Ralph Tasker Arena is in the midst of a facelift as the high school basketball season tips off.
A coat of “Tasker Gold” paint here, a video message board there and a good cleaning of the 17 boys and one girls state championship trophies that reside in the trophy cases at the front of the arena are just some of the changes and improvements taking place to the cathedral of New Mexico high school basketball.
“We just wanted everything to look crisp and fresh,” said Hobbs High Athletic Director Brenda Wilson, who is making some subtle changes to the interior color of the arena. “We’ve painted a thicker black base (on the walls) and made gold stripe a little larger, just to give it a little bit of a different look. It’s still has the mystic of Tasker Arena, but we’ve added a little bit of change to it. All of the golds throughout the arena will match now. From the walls to the signs to the floor. Before there were several different colors of gold, but we have re-done all of the signs that were in the arena and everything will have the same colors.”
One of the major changes is the installation of two new scoreboards and the addition of two new digital message boards. The new scoreboards and message boards will feature advertisements from four local businesses Undergrounds, Lasco, Lea Regional Medical Center and Watson Truck and Supply. Hobbs Municipal Schools Director of Operations Gene Strickland said they were purchased with almost $100,000 in mil-levy money.
The message boards will offer additional advertisements for local businesses as well as cheers to incite crowd participation.
“The money we generate from sponsorships will go toward purchasing other scoreboards for the softball and baseball fields and middle schools,” Strickland said.
But the message boards offer an opportunity for learning as HHS technology students will create the advertisements and cheers as part of their curriculum.
“That’s what’s great about this project is that the students get the opportunity to be a part of this,” Wilson said. “Video, digital, photography, it all ties together. I just think what a great learning process for our students to be able to build the ads and cheers that will run throughout the game.”
When Eagles head basketball coach Mike Smith played for Hobbs in the early 1980s, the scoreboards featured name boards that listed each player and their fouls. Those boards were replaced in the late 1990s, but the original name boards remained. Now those name boards are gone in order to make room for the message boards.
“It’s 2017, so it’s time for a change,” Smith said. “I think its great. It’s up-to-date. This is the type of upgrade this gym needed.”
Lady Eagles head coach Joey Carpenter believes the new scoreboards will give Tasker Arena “a little flair.”
“It’s outstanding,” Carpenter said, “We all have to embrace change and modernize the gym. It’s not 1970 anymore and I’m happy that we are making the move to look more modern.”
Wilson said the message boards and its advertising potential will also be available to the wrestling and volleyball teams.
Going with a “less is more” look Wilson said basketball state championship banners will be repositioned for a better organized look while the banners from the other sports were removed. Future plans include the addition of one banner listing all of the high school’s state championships.
“It’s amazing how many state championship teams this school has seen over the years,” Wilson said, “but we had to remove some banners just to have enough wall space for the new scoreboards and message boards.
For now, the 18 banners that have been in Tasker Arena for so many years will continue to stay on the arena’s north and south walls. Wilson said those banners were also cleaned with the older banners receiving some repairs.
“We couldn’t even get them drycleaned,” she said. So we have to carefully clean them as best as we could. They should be back up before the Lady Eagles home opener.”
Wilson said there is talk of finding smaller basketball state championship banners and present those on the rafters above the court
“We need smaller banners so everyone can see the court,” Smith said. “With such a low ceiling in the arena the banners block some areas of the court for people sitting in the higher seats. Getting smaller banners will allow us to keep that intimidating look for opposing teams, while also allowing everyone who attends game to be able to see them.”
Wilson said the plan of getting the banners to the middle rafters will take some time as it progresses through the pricing and budgeting phases.
“We want this place to be intimidating to teams coming here,” Wilson said. “It’s important to keep that home-court advantage that those banners bring.”