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SAC is 20 years old

Happy Birthday SAC! Today marks the 20th anniversary of the Salthawk Activity Center. The first games in the gym were against Ark City on Jan. 15, 1999.

Yes, once upon a time, Sammy had no home to call his own for basketball. Games were played across the street at the Sports Arena, which swallows up regular high school games.

So, how about a "Throwback Tuesday?" Below is the news release announcing the opening of the SAC in January 1999.

Remember, all the details below should be read in the "past tense."

The public is invited to take a first look at the Salthawk Activities Center from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 10, 1999, at 13th and Obee Plaza, adjacent to Hutchinson High School.

The first official Salthawk varsity basketball games in the Activities Center will be the Winter Homecoming contests on Jan. 15 (1999) against Arkansas City. Previously, HHS played its home games across the street in the city-owned Sports Arena.

The $3.3 million project is an example of successful intergovernmental cooperation. On April 1, 1997, USD 308 voters approved a $2.7 million bond issue. Also contributing to construction costs are private donors, the city of Hutchinson and the Hutchinson Recreation Commission.

The multipurpose facility was constructed on the south end of the South Gymnasium. It seats about 3,000 people, enough to allow Hutchinson High School to conduct school-wide assemblies for the first time. Previously, the 1,500-member student and faculty body had to attend assemblies in three shifts.

The main gymnasium floor, constructed of residential white maple, can be divided into three basketball, volleyball courts or tennis courts or 12 badminton courts.

The bond issue also paid for significant improvements to the South Gymnasium. The project added seating to the gymnasium, which will allow junior varsity games and other contests to be played there.

Other facts about the project:

  • The Salthawk Activities Center is air-conditioned and handicapped accessible, allowing for year-round use by all.
  • The locker rooms double as a storm shelter for HHS students and faculty.
  • The facility’s elevator makes the upper level of “A” Hall at Hutch High handicapped accessible.
  • The building contains two concession areas and a place for a spirit store.
  • The gymnasium floor, made with residential white maple, is one of only two such gymnasium floors in Kansas with the other at Pittsburg State University.
  • The U.S. flag displayed in the facility was flown over the United States Capitol on April 1, 1997, the same day voters approved bonds for the building.
  • The mezzanine walking area requires 10 laps to the mile.

More than 58 percent of voters approved the financing plan. Under the plan, USD 308 will pay for its portion of the costs by using $300,000 left over from a paid-out retirement fund and $300,000 a year for five years from its capital outlay fund.

State aid will cover approximately 26 percent of the bond costs. Both the city and the Recreation Commission are paying $50,000 each for five years. In return, each entity will be able to use the center for activities.

Private donors also made significant contributions that lowered the final cost to district taxpayers. An example of the contributions is a $50,000 pledge from the Booster Club for renovation work in the South Gymnasium.

In addition to Sunday’s open house, there will be a privately-funded VIP dinner for the USD 308 Board of Education, Hutchinson Recreation Commission, Hutchinson City Council and invited community leaders.

As with most construction projects, some minor detail work will not be completed when the first events are held in the Activities Center. Items including some signs, graphics and floor edge moldings will be completed over the next few weeks.