TOWNSEND -- It is no secret that the Bartlett gymnasium inside of North Middlesex Regional High School has seen better days. That is why there are plans on the books to ditch the old, historic hardwood for a newer, more modern look.

"The existing high school would be demolished and a new high school will be built," building chairman Rob Templeton said. "That new high school includes a new two-station gymnasium in line with the MSBA statutes."

The Massachusetts School Building Authority, or MSBA, is the governing body that oversees all school building projects. North Middlesex originally had thought about renovating the existing structure, but decided that building a new gym would be more cost-effective in the grand scheme of things.

"We have been working for the past year-and-a-half to get to the point where we are at," he said. "It will be a new high school with a new gymnasium. ...You will have two basketball courts running side-by-side with an overlay of a full-sized court running length-wise."

Inside the current North Middlesex gym, the fans are right on top of the players when they are inbounding the ball. While that creates a unique home-court advantage, safety can be at risk. The distance from the playing floor to the bleachers is roughly two feet, which does not provide athletes with full momentum and the ability to safely pursue loose balls.

Now, with more distance between the bleachers and the court, it will give both spectators and players a more safe and pleasant game experience.

"The stands will be on either side of the floor," he said. "There will be enough room for a real basketball game and those types of things. Right now, the current high school has two gymnasiums. We are down-sizing from two gymnasiums to just one."

The entire high school is being shrunken down from the current size of 200,000 square feet it is now, to around 180,000 square feet. North Middlesex's new gymnasium will include both boys' and girls' locker rooms, in addition to a weight room.

"The building itself is 50 years old, and it has reached the end of its useful life," Templeton said of the high school. "We have been looking at (the gym) in a stand-alone standpoint, but if I had to guess, the cost would be around $3 million for the project."

"Our reimbursement rate will be around 60 percent, but that is only on reimbursable costs," he said. "You have to do different activities on the building. Some of it's reimbursable, some of it is not. When it is all said and done, it will be roughly an $86 million dollar project (for the entire school). We won't know the exact numbers until the middle of January."

Come spring 2017, students at North Middlesex will likely have a brand new school to call their own. Construction, hinging on approval, is slated to begin in the spring of 2014.

"It ends up being a more modern and proud facility," Templeton said. "The lighting and all the little things that go into the gym are going to be much brighter, and it is going to be more in line with what a new facility would look like today. "It will meet the educational needs of the students," he said. "We are looking at a 50-year buildling. The renovation would have been a 20 to 30-year building."