Throwback: Breckon Sports Center at Park University’s underground school

Nighttime at Breckon Sports Center.

Lights shine on the twin domes of the Breckon Sports Center at Park University.

David Collins

Library in the underground campus.

The library in Park University’s underground campus built in a limestone mine owned and operated by the school.

David Collins

Today’s throwback is the story of an innovative school with an equally innovative campus — the largest underground educational campus in the world. When the school needed a new gymnasium they sought a solution as innovative as building underground — the Monolithic Dome.

Founded in 1875, Park College in Parksville, Missouri, was a higher-education school placed on a hill overlooking the Missouri River. In the 1980s, the school needed to expand, but that required money and land the school didn’t have. To find what they needed the school administration started digging — literally.

They started a limestone mining operation underneath the school’s land. Limestone was sold which funded the school and the empty limestone mine became the space for additionl classrooms, offices, library, bookstore, and more.

It had the added benefit of incredible energy efficiency.

In 1999, while the world worried about Y2K, the school worried about building a new gymnasium. There wasn’t enough room underground for a sports facility. The school was used to low energy bills and standard construction just didn’t fit the innovative nature of the campus.

Then they found the Monolithic Dome. Back then there were not many Monolithic Dome gymnasiums, but not ones to shrink from something new, the school pursued building two Monolithic Dome gyms. Each is 130-feet in diameter with one performance gym and another practice gym plus locker rooms, restrooms, administration offices, and more.

Completed in 2001, the new facilities have served the school — now Park University — for twenty years. Read more about this amazing place in our throwback stories, below, from 1999 and 2001.

The performance gym.

The performance gymnasium seats 1,000 at sporting events.

David Collins