Published May 11, 2021
“It provides an excellent example of how a quality building can boost not just a sports program, but the entire school”
With its 2012 opening, the Edison Preparatory Athletic Center gave Tulsa’s Thomas Edison Preparatory Middle and High School a state-of-the-art arena with resources for 10 different sports.
“It provides an excellent example of how a quality building can boost not just a sports program, but the entire school,” said Derrick Schmidt, principal of Edison from 2011-16. “It was a great addition to our campus.”
“The EPAC’s really been top-notch,” said Edison Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Tony Daniels, now in his fifth year at the school. “Other athletic organizations that come here always talk about how nice it is.”
The Edison Preparatory Athletic Center, or EPAC
As designed by Reed Architecture and Interiors, the EPAC benefits started with its 1,200-seat arena, home to the boys and girls basketball and volleyball teams for the middle and high school. Compared to the old gym, Schmidt said that arena boasts improved seating, lighting, sound, lockers, concessions, pedestrian flow, security, and most everything else. “This gave us a tremendous benefit not just for actual competition play, but for year-round court space for basketball and volleyball,” he said.
A hidden gem
Some first-time visitors to the EPAC find it sad that this beautiful building sits at the back of the high school. “Unfortunately we can’t see the facility from the street,” said David Reed, principal of Reed Architecture, “but the site dictated that it needed to sit there, which is the best spot to serve each of the sports along with a strong connection to the school itself. It still remains one of my favorite and most striking buildings, with a nod to the International Style design.”
The 57,000-square-foot EPAC also provided new locker rooms for several different teams and officials, a team film room, a sports medicine training room serving all student-athletes, a strength and conditioning room, indoor practice and batting areas, and program offices. Amenities include a hospitality suite overlooking the arena and an atrium gallery showcasing the school’s rich heritage.
“It gave us a much better presentation for the kids, the staff, and the community,” said Schmidt. “It was just a great upgrade.”
The school’s football, baseball, track, and other sports programs have made good use of these amenities, while non-athletic programs benefitted by absorbing campus spaces vacated by these programs. The EPAC’s debut also gave Edison a beautiful facility for showing off its many talents.
“We were a magnet school, so we would use it for showcase nights where our teachers set up displays for parents to read through as part of our recruiting efforts,” said Schmidt. “It became a great showcase for what we did.”
Outsiders soon benefitted from this. Over the last eight years, Edison and the EPAC played host to several revenue-generating basketball and wrestling tournaments. Tulsa Public Schools also raised capital by renting the facility to sports organizations.
“Our facility is still top-notch!” said Daniels. “And it’s held up well. One thing we’re trying to do is add a bit more detail here – trophy cases, banners, that kind of stuff. Every year since I’ve been here, we’ve added some new things to add to the look of it.”