Hinsdale Central Gym – Hinsdale Central Red Devils
Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57
Hinsdale Central Gym 5500 S Grant St. Hinsdale, IL 60521
Year Opened: 1952
Red Ribbons and Plenty of Banners
They have been playing basketball at Hinsdale Central High School since 1901 and when the Illinois High School Association created a basketball tournament to crown a state champion in 1908, the high school was one of 13 schools invited. The Red Devils would finish 4th that season but the following year captured the state championship with an 18-13 victory over Washington after sporting a 22-3 regular-season record. This was also the first season when the tournament was opened to all schools in the state.
The 1909 game was the school’s lone championship in boy’s basketball but the Devils have produced 19 West Suburban Conference championships, three Elite Eight appearances in the state tournament, and two regional championships. The club also produced an impressive 27 consecutive home victories between 1996 and 1997 when the team sported an overall record of 55-7.
Since 1952 the basketball games have been held at the Hinsdale Central Gym–the “Central” was added when Hinsdale South High School opened in 1965. The capacity was once listed as 4,200 but has been trimmed down to around 3,500 these days. The gym features a classic look from its exterior main entrance and is more impressive once you walk through its doors.
The gym is also home to the annual Hinsdale Central Holiday Classic that features 16 teams from the area competing over 4 days of 32 high school hoops taking place on the iconic court. The tournament began in 2015 and is one of ten that takes place in the state around the holidays.
Food & Beverage 3
There is one concession stand at the corner of the gym on the lower level that is quite large for a high school venue. The options are similar to other gyms and include hot dogs, nachos, pizza slices, candy, and chips. However, fans can opt for a brat while watching a basketball game. The prices are reasonable and range between $1 to $4 and include the school’s official water that is made specifically for the high school.
The first thing you will most likely notice is the multiple banners hanging from the ceiling’s perimeter honoring the multiple school championship teams dating from 1909. There are 112 banners from the school’s various programs that include traditional powerhouses in tennis and swimming. There is also a banner from the 2014-2015 season when a record 8 different boys and girls teams won their respective championships.
The second noticeable feature of girls is the looping red ribbons that hang from the ceiling that give the place much of its charm and character. The decor adds to the plethora of red that is featured in and around the gymnasium. The gym itself has a box-shaped design with an outer concourse with staircases at each corner.\
There is an upper balcony that wraps around the majority of the arena and features permanent thick brown bleacher seats behind each basket. The balcony seats behind the baskets almost hover over the action taking place down below.
The box-shaped lower-level bleachers are more modern and can be pulled in and out depending on the event taking place in the gym. A wrap-around outer concourse houses multiple accolades and trophy cases along with a couple of small ticket windows.
The atmosphere is quite different between a home Red Devils game in comparison to a holiday tournament. There is no band, student section, dance squad, or cheer team to be found during the games. However, the design of the venue and its charm provides its atmosphere during the winter break of basketball games.
Hinsdale is located 17 miles west of Chicago and features a population of 17,000 plus. There are a few places to grab a bite to eat before the game including classic Chicago foods at Chishack and Falco’s Pizzeria. Chishack is known for Italian beef, hot dogs sausages, and burgers. Falco’s serves regular, ultra-thin, or double-dough crust pizza along with sandwiches, pasta, and dinners. Pints of beer are $2 on Tuesday and Thursday.
There are a few craft breweries within a couple of miles from the high school and including Scallywag Brewing and Black Horizon Brewing Company. Another great choice of beer is Fuller House, an American tavern offering wood-fired pizza.
The Graue Mill is a water-powered grist mill that was originally erected in 1852. Now a museum, it is one of two operating water-powered grist mills in Illinois. The Hinsdale History Museum bridges the past, present, and future by engaging the community with its history and architecture. The Western Springs Water Tower is a museum and former water tower in nearby Western Springs.
The Devils have some great fans and during the tournament came in droves to support their team on Boxing Day. It is probably a little different during a regular season home game where the student section comes alive and the band adds the musical soundtrack to the proceedings.
The gym is located within a few miles of I-294 and its design makes moving around the building quite effective. The contests are not heavily attended and fans will be able to move around to enjoy games without trampling over students and fans. Bathrooms are located on the outer concourse of the gym.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets to games are $8 per day and that allows access to all four games. The concession prices are reasonable and parking is free in the large lot outside the gym. The games are competitive and many go down to the last second allowing for enjoyable experiences from the stands.
The gym receives three points for its 112 banners that decorate the rafters, the red ribbons that hang from its ceilings, and it's balcony seating that hovers above the main court. The gym earns a final point for its Red Devil Fuel, basically bottled water, but a nice touch when visiting the concession stand during the game.