If the warped floor inside B. Frank Brown Gym could talk, it could tell some amazing stories about the basketball games that thrilled Gulfport fans for almost five decades. "It will be missed, no doubt about it," said the current Gulfport High School basketball coach Bryan Caldwell.
Caldwell was a player when B. Frank Brown was the place to watch a basketball game. And he patrolled the sidelines the last time Gulfport High hosted a game there. "It's just a special place," he said. "I don't think you can ever replicate the aura of that gym."
Soon a wrecking ball will slam into B. Frank Brown Gym and the Gulfport school administration building with the same sort of force as a Chris Jackson slam dunk. The court legendary coach Bert Jenkins turned into a basketball mecca is about to become a centerpiece for Coast Transit Authority buses, and federal courthouse visitors.
"It has served its purpose in the day," said Gulfport councilman Jimmie Jenkins. "Now is the time to do what is best for the city of Gulfport, which we need a parking garage."
Since the garage will be directly across the street from the new courthouse site, courthouse visitors will use some of the public parking spaces. Downtown Gulfport merchants, and people who use CTA transportation will fill up the remaining spaces. "This facility will help provide parking and transportation for the economic development community in downtown Gulfport," said CTA director Reid Hopper. "And the catalyst of course is the new federal courthouse."
As for the old gym, councilman Jenkins has come up with an idea to save part of the court where his four sons won championships. "What I would like to see is we get a campaign going to sell part of that floor to the fans," Jenkins said. "And you take that and give it to the basketball team."
CTA will pay almost two million dollars to buy the court where Gulfport basketball legends won championships.
CTA is building a similar parking garage on Washington Loop in downtown Biloxi. That deal will actually close later this week. But Biloxi construction will be put on hold until CTA can build the Gulfport garage.