The proposed new gymnasium at Houston Schools would be one of the largest in the region.

Construction blueprints for the facility indicated Phase I – which will be voted in Tuesday’s election – would provide 1,650 seats. Phase 2 would add another 500 seats.

The 2,100 seats would triple the seating capacity of Hiett Gymnasium, which holds about 700 people. It would be larger than the 1,650 at Cabool High School and equal to the 2,100 at Mountain Grove High School.

Dr. Allen Moss, superintendent, said the district plans to use the additional gym space for tournaments, shootouts and to bid for postseason play. Although there are no guarantees Houston would host playoff games, Moss pointed out at Tuesday’s public forum that the community’s central location is attractive. The softball and baseball programs are both hosting districts in 2019.

ROB HARRINGTON

ROB HARRINGTON

Rob Harrington, Houston’s economic developer, said at the forum the economic benefit for the community could be a significant one for tournaments and other events. He said if 500 people visiting the town averaged spending $25 per person, economists estimate it would generate $18,750. Harrington said he believes those numbers are low but provide a nice guide.

Moss said the district would use the new gymnasium for graduation, which is currently held outdoors at the football stadium.

The school board voted in January to seek a new gymnasium. The construction would include bathrooms, hallways, locker rooms, training rooms and connecting all classes inside Hiett Gymnasium. It would also begin to close the gap to the rear of the middle school building.

Hiett Gymnasium, which was built in 1964, would be renovated to make its main function for extra-curricular events such as choir and band concerts. Acoustic panels would be mounted to the walls and a large portable stage would be constructed. It would also continue to double as a practice facility and possibly be used for additional courts for tournaments. Middle school basketball games would be moved there as well.

The measure requires 4/7 voter approval.

2019 Houston Schools bond issue

The final renditions of a proposed new gymnasium at Houston Schools.

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