Sage Ridge School Formally Announces The Naming Of The Ernest J. Primm Gymnasium

  • Athletics
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Jess Thibault

Sage Ridge School announced today that it is naming its new 13,000-square-foot gymnasium after Northern Nevada gaming legend Ernest J. Primm, known by most people as Ernie. This gymnasium will be housed within Sage Ridge’s recently announced 24,004-square-foot Student Activity Center. Members of Primm’s family spanning multiple generations and close friends have raised and pledged collectively over $2 million toward the funding of the $7 million Student Activity Center. The gymnasium, court, and Northeast Corner Lounge will be named in Primm’s honor. The Primm gift also includes additional naming rights to be released at a later date.

“We are thrilled and honored that our future home court and gymnasium will be known as the Ernest J. Primm Gymnasium,” said Sallie Armstrong, the Chair of Sage Ridge School’s Board of Trustees. “Ernie Primm was a Nevada gaming legend and pioneer whose contributions to both the Reno business and gaming community and to Northern Nevada are immeasurable.”

Ernest J Primm

At one time, Primm owned the largest contiguous block of real estate in downtown Reno. Primm is credited for pioneering the start of Reno’s gaming industry in the 1950s and 1960s, beginning with a casino known as The Primadonna Club, which he opened in 1955. The Primadonna Club was the first major casino allowed to cross what was then called the “red line” and operate on the west side of Virginia Street. Primm is also credited with changing the face of the tourist industry in Reno.

Armstrong continued, “Ernie’s impact on Reno makes this gift meaningful in many ways — it ties Reno’s past to Sage Ridge’s present and future and in a way that reminds our students and community to honor and recognize those who paved the way. Ernie was a community leader and one of Reno’s early entrepreneurs who worked hard to achieve and accomplish all he did. Sage Ridge, each and every day, teaches our students to be leaders and provides them a path to achieve, innovate, and inspire others.”

The 13,000-square-foot gymnasium will feature a top-tier maple hardwood floor and bleacher seating for 756. This premier gymnasium will allow Sage Ridge to host home games and events its students, faculty, and school community can experience together with school pride. It will also serve as a quality venue for the community — for youth sports tournaments, academic competitions, and special events. The adjacent Northeast Corner Lounge, with magnificent views of downtown Reno, will serve as an academic and social meeting space during the day and a community/sporting event space at night and on weekends.

Ernie Primm’s son, Northern Nevada businessman and philanthropist Roger Primm, said, “We are so appreciative to Sage Ridge for honoring my father like this. He would be very proud to have his name affiliated with such an outstanding school. Sage Ridge is focused on excellence, and my father always instilled in his children a respect for excellence. I have grown up here and lived in this wonderful community nearly my entire life, and I have always felt my father and other gaming pioneers and business leaders have not been given the true recognition they deserve for taking a risk years ago and for paving the way for so many others. I am deeply grateful we are able to recognize my father in this meaningful way.”

The influence of the Primm family on this entire facility is not just limited to a financial contribution. The actual building and development of the Student Activity Center itself is being led by current Sage Ridge School Board Trustee, Cory Clemetson, who is the grandson of Ernie Primm.

“This facility, once completed, is going to be incredible not only for Sage Ridge but for the entire Northern Nevada community,” Clemetson said. “Many of my relatives have shared stories over the years with my brother, Chad, and me of our grandfather’s generosity and how he always gave back to communities in which he did business — especially when the charity supported youth sports.”

Clemetson added, “Having my grandfather’s name associated with such a first-class facility that ultimately will positively impact so many young people’s lives is truly rewarding.”

Groundbreaking on the Student Activity Center is anticipated in May 2021, and the facility is slated for completion this coming winter. Visit www.sageridge.org/AIM for more information.

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