Fans like Jim Norick Arena because there is plenty of parking, and they find it easy to get in and out. But tradition is the biggest draw.
“We have all been bred to believe that is where we want to be in March,” said Cherie Myers, who coached the Okarche girls to their second consecutive state championship on Saturday and her fifth overall.
Okarche played their first-round state tournament game last week at Southern Nazarene University, and Myers said it felt like a “play-in game” because the Warriors were not playing in the State Fair Park arena.
“That is not the state tournament to me or our kids,” she said. “You are playing to get into the state tournament in our minds.”
Even if they moved the small school state tournaments to a newer arena, there is no guarantee it wouldn’t have problems, Johnson said. Last weekend in Skiatook, a Class 3A area tournament had to be moved to Collinsville at the last minute because of a power outage.
“People understand things are going to happen,” Myers said. “We didn’t like the lights going out but 20 minutes later, we are back playing again and here we go.”
During Saturday’s championship game, the kids were unfazed by the drip coming from the roof, she said.
“We had a coach watching it and they had people watching it, and it never became a factor,” she said.
Munz said State Fair Park already had planned to resurface the arena’s roof before Saturday’s leak.
“It’s a very old building and the roof has been patched numerous times,” he said.
The Oklahoma City Council in January approved a $55,500 contract with its architectural firm for design work on a project to strip the old roofing material off the building and install a new roof.
Johnson, who served on the OSSAA’s basketball board for 15 years, said coaches would like better dressing rooms at the arena, but few schools are interested in playing elsewhere.
“Playing in Chesapeake Arena would mean nothing to me and my kids,” he said. “The only time we were unhappy is when we weren’t playing in State Fair Arena on the first day (of the state tournament).
“I promise you, most of our schools, that’s where we want to go. That’s where we want to play.”
Staff Writer William Crum