‘The Dome’: Tiny Mountain View, Wyoming’s Cathedral To Basketball

Like a lot of Wyoming small towns, Mountain View lives and dies by its basketball team during the long, cold winters. The gym-dandy place they call “The Dome” is where the Buffalos roam, and it’s unlike any other arena in Wyoming.

Jake Nichols

March 16, 202411 min read

Mountain View High School's Dome, Home of the Buffalos.
Mountain View High School's Dome, Home of the Buffalos. (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

It’s hardly a secret when the Buffalos are playing a home basketball game.

The few streets in Mountain View are nearly empty. Businesses close early so employees can get to the game. Besides, it’s no use to stay open as everyone else is at the game, too.

And if it’s archrival Lyman in town, well, just take note of the wealth of glittery handmade “Beat those Eagles” signs at the Drive-In, the Subway and Pizza Hut.

Like a lot of Wyoming small towns, Mountain View lives and dies by its basketball team during the long, cold winters. It seems all 1,200 souls, or darn near close to it, shoehorn their way into the Mountain View field house, known affectionately as “The Dome,” for any given home game.

The annual Bridger Valley showdown between Mountain View and Lyman is a level-up experience. The two schools sit just 6 miles apart — a nine-minute drive depending on farm machinery traffic in Urie.

Mountain View Chief of Police Mark Erramouspe, who referees Buffalos games, requests to work the Eagles-Buffalos rivalry every year.

“I’ve probably been doing the Lyman-Mountain View games for at least 25 years. It’s my favorite game of the season. The competition is always stepped up,” Erramouspe said.

And his favorite place to referee a basketball game is The Dome, Mountain View High School’s famed gymnasium. He was humbled the first day he walked into the hallowed hall.

“The atmosphere of the gym itself is like no other. I still remember the first game I worked there 35 years ago. I was so intimidated by the space,” Erramouspe said. “It is different than any other gym in the state, and I’ve worked them all.

“I see people walk in there and see how small it is and how confined it is with the fans sitting right on top of you. They are always awestruck.”

Mountain View gym in 2021.
Mountain View gym in 2021. (David Settle, WyoPreps)

A Story Takes Shape

Full disclosure: The original idea for this story was inspired by Cowboy State Daily editors seeing a photo of the interior of Mountain View High School’s gymnasium. The domed roof and intricate woodwork are eye-catching.

“Is this not the coolest gym in Wyoming?” they pondered.

The photo they saw came from Jerrad Anderson’s X account. Anderson covers Riverton basketball for a living and likes to collect photos of cool arenas he’s been in.

“Nothing quite like Mountain View,” he wrote with a posted pic of the “Home of the Buffalos.”

So, it became a mission to find out more about this adorable little coliseum, this cathedral to basketball where an entire town worships.

Who built it? Why wood rafters when other materials would have likely been cheaper? And do the Buffalos have any special sense of playing basketball in this reverent, churchlike venue?

Ten phone calls in and it became clear this story was going to be anything but easy.

School officials could not recall who built the gym or when. They suggested talking to a long-serving school board member, Kim Charles, who recently retired. Charles said the gym was built before even his time on the board, but suggested an engineer who might have been involved in the electrical.

“Go Buffalos!” he said at the end of the phone call. Lyman and Mountain View were scheduled to play in two days (Feb. 22).

Deputy clerk for Mountain View, Mandy Fraughton, said to try the county about The Dome and who might have built it. She also agreed hers was a small town and pretty much everyone was going to be there for the Lyman game.

“It gets loud in there,” she assured.

The Uinta County Clerk’s office in Evanston had no records immediately at hand. They suggested a visit to the county court archives, but not before a woman there shared that she was originally from Mountain View and went to high school there.

“Go Buffs,” she said. “You know, we got Lyman this week.”

Then there was Cindy at BVEA Electric. She didn’t know much about the history of the gym either but did want it known she is from Lyman and would be rooting for the Eagles.

Someone mentioned Bob Stoddard might have been a subcontractor on the Mountain View dome construction. We caught up with him on a job in Utah.

“I can't help you on that one,” Stoddard said, then added, “I’m in Ogden right now. I'm kicking myself I won't make it back in time for the big game. That Covolo girl is something.”

He was talking about junior McKinlee Covolo, the Lady Buffalos’ 5-foot-11 star center. Everyone in Mountain View knows the team’s leading scorer. She’s as famous as a 17-year-old gets in the Bridger Valley.

The boys’ basketball team is in a bit of a rebuild year but the girls have been dominant.

Several phone calls later turned up Public Works Director Jake Porter.

“They took that Covolo girl off the low block. I don't know why they did that. We’ll get ’em tonight,” were the first words out of Porter’s mouth when contacted about who might have built The Dome.

Porter, a Mountain View High School alum, was still stinging from Lyman’s upset of the Buffalos back on Jan. 27. His daughter, Charlee, is a junior power forward on the team.

Porter did manage to relay some interesting intel about the gym that could not be verified.

“There were a bunch of these type of buildings around here for a while. The state hired a contractor to build them all, from what I heard. Lyman had one but tore theirs down,” he said. “There’s not many cooler gyms in the state, though, that’s for sure.”

OK, cool gym. Covolo is a rock star. But where did The Dome come from? It was looking like everyone in Mountain View just woke up one day and there it was, and everyone simply took it for granted that it was just always there.

Also, it was quickly becoming apparent that anyone planning to attend the Lyman-Mountain View game better get there early.

  • Left, lead page of the 1983 Mountain View High School yearbook, which mentions of the brand new school that opened Sept. 7, 1983. Right, cheerleaders do their thing in a brand new gym that would one day become know as The Dome.
    Left, lead page of the 1983 Mountain View High School yearbook, which mentions of the brand new school that opened Sept. 7, 1983. Right, cheerleaders do their thing in a brand new gym that would one day become know as The Dome. (Cowboy State Daily Staff)
  • Lyman Enterprise chronicles one of the earliest games between the now-fierce rivals Lyman and Mountain View in 1922.
    Lyman Enterprise chronicles one of the earliest games between the now-fierce rivals Lyman and Mountain View in 1922. (Lyman Enterprise)
  • The Dome of Doom in Mountain View Wyoming.
    The Dome of Doom in Mountain View Wyoming. (Courtesy Anthony Colasuono)
  • Outside the famed Dome in Mountain View.
    Outside the famed Dome in Mountain View. (Courtesy Anthony Colasuono)
  • The Dome as seen from outside.
    The Dome as seen from outside. (Uinta County School District)
  • Exterior of The Dome.
    Exterior of The Dome. (Uinta County School District)

Build It And They Will Come

Finally, a breakthrough.

It came from Mountain View athletics director and Buffalos boys coach Dustin Rees. He provided a name of the architect and builder, adding that the high school and gym were finished and opened for the 1983-84 school year.

On Rees’ tip, the builder was finally tracked down in Oregon. Western Wood Structures (WWS) out of Tualatin. With an engineering division known as Varax Engineering that held a patent for the unique wood-based structures, WWS also built the Tacoma Dome (the largest of its kind in the world when it opened in 1984), the Bijie Dome in China, and the Chiles Center Dome at University of Portland.

“Mountain View, Wyoming, you say? Early 1980s?” repeated Jamie Agidius at WWS. “That goes back a ways.”

Agidius tickled away at his keyboard until he pulled up an ancient archived blueprint and draft sketches of the gym.

“Huh, here it is,” he said. “That was one of our first jobs, actually. You say it is still there?”

Once assured that Mountain View’s revered Dome was indeed still in existence and hosting regular basketball and volleyball events, Agidius grew reflective.

“You know, I grew up in a sleepy little town like that in Washington,” he said. “Our gym was sunken and small. It felt like you were enclosed in a pit, and boy it was loud. We loved it, but opposing teams hated coming there.”

Agidius said the reasons for the wooden dome ceiling are aesthetic beauty, of course, and the fact that wood will actually absorb a lot of sound better than most other materials.

Don’t tell that to Lyman Activities Director Jason Hansen. Mountain View’s dome is a place many opposing teams don't relish playing in strictly for the noise factor.

“It’s a very tough place to play. You can't hear someone standing right next to you in that place, especially during a Lyman-Mountain View game,” he said. “It feels like your entire hometown and their entire hometown is right there on top of you looking down.

“And it’s very much a momentum gym. When we played them this year, I think Covolo had 16 or 17 points in the third quarter alone. The more she scored, the louder it got.”

By the way, that game was tied 23-23 at the half until Covolo did, indeed, put on her cape. She went off, finishing the game with 24 total points in the 65-33 Mountain View win. The Buffs boys also won that night, 52-36 over the Eagles.

“That said, it’s really a very cool place to play, that Dome. They have an advantage because they’re used to it. But it’s a great environment for high school basketball,” Hansen added.

Lyman boys head coach Barry Hill agreed.

“It’s a fun atmosphere. The crowd is always crazy and there’s a lot of pressure,” he said.

Anderson, whose photo launched this story, has been in The Dome only once.

“It really is unlike any other gym in the state — this mini-arena auditorium. I’ve never seen another gym like that,” Anderson said. “And it is definitely loud because the sound is so condensed. That roof is right on top of you.”

Current “Voice of Bridger Valley” Anthony Colasuono covers Mountain View and Lyman sports for MyLocalRadio. There are times he’s not sure his play-by-play is coming through the radio above the crowd noise.

“I compare it to The Pit in New Mexico. The crowd is right on top of you the way the place is set up,” Colasuono said. “And The Dome traps all the noise. There is no place for it to go. It’s a very cool and special arena.”

Despite being a quirky old gym, The Dome has hosted a pair of 3A West Regional basketball tournaments as well as two 3A West Regional volleyball tournaments.

Rees grew up playing for the Mountain View Buffalos. He’s been coaching the boys team for 23 years now. The rivalry between the teams, which dates back to at least 1922, might exist more in the minds of parents and old timers than it does for students today, he admits.

But the power of place is real and Rees, for one, can't help getting emotional when it comes to his team, his gym, his school.

“The Dome is known by many coaches, players, fans and officials as one of the best, if not the best, high school basketball atmosphere in Wyoming,” Rees said. “The close proximity of the fans, along with the natural acoustics, make the gym very loud. When the place is packed, like it always is against Lyman, the atmosphere is unmatched. It is an amazing place to coach and play.”

Home In The Dome

The original story idea was to explore a unique structure, to backstory an intriguing high school gymnasium that stands out from its sterile cookie-cutter counterparts for its exceptional architecture.

But, like its subject, the story took on a life of its own. It’s not the building that defines its community; rather, it’s the other way around.

“It’s kind of dark in there, in an old-school Boston Celtics way. It’s one of the most intimate and insane places to play with the crowd right on top of you,” said longtime broadcaster Elan Olliff, who has covered Buffalos games. “But it’s more than a sports venue to the people of Mountain View. Everybody shows up for games there. It is quite literally a community gathering spot.”

The Dome radiates with the countless contests played by shiny-faced high school teenagers so full of hope and promise. And then their children. And their children’s children. Buffalo alum all. Pride of Bridger Valley (unless you’re an Eagle).

Jake Nichols can be reached at: Jake@CowboyStateDaily.com

  • The Lyman Eagles play the Mountain View Buffalos in The Dome in 2021.
    The Lyman Eagles play the Mountain View Buffalos in The Dome in 2021. (Courtesy David Settle, WyoPreps)
  • The Lyman-Mountain View rivalry game about to start on Feb. 22 2024.
    The Lyman-Mountain View rivalry game about to start on Feb. 22 2024. (Courtesy Anthony Colasuono)

Jake Nichols can be reached at jake@cowboystatedaily.com.

Share this article



Jake Nichols

Features Reporter