--Doug Stohlberg, HSO editor This week marks a historic date in the annals of Hudson High School basketball. It was on Feb. 21, 1975, that the Raider basketball team played its first game in the “new gym.” The “new gym” is, of course, the one used today at HHS. In doing some research, I discovered that the move to the new high school actually took place in February of 1975. The official move day was scheduled as Wednesday, Feb. 19. It must have happened quite quickly with the first basketball game already scheduled that Friday night. The 1974 school was later expanded to include the former junior high school. That section of the school sits on the west side of the campus and was built in 1963; the link connecting the two buildings was built in 1994. Just a note, the high school (east side of the campus) was built for $2.5 million in 1973-74. The original bond issue failed in December 1972; a few cuts were made (including a $30,000 brick exterior) and the referendum later passed. Back to the gym, Hudson was originally scheduled to play at River Falls that evening, but somewhere along the line the schedule was changed and the teams flipped the schedule so Hudson could have a home game on the new floor before the regular season ended. The Star-Observer, before the game, was full of praise for the new school and the new gym. The young local sports columnist, who – at the time - happened to be Doug Stohlberg (Straight From The Dougout), said: The most spectacular high school gym in this part of the state will be unveiled Friday night when Hudson hosts River Falls in an 8 p.m. basketball game in the new Hudson Senior High School (note the later start time in ’75). Then-Athletic Director James Luedtke said architects listed the seating capacity at about 1,950 or 1,975. He said, however, that 2,100 to 2,200 could easily fit into the facility. The columnist went on to say that “It is hard to describe the magnitude of the place because there is nothing around to compare it with. In fact, it is much nicer than many college gyms I’ve seen. But, seeing is believing, so don’t miss the opener against RF.” Luedtke also said the new gym put Hudson into contention for hosting regional and sectional playoffs games. Hudson has hosted a number of regional contests, but if the building hosted any sectionals it was in lower divisions. Hudson won the first game in the new gym, 69-53. The Star-Observer reported that “the game itself was almost overshadowed by the excitement and glamor of Hudson’s new gym.” Luedtke reported that 1,800 fans were in attendance. The paper reported that the crowd was the biggest ever to watch an indoor athletic event in Hudson, although I’m not sure that is true when looking at the history of the old boxing arena on First Street. River Falls was in the midst of a down year and didn’t bring too many fans to the game. Most of the crowd was from Hudson. The game was the regular season finale and Hudson finished with an 11-3 mark, good for second place in the old Middle Border Conference. New Richmond won the title with a 14-0 record. Leading scorer in the contest was Lon Gilbertson with 26 points. George Madson added 14 and Jerry Barr 10. The last game played in the old Oak Street gym was on Feb. 11, 1975, when Hudson defeated Ellsworth 62-49. That gym, of course, is now part of Willow River Elementary. The “new” Oak Street gym opened during the 1953-54 season. The gym was part of an expansion project – the original school was built in 1919. Ironically the first game in the Oak Street gym was also against River Falls. Hudson also won that game 52-37. The Raiders were coached by Carver Fouks. The first game in that gym was Dec. 11, 1953. According to the Star-Observer of Dec. 10, 1953, the seating capacity was listed as 1,400 – seems a bit high, but in those days they could probably squeeze in close to 1,000 – seating was also available on a stage on the north end of the gym. The next week’s paper said the crowd was estimated at 800. The Oak Street gym was very innovative for its day – it had a professional basketball length floor and was the envy of most schools which still used very small gyms with very limited seating. There were rumors that it was built big enough so that the Minneapolis Lakers (later LA Lakers) could host an exhibition game or two. I don’t believe that ever happened. At that time, the gym was also considered one of the best in the entire area. When I was growing up, the Oak Street gym was an exciting place in my life. We just lived a half a block from the school and I never missed a home basketball game. The gym was still a popular place during my high school days. Looking back, the Oak Street gym had a life of only about 20 years as a home for high school basketball – about half of the current gymnasium. Of course, the Oak Street gym is still being used as part of Willow River Elementary. And, actually it is still the home of the Hudson Raider high school gymnastics team.

--Doug Stohlberg, HSO editorThis week marks a historic date in the annals of Hudson High School basketball. It was on Feb. 21, 1975, that the Raider basketball team played its first game in the “new gym.”The “new gym” is, of course, the one used today at HHS. In doing some research, I discovered that the move to the new high school actually took place in February of 1975. The official move day was scheduled as Wednesday, Feb. 19. It must have happened quite quickly with the first basketball game already scheduled that Friday night.The 1974 school was later expanded to include the former junior high school. That section of the school sits on the west side of the campus and was built in 1963; the link connecting the two buildings was built in 1994. Just a note, the high school (east side of the campus) was built for $2.5 million in 1973-74. The original bond issue failed in December 1972; a few cuts were made (including a $30,000 brick exterior) and the referendum later passed.Back to the gym, Hudson was originally scheduled to play at River Falls that evening, but somewhere along the line the schedule was changed and the teams flipped the schedule so Hudson could have a home game on the new floor before the regular season ended.The Star-Observer, before the game, was full of praise for the new school and the new gym. The young local sports columnist, who – at the time - happened to be Doug Stohlberg (Straight From The Dougout), said: The most spectacular high school gym in this part of the state will be unveiled Friday night when Hudson hosts River Falls in an 8 p.m. basketball game in the new Hudson Senior High School (note the later start time in ’75).Then-Athletic Director James Luedtke said architects listed the seating capacity at about 1,950 or 1,975. He said, however, that 2,100 to 2,200 could easily fit into the facility. The columnist went on to say that “It is hard to describe the magnitude of the place because there is nothing around to compare it with. In fact, it is much nicer than many college gyms I’ve seen. But, seeing is believing, so don’t miss the opener against RF.”Luedtke also said the new gym put Hudson into contention for hosting regional and sectional playoffs games. Hudson has hosted a number of regional contests, but if the building hosted any sectionals it was in lower divisions.Hudson won the first game in the new gym, 69-53. The Star-Observer reported that “the game itself was almost overshadowed by the excitement and glamor of Hudson’s new gym.” Luedtke reported that 1,800 fans were in attendance. The paper reported that the crowd was the biggest ever to watch an indoor athletic event in Hudson, although I’m not sure that is true when looking at the history of the old boxing arena on First Street.River Falls was in the midst of a down year and didn’t bring too many fans to the game. Most of the crowd was from Hudson. The game was the regular season finale and Hudson finished with an 11-3 mark, good for second place in the old Middle Border Conference. New Richmond won the title with a 14-0 record.Leading scorer in the contest was Lon Gilbertson with 26 points. George Madson added 14 and Jerry Barr 10.The last game played in the old Oak Street gym was on Feb. 11, 1975, when Hudson defeated Ellsworth 62-49. That gym, of course, is now part of Willow River Elementary. The “new” Oak Street gym opened during the 1953-54 season. The gym was part of an expansion project – the original school was built in 1919. Ironically the first game in the Oak Street gym was also against River Falls.Hudson also won that game 52-37. The Raiders were coached by Carver Fouks. The first game in that gym was Dec. 11, 1953. According to the Star-Observer of Dec. 10, 1953, the seating capacity was listed as 1,400 – seems a bit high, but in those days they could probably squeeze in close to 1,000 – seating was also available on a stage on the north end of the gym. The next week’s paper said the crowd was estimated at 800.The Oak Street gym was very innovative for its day – it had a professional basketball length floor and was the envy of most schools which still used very small gyms with very limited seating. There were rumors that it was built big enough so that the Minneapolis Lakers (later LA Lakers) could host an exhibition game or two. I don’t believe that ever happened.At that time, the gym was also considered one of the best in the entire area. When I was growing up, the Oak Street gym was an exciting place in my life. We just lived a half a block from the school and I never missed a home basketball game. The gym was still a popular place during my high school days.Looking back, the Oak Street gym had a life of only about 20 years as a home for high school basketball – about half of the current gymnasium. Of course, the Oak Street gym is still being used as part of Willow River Elementary. And, actually it is still the home of the Hudson Raider high school gymnastics team.

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