The new bleachers installed in the high school gymnasium last week replace the former, which was installed in the 1950s, and can accommodate about 588 people.
Star Eagle Photo: Deb Bently
In just four days of work, the wooden bleachers in the 1950s-built Gymnasium No. 2 were removed and new bleachers were installed on November 3.
According to NRHEG Athletic Director Dan Stork, the new bleachers can accommodate 588 people, including seven spots for those who can’t climb stairs. Having two fewer rows of seats than the old one creates both a drawback and an advantage. “Compared to the wooden bleachers, he probably lost more than 100 seats,” he says Stork.
Stork refers to past incidents where referees have collided with spectators, and also points out that people entering and exiting the seats would block the line of sight of coaches and team members who were trying to watch the game.
Stork believes that greater spacing between the front row and the playing floor will make everyone safer. There is also chair space in front of the bleachers where team members and coaches can sit. Audiences have space to walk behind them to and from their seats. “We had to make decisions based on our priorities,” he explains Stork. “And everyone’s safety is our number one priority.”
The original wooden bleachers have been in poor working order for many years. Estimates from various companies indicate that replacing the necessary wheels and other parts will cost more than half what it would cost to install an all-new bleachers at around $83,000. Stork says the decision to acquire the new seats was made last spring. Since then, planning and preparatory work has been underway.
Hands-on work began on Friday morning, October 29th. Students and other volunteers spent him a day disassembling the wooden bleachers and the metal framework that supports them. A total of 30 to 45 of her students helped throughout the day. Despite the hard work and large number of workers, no one was injured.
Vintage 1″ x 10″ pine boards (some are 20 feet long) were given to the school lumber mill for use in future projects. Many of the metal pieces were set aside for use in welding projects at the metal shop. Otherwise, the unusable metal was sold for scrap, bringing about $770 in costs.
Volunteers enjoyed pizza and drinks provided by school staff. As one worker said, “It was fun to turn on the music and get the job done!” Stork said it had all been dismantled and removed by 3:30 p.m. Friday, completing the work earlier than expected.
Workers from Excelsior’s Seating and Athletic Facilities Equipment (SAAFE) began preparations immediately on the morning of November 1, delivering supplies and equipment. Three workers spent his three days sorting out and assembling all the wood and metal parts. The new bleachers were first unveiled during his concert with his band marching on Nov. 22 and will be used frequently during his basketball season, which begins Dec. 7, Stork said.