Gardens sculpture donated to Xavier

Cincinnati Gardens arena basketball art piece finds new home on campus

Photo courtesy of WVXU | Cincinnati Gardens donated one of its sculptures of a basketball player (above) to Xavier after the basketball team played 17 seasons at the arena.

A taste of Cincinnati’s rich sports history has come to Xavier’s campus with the donation of a Cincinnati Gardens basketball sculpture from John Peckskamp.

The Cincinnati Gardens arena is being demolished, so Peckskamp is handling the future of the sculptures to ensure that they have a permanent place to stay.

Peckskamp is the grandson of Henry Mott, the original designer of the sculptures, which had been a part of the Gardens since its opening in 1949.

The Xavier basketball team played a total of 17 seasons at the Cincinnati Gardens arena from 1983 to 2000 prior to the completion of Cintas Center.

At the arena, Xavier basketball had a total of 236 wins and 74 losses. Brian Hicks, the associate athletic director for external relations, said the connections to the arena show why it is important for Xavier to house the sculpture.

Of the six sculptures outside the Gardens (two each of a hockey player, basketball player and boxer), one of the basketball sculptures will be displayed on Xavier’s campus. The sculpture is already in Xavier’s possession at the Physical Plant building.

It is currently undecided which location is the most appropriate for the sculpture. According to Hicks, the university plans to “finish the current basketball season” before discussing where the sculpture should be incorporated into the university.

Plans could take one to five years since there is no set timeline for what to do with the sculpture. “More discussion is required” in order to come to the best decision possible for everyone, Hicks said. The sculpture will continue to be stored in the Physical Plant building until those decisions are made, which was facilitated in part by Vice President for Facilities Robert Sheeran.

A number of people have been involved in the logistics of receiving and storing the sculpture, including Hicks, Sheeran and Athletic Director Greg Christopher. Peckskamp was responsible for the donation after reaching out to Xavier several months ago so that the university would provide a permanent place for the sculpture to be displayed and enjoyed by fans.

The sculptures serve as a legacy of his grandfather’s work and he believes that entrusting one to Xavier would prevent its demolition along with the arena.

“The sculpture is an important part of the city’s rich sports history as well as Xavier basketball history, so we are thrilled that John (Peckskamp) reached out to us several months ago in preparation of the demolition of the building,” Hicks said. To him, exhibiting this basketball sculpture will help “tell the story about that particular era of Xavier basketball.”

By: Alex Ackerman ~Staff Writer~