When the Frankfort High School girls and boys basketball teams take to the court this season they will do so in a newly renovated state-of-the-art venue.

The F.D. Wilkinson Gymnasium recently received a $5 million facelift that included replacing the windows, lighting and signage. Water bottle filling stations were added and renovations took place in the locker room, restrooms and classrooms.

Gone is the uneven hardwood floor that humped near midcourt and sloped a few inches toward the stage and had to be picked up piece by piece to avoid rising flood water that would have destroyed the floor in 1989. It was replaced with a college basketball floor with the hope that the school will be able to attract and host smaller college hoops tournaments, according to FHS Principal Tyler Reed.

On Friday and Saturday, students, families, staff, stakeholders and the public got a sneak peek of the remodeled gymnasium. Among the improvements are a four-sided scoreboard suspended from the ceiling at midcourt and two large video screens at both ends of the gym, which Frankfort Independent Schools Board of Education Chair Jina Greathouse said brings the gym to a higher level.

“I love the look on peoples’ faces when they see it and remember what it looked like,” said FIS Chief Operating Officer Bobby Driskell. “We have the best gym in Central Kentucky. We’d love to have KSU (Kentucky State University) down here to play some games, and even Coach Cal. The invitation is out there.”

Despite all the new renovations, the legacy of the building was preserved. The stands have not been updated and neither has the stage floor, which was transformed into a space for alumni and special guests to sit during events and games.

It’s not easy to update facilities while maintaining the integrity of a building, but FIS knocked it out of the park with the renovations to the F.D. Wilkinson Gym.

We commend the FIS Board of Education for giving its students the best while preserving tradition and can’t wait to see the Panthers in action on their new court.

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