Covering bleacher pushes cost

February 03, 2002 11:00 pm

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

The price of putting a roof over the bleacher seats is going through the roof.

La Grande school officials and soccer fans have discovered that problem this winter while trying to determine the best way to replace the middle schools 300-seat wooden soccer bleachers.

Putting in metal bleachers with the same capacity would cost about $30,000. Installing a roof would cost another $81,000, said Gary Howland, director of plant operations for the La Grande School District.

The prices are based on estimates provided by Northwest Recreation, a company in Tualatin that installs bleachers.

The price is prohibitive because the La Grande School Districts insurance will pay only $30,000 for the bleacher work the cost of repairing the existing bleachers or replacing them.

Howland recently met with about six members of the La Grande High School Soccer Booster Club to discuss what they would like to have done. The booster club members have an interest in the bleachers because LHS soccer teams play at the middle school field.

The booster club members indicated that they would like the new bleachers to have a roof. Many games are played in inclement weather, said Scott Nebeker, a member of the club.

He said boosters would be willing to give up seating capacity if it would make a roof affordable. He noted that seating could be reduced since the stands are rarely filled to capacity for games.

The booster club might be willing to raise money to assist the La Grande School District with its bleacher replacement work, Nebeker said. Club members are looking into their options.

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This is very preliminary, Nebeker said.

He stressed that he is not speaking for all the soccer boosters since he has not talked with them.

The existing wooden bleachers were seriously damaged during a windstorm on Nov. 28. The covered bleachers are not usable because they have many broken boards and exposed nails. The school district has decided to replace the bleachers because new ones would cost less to maintain and would provide the fans a better view of games.

Howland wants to keep bleachers at the soccer field because La Grandes soccer facility is a source of pride in the community.

At many other high school soccer fields fans watch games from lawn chairs, Howland said.

We have a good facility which is a real selling point for our soccer program. I want to keep it, Howland said.