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‘It feels like a brand-new gym’

DHS renovates gym with new bleachers, floor, paint and banners
The Durango High School volleyball team plays Grand Junction High School Friday night on a new gym floor. New bleachers were installed on one side of the gym, and will be installed on the other side next week. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Durango High School athletes will get to compete in a gym that will be like new this year.

The gym’s renovation, which is nearing completion, features new bleachers, a new gym floor, new white paint, new championship banners and, hopefully soon, a new digital scoreboard.

“I think we’re just catching up to where a lot of gyms across the nation are,” said district athletic director Ryan Knorr. “After we put the final touches on it, I think it will be pretty amazing.”

For Friday night’s volleyball game against Grand Junction, only the bleachers on the east side were open. After the team’s game Saturday, the bleachers on the west side of the gym will be completed.

“It’s beautiful,” said DHS head volleyball coach Kelley Rifilato. “It no longer looks like a cave in here. It’s bright and airy, and the kids are so excited to play in here.”

The new bleachers are red, white and black and have patterns designed into them. One side has mountains and the other says “DHS.”

Capacity will be slightly smaller than before to make the bleachers comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Knorr said the height of the steps changed, and the walkways will have new handrails.

“They’re more family friendly,” Knorr said about the new plastic bleachers.

The gym floor had to be replaced because of years of sanding and refinishing.

Durango School District 9-R Facilities Manager Mike Cavender said the floor couldn't be finished again.

The new floor and bleachers cost about $520,000, Cavender said. The project funding came from the district’s capital budget, which is separate from the 4A bond.

“The safety of our students is our primary concern, and the appropriate surface for games and practices is something that will support our athletics and school events for many years to come,” he said. “The new floor is beautiful and is a source of school and community pride.”

The floor has a very similar design to last year’s, but Knorr said he tweaked a couple things to make it look a little cleaner.

New banners pay tribute to the school’s state champions and runners-up and to league and regional champs.

The school is raising funds for a new digital video scoreboard. Knorr said they’re waiting for the final electrical estimates for wiring, but he estimated the new scoreboard would cost about $85,000. The plan is for students to run the board and learn the technical side of its operation. People interested in donating funds for the scoreboard may contact Knorr at rknorr@durangoschools.org or visit renovatethegym.com.

Knorr thanked a lot of people for helping with the renovation, including Tim Fitzpatrick for organizing much of the data for the banners, Creative Color Solutions for “an amazing job” painting the gym, district facilities for its “instrumental” work putting the project together, the finance department for supporting the project and appreciating the need and the superintendent and board of education for contributing their support.

“It was a long time coming,” Knorr said. “It feels like a brand-new gym.”