field house at the high school, a multipurpose room at the middle school, and two new tennis courts.
“We’re so thankful that we can give the community even more than what the original levy called for back in 2019,” he said. “These are class A facilities, and I think people are going to be amazed.”