Editor's Note: In all seriousness, TCU Athletics and the Fort Worth Independent School District deserve high praise for making the best of a difficult situation this year. The Wilk was a great temporary home for TCU Basketball.
Late last Saturday night, the TCU Horned Frogs left the locker room at the Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center for the final time. The chairs were folded up and put into storage, anxiously awaiting their return to action for the next Texas High School Playoff game. The floor was swept, the lights were turned off, and the concession stands were closed. The TCU era at Wilkerson-Greines was officially over.
Nestled between Tarrant County Community College, the Fort Worth Federal Correctional Institution, and Taco Casa, the Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center welcomed the Frogs into its friendly confines with open arms. "The Wilk," as it was affectionately called, was a cozy, 4,750-seat facility owned and operated by the Fort Worth Independent School District. Volunteers staffed the four concession stands, strategically located at each corner of the facility. Who could forget the friendly faces from O. D. Wyatt High School serving up delicious hot dogs, nachos, and funnel cake?
As if the delicious selection of cuisine flowing from these concession stands wasn't enough to get you excited, how about those innovative neon "OPEN" signs located in the corners of the arena designed to alert patrons to which concession stands were actually open and ready to serve said hot dogs, nachos, and funnel cakes? Good luck knowing which concession stands are open at Cameron Indoor Stadium, Rupp Arena, or Allen Fieldhouse.
The open signs weren't the only amenity that the Wilk had to offer. Think of all the times you have been at a basketball game and the pencil that you're using to take studious notes becomes dull or breaks? Not a problem at the Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center. Conveniently located behind the scorer's table was a pencil sharpener, open to use for media and fans alike. (Just be sure you pick up your pencil shavings.)
And who could forget those locker rooms? More than 300 square feet of space welcomed teams during pregame, halftime, and postgame. Complete with wooden benches, lockers, a white board, and a water fountain, the locker rooms at the Wilk provided both TCU and their visitors all the amenities needed to win basketball games. Just imagine Bill Self, Bob Huggins, and Trent Johnson - all legends of the game - barking instructions at their players deep within the confines of the Wilk.
Adding to the atmosphere of the Wilk was the court design. The beautifully hand-painted basketball at mid-court really set the mood from the very beginning. The attention to detail and artistry involved was enough to overwhelm any visitor to the WGAC. The court itself is named for Robert Hughes, the former Dunbar High School head coach who is the winningest all-time coach in high school basketball with 1,333 career victories. Take that, Krzyzewski.
Although the seats evoked memories of Gallagher-Iba Arena or the Frank Erwin Center due to their bright orange color, they were always welcoming. Where else could one get an entire section to themselves to enjoy Big 12 Basketball?
There really wasn't a bad seat in the house.
The Wilk hosted several dignitaries, so to speak, this season. TCU alums Lee Nailon, Kurt Thomas, Adrick McKinney, Brandon Finnegan, and J.J. Henry all graced the Wilk with their presence. The TCU football team was honored for their Peach Bowl Championship at halftime of the game against Texas. Not to mention all of the incredible Big 12 talent that made its way through Fort Worth this season. Basketball fans were treated to a really special event on November 26 when the Radford Highlanders came to town. Veteran Big 12 referee John Higgins put on a show for the home fans, calling two flagrant fouls, two technical fouls, and initiating three video monitor reviews. The event marked the first time that the Wilk experienced a referee hat trick.
The TCU Horned Frogs played 18 games at the Wilk this season, posting a 12-6 record. History was made inside these friendly confines. The Frogs broke the school record for best start in program history with a 68-50 home win over the McNeese State Cowboys. Trent Johnson picked up his 250th career victory with a 106-53 victory over Mississippi Valley State.
The Wilk saw the first top 25 ranking for TCU in nearly 16 seasons. The program's first ever Big 12 winning streak came at the Wilk, after TCU upset #21 Oklahoma State before knocking off Kansas State. Not long after that, the Frogs had a three game home winning streak under their belt by knocking off Texas Tech.
When the Frogs eventually become a force in the Big 12, we will remember the days spent inside Wilkerson-Greines. The smiling faces of the volunteers. The deep-fried deliciousness of the funnel cakes. The endless available parking. The fear of not knowing whether or not a prison break would disrupt the game. (Shout-out to the excellent staff at the United States Bureau of Prisons, by the way.) But more than anything, we will remember the atmosphere and the fun times had within the walls of the Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center.
The new Daniel-Meyer Coliseum is set to open sometime this fall after nearly $60 million in renovations. The facility will be one of the very best in the Big 12, with added floor seating, wider concourses, a food court, and a highly anticipated TCU Athletics Hall of Honor. As time goes on, wins and losses will fade, but the memories of the Wilk will remain. TCU fans who experienced it will never truly be able to escape the omnipresent force of the Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center.
Now that's Wilkerson-Greatness.