NEENAH, Wis. (NBC 26) — One of Wisconsin's most iconic high school basketball venues will soon close its doors.
Neenah's Ron Einerson Fieldhouse will host its final varsity game Saturday night as the Rockets host Appleton West in a WIAA regional final.
Neenah is opening a new high school next academic year; the fieldhouse will then serve as the middle school facility.
"(I have) a lot of memories as a fan, growing up and just seeing a full house," Jon Joch, the Chief Financial Officer of the Neenah School District, said. "I always thought that this was the best facility in the state when you get 3,000 people in here for a big game."
Joch said he has been attending games as a Neenah fan since he was six-years-old. He later went on to play basketball for the gym's namesake, legendary coach Ron Einerson, in the 1990s.
Jim Strick, the district's communications director and primary public address announcer during games, played against Neenah when he was in high school at Kimberly.
"This was always my favorite place to play," he said. "I don't say that just because I'm in Neenah now.
"Even as a high school kid 30 years ago, it was just a totally different atmosphere than anywhere else you play," Strick said.
The fieldhouse seats 3,600 fans, making it the second-largest high school gym in the state. Joch said the new gym will be smaller, but more "intimate."
Many thought Friday's regional semifinal against Stevens Point would be the final game at the gym, but a surprise upset ensured it will live to see another day.
No. 14 seed Appleton West shocked No. 3 seed Oshkosh North, 78-64, meaning Neenah will host the Terrors Saturday night, rather than go on the road to Oshkosh North. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.