The Asylum is back, and this time the famous nickname is written on the court for all to see.
Miami Highs boys basketball team, which played all road games last season while its gym was being refurbished, returned to its court for a game for the first time since the 2010-2011 season.
The Stingarees (3-0) defeated Goleman 55-30 on Thursday night, but the game was secondary to where it was played.
Miami High, the citys oldest high school with a tradition that dates to 1903, is undergoing a $49 million renovation that is set to be completed by November of 2013. The schools historic gym is only part of the new construction.
Were glad to be back home for the first time in a year and a half, said Stings senior point guard Alan Baez. It was weird last year going on the road every time, even for practice, but it made us closer as a team.
The Stings practiced last season at Miami Lakes Tech, a half-hour away. They played their home games a similar distance away at Miami Beach High.
Even with those obstacles, the Stings made it to the Class 8A regional semifinals, where they lost to eventual state champion Hialeah Gardens 66-59.
While that was happening, workers completed the renovation of the gym. Except for the walls, everything else was brought in new.
The most controversial new feature would seem like a basic necessity at most gyms but an oddity here air conditioning.
Marcus Carreno, who played for Miami High and coached the team to its most recent state title in 2005, worries that his current club will lose a competitive advantage in the new gym.
The heat we had in our gym in the old days was part of our advantage, said Carreno, who unsuccessfully lobbied to have no air conditioning in the new gym. The atmosphere was crazy, and the fans made the gym feel even hotter. It wore teams down.
Carreno said the air conditioning in the new place was working too well the past month, resulting in a frigid gym. Players were practicing in warm-up gear.
Another change in the new gym is the navy-blue paint on the north and south sides of the court that reads: Stingarees and The Asylum.
The latter has long been the unofficial name of the gym, given because of the zany nature of the teams fans. Many of them witnessed a Florida-record 18 state titles or 19 if you count the one that was won on the court but taken away due to what the FHSAA deemed as rules violations in 1998.
Regardless, The Asylum has always been a tough place for opponents to play. Not only did you have to beat the often-talented Stings, you also had to deal with the gym itself, including dead spots on the old wooden floors.
There were spots where you step and sink, and you couldnt jump as high, Baez said. And the roof would leak. If it was raining the night before, you would notice as soon as you walked into the gym.
Among the other changes:
• The west end zone seats have been removed.
• The new capacity is 1,135 plus 150 or so in the balcony.
• The new scoreboard is smaller and less obtrusive.
• The old wooden bleachers have been replaced by plastic ones.
• The famed arched windows have been raised. Carreno said neighborhood kids used to climb up the windows and sneak into the gym at night. That wont happen now, the coach said.