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New gym will seat 2,161 & feature glass wall
A rendering of the glass wall separating the lobby and the actual gym for the new gym complex expected to break ground next fall at Manteca High.

Manteca High’s new gym will definitely not be your great-grandfather’s gym.

The Buffalo’s first gym completed in 1922 was the proverbial cat’s meow at the time. The “gym” was on top of the stage in the new auditorium that could seat 550 people “in handsome comfortable opera chairs”. The stage — 76 feet in length — included a net to avoid basketballs from flying into the seats and prevent “human beings falling into the orchestra pit.” Despite the net, people did end up falling into the orchestra pit prompting it to be removed.

The new gym — expected to break ground at the start of Manteca’s centennial year next fall — will seat four times as many people as that first gym. 

The gym being built where the swimming pool was removed this past summer will seat 2,161 people — almost triple the 700 that the Winter Gym can now accommodate. It will allow Manteca High to hold the entire ultimate student body enrollment of the campus that is being modernized to accommodate. Currently Manteca High has to have a “wave” of three assemblies instead of one for school-wide assemblies for its 1,600 students.

The new gym will consist of concrete masonry block construction similar to the Measure G school bond project that placed a multipurpose building at nearby Lincoln School.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of the new gym is the open feel created by a glass wall between the lobby and the gym. This will not only allow for more natural light but it will significantly increase security and safety as on duty administrators during events will be able to see more areas.

That design feature was one of many incorporated into the Manteca High redesign that were gleaned from numerous meetings with faculty, the community, and students.

At the same time fans lingering in the lobby will be able to watch games while they are either in line at the snack bar or simply milling in the lobby.

The lobby area will also have a ticket booth, snack bar and restrooms. The gym will include restrooms as well.

The gym will have the latest LED lighting and will at least be wired — if not having actual solar power panels in place — when the gym is built.

“It is part of our overall effort to be cost efficient,” Superintendent Clark Burke said of facility designs aimed at reducing operational costs and future maintenance expenses.

The front entrance will face to the east where Garfield Avenue now runs. The southern part of Garfield Avenue will eventually lead into a roundabout to serve as a drop-off point. The entrance to the new swimming pool will be adjacent to the new gym.

One of the existing locker rooms at the Winter Gym will be updated. The other locker room will be converted to an aerobics room. The current woodshop will be remodeled into a weight room.

The existing small gym will not be demolished until the new gym is completed.

If the state Department of Architecture is able to process the plans in five to six months after the school district submits them and groundbreaking starts by the fall of 2020, there will then be a 12 to 14 month construction period. That means today’s freshmen class could be able to use the new gym their junior year.

Once the current small gym is eliminated work will start on the new swimming pool that will have 30 meters for competitive swimming as well as an area for students to learn to swim.

Work on the initial phase — the creation of the first part of a “pedestrian promenade” from the football stadium to where the new gym is being built — will be completed later this month. The project also involves the relocation of the softball field next to the football stadium adjacent to the baseball fields with the outfields almost touching each other.

The $42 million project includes bond funds for modernization and safety upgrades as well as development fees and residual redevelopment agency money for improvements needed to accommodate growth.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email