Stadium Field fix could be costly

PARKERSBURG -Short-term solutions to fixing the bleachers at Stadium Field could prove costly.

Mike Hayden, member of the Parkersburg High Stadium Committee, said officials were presented short-term solutions that may cost close to a million dollars.

The Stadium Committee – with the permission of the Wood County Board of Education – has been working with Pickering Associates to review the bleachers at Stadium Field after they were closed late last year. The committee was interested in a short-term solution to allow the facility to be used for upcoming spring events.

Hayden said two plans were suggested. One idea would cost $900,000. A second plan would cost $2.5 million. Hayden didn’t say what those plans involved, only to say they were short-term solutions.

A third idea was also presented, which Hayden said would be cheaper and provide a longer-term fix.

Officials are slated to meet with the Wood County Board of Education next week to discuss the report and consider options. Hayden said the problem with the proposals is finances.

“We just don’t have the money right now,” he said. “That’s the big thing: Where is the money coming from?”

Sue Woodward, assistant superintendent of Wood County Schools, said there is no money in this year’s school system budget.

“We’ll have to wait and see what the committee presents and what the board wants to do,” she said.

Connie Roberts, finance director for Wood County Schools, said the system has $2.8 million in its contingency fund. Roberts said the state recommends 3 percent of the annual budget be set aside to cover emergencies.

“We should hold $3.4 million,” she said.

The stadium was shut down in November following an engineering report that stated the bleachers were unsafe. The report was based on a visual inspection of the stadium, which found numerous areas where concrete was cracking and pulling away from the structure.

Nine firms submitted an expression of interest in the schools’ projects. Tuesday, Woodward told the board officials selected a recommended partnership between ZMM and Pickering Associates to handle the work from the 10-year, countywide facilities plan.

Several board members had questions about Stadium Field. Board president Tim Yeater at least twice had to redirect questions away from the Stadium Field and back to the 10-year facilities plan. Woodward said the 10-year facilities plan agreement does not address the issues at Stadium Field.

“We haven’t tied those two pieces together,” she said.

Hayden said committee members have had no concrete discussions with regard to a plan of action. He recommended contacting Parkersburg High Athletics Director Lori Lowers. Messages left for Lowers were not returned.

The stadium was built in 1923 by the incorporated Stadium Committee on land owned by the school board. According to the history of Stadium Field, from the Big Reds Factbook, the board turned over the land to the committee on a 99-year lease.

The grandstands were constructed in 1924 and a steel frame was added in the early 1990s. The concrete has been patched and repaired numerous times over the years.