PARKERSBURG - Wood County Schools has shut down Parkersburg High School's Stadium Field grandstands following an engineering report that said the bleachers were not safe to use.
The report, received by the school system Thursday, was based on an Oct. 25 visual inspection of the stadium, which found numerous areas of "spauling" where concrete was cracking and pulling away from the structure, said Sue Woodward, assistant superintendent of school services. The report concentrated on all of the areas where seating was bolted to concrete.
"Due to the amount of cracking and spauling, and what they called oxidized reinforcement (rust), the grandstands 'should not be used for any assembly-type occupation,' " Woodward said Friday quoting the report. "That shuts down all permanent seating for the stadium."
Photo by Michael Erb
Wood County Schools officials have shut down all permanent seating at Parkersburg High School’s Stadium Field following an engineering site report saying the concrete structures may be unsafe.
The grandstands were constructed in 1924 and a steel frame was added in the early 1990s to "rehabilitate the structure," Woodward said. However, that concrete, which has been patched and repaired numerous times over the years, is simply falling apart.
The report also urges the district to do further inspection of the girders and columns of the structure.
Officials estimate the cost to bring the stadium back up to occupancy would be "$1 million or more," Woodward said, but added the estimate was based solely on the visual inspection and past projects.
Shutting down the bleachers could also affect the press boxes and facilities underneath the grandstands, but officials do not yet know whether those structures are damaged or would need to be closed. Woodward said as of now the facilities beneath the bleachers are still open and being used.
Officials will spend Thanksgiving week soliciting bids from architectural engineering firms to do full inspections, including core drillings, of the stadium. Parkersburg High School officials were met Friday with stadium committee members, and Superintendent Pat Law called Wood County Board of Education members to inform them of the report, Woodward said.
The move will potentially disrupt all middle and high school sports at the stadium, including some private school events. Woodward said it also could affect PHS graduation in the spring.
"No one can yet answer the question 'will it be ready for football season?'" she said. "We just don't know."
Woodward said the visual inspection came about because Wood County Schools was cited earlier this year by the state Board of Risk Management, which insures the district's facilities. Woodward said the school system was cited because it had not had such an inspection done on Stadium Field in recent years.