There had been hope for a new basketball arena in Bryant for many years. So many people worked toward making it happen even when the efforts fell short in the past. But, at long last, the day came: Tuesday, January 7, 2020.
The Bryant School District unveiled the new Hornets Arena for the annual Saline County Shootout with the rival Benton Panthers before a near sellout crowd of around 2,000. Festivities were sponsors by “premium” Bryant Athletic sponsors Everett Automotive Group, Big Red Valero Stores, First Security Bank and Ortho Arkansas along with Gina’s Catering, Jamey South (State Farm Insurance) and Schrader Homes.
“I never knew if this day would come,” said an emotional Mike Abrahamson, head coach for the Bryant boys team. “And I just want to say thank you to the community for making it happen, for showing up tonight and I hope they keep showing up.
“It was a great night, great environment, great arena,” said Lady Hornets head coach Brad Matthews. “A lot of work went into this from a lot of people. I know (Superintendent) Dr. (Karen) Walters, (Athletic Director) Mike Lee, (Deputy Superintendent) Todd Sellers — those people went above and beyond to make this happen tonight. I know I appreciate it and I know our kids appreciate it.”
Added Abrahamson, “It’s been a mad scramble the last few days, probably the last few months. But the last few days have just been very hectic and literally every available body in this school district was in here the last two days, from the superintendent to everyone in the central office to seemingly every custodian and maintenance worker we had, along with Baldwin-Shell (Construction Company) workers. You’ve got to give Baldwin-Shell credit for pulling it off.
“But our superintendent — Dr. Walters was scrubbing baseboards earlier today. She was running to Lowe’s,” he mentioned. “She’s such a leader that will do things like that and it’s an incredible example. All of them were over here. It’s special to me to see everybody rallying together to try to make it work and I deeply, deeply appreciate it.”
“Great atmosphere,” said Matthews. “What an awesome new arena. I really appreciate our community, our administration for making all this come together. It’s been a long time coming but, man, it was awesome to get in it tonight. Just such great community support, administrative support — it was just a great night for high school basketball at Bryant.”