Brownwood already knows what a first-class football stadium can do for tourism, for statewide visibility and for the local programs that use it. Consider the number of teams who line up for playoff games at Gordon Wood Stadium since it underwent major renovations a few years ago. The Gordon Wood Classic held near the start of the high school football season probably would not have enjoyed the success it has without the excellent facility provided to host it.
Last winter, as the Howard Payne University Lady Jackets advanced deep into the NCAA Division III playoffs, the importance of this community having a similar venue for basketball became apparent.
Even though the Brownwood Coliseum is inching closer to the half-century mark in service to this area, it remains a prime location for basketball games, as well as other community functions where a large audience can be expected. The City of Brownwood facility has through the years improved the seats, added parking and made other improvements.
Throughout its decades of service, however, basketball teams have been playing on the same floor. Itís a removable floor, as most fans know, so it can be lifted and stored when basketball season ends.
While local high school teams will play there occasionally, the coliseum is home court for the HPU Yellow Jackets and Lady Jackets. Howard Payne has strong basketball tradition, dating back to the years before the coliseum was opened. But the 53-year-old floor became the object of some discussion as the Lady Jackets advanced to the national tournament earlier this year, hosting the American Southwest Conference tournament and an NCAA tournament game. In process, the facility set a record for holding the largest crowds ever to see a Division III womenís basketball game.
The Brownwood City Councilís decision last week to declare the old floor surplus and allow the university to use it as a trade-in on a new one was an easy call to make. If the new floor is half as good as the old one, basketball stars who havenít been born yet will showcase their talents on it.
But donít count on the new floor lasting some four decades. Local basketball fans are expecting it will get a lot more use in additional playoff games in the future