Stefan Hard / Staff Photo
A Montpelier Parks and Recreation crew culls bleacher seats for reuseable lumber Monday after a Vermont Department of Corrections crew disassembled the bleachers that overlook the football, soccer, and lacross fields. From left are parks and recreation workers Rob Morrissette, Carl Nunn, and Rich Lachapelle.
New Montpelier High School Athletic Director Matthew Link was dealt an interesting card on his first day on the job: a serious seating problem.
By Link’s Aug. 10 start date, Montpelier High School had already determined that the aging bleacher structure that provided seating for roughly 650 spectators would not last another school year.
On Monday, a Vermont Department of Corrections work crew disassembled the bleachers, which spanned 96 feet and contained 14 rows of seating.
“It’s a great project for them to do, and it’s a great benefit for us because it cost us very little to take it down,” said Thom Wood, director of facilities for the Montpelier school district.
Members of the Montpelier Recreation Department combed the remnants of the structure, which once included a press box and housed the electronic scoreboard and sound system, for salvageable boards.
“They’re actually being taken down as we speak,” Link said early Monday afternoon. “We’re going to have some replacement bleachers on the track right in front of where our bleachers were. We should be able to accommodate about (350) people.”
To make up the difference, Wood encouraged spectators to make use of the standing room available on the track around the field.
“There’s plenty of room to stand around the perimeter and bring your own chair,” he said.
The field the bleachers serve is the home of the Solons football, soccer and lacrosse programs. The temporary bleachers will be in place for at least the rest of 2012.
“I think they’re looking to get a bond out to get money for new bleachers,” Link said. “Hopefully we’ll have something for next year, at least next fall. It would be optimistic to think about having bleachers for lacrosse (in the spring of 2013).”
The school is formalizing the items on the bond to be voted on by Capital City residents in November.
The school roped off a section of bleachers this spring and pulled the trigger on the rest of the structure late this summer. Wood, along with Superintendent Brian Ricca, decided the structure was unsafe. Graduation is typically held on those bleachers but was moved to the adjacent field this spring.
The press box, where radio broadcasts and webcasts originated, was also in disrepair, with a ragged tarp for a rear wall for several seasons. The building next to the bleachers that housed the concession stand was unaffected.
“No one said why,” Link said of what ultimately caused the structure to be torn down. “There was a lot of room between the seat and the foot area. Hopefully in the long run everything works out for us and looks fantastic.”
Aside from the obvious seating issue, the absence of the elevated press box will cause area radio and Internet webcast crews to seek alternative arrangements to cover football, soccer and lacrosse.
“Because we have the two weeks to play with, our game plan isn’t set yet,” WSNO’s Jim Severance said. WSNO’s broadcast team of Carl Parton and Joe Salerno isn’t set to call a football game at Montpelier until Sept. 14 when the Solons host Poultney.
“We’re planning on doing the games at MHS, and we’re looking into getting a platform or something,” Severance said. “For Joe and Carl to be able to see (the field), they have to be elevated a little bit.”
There is no record of when the bleachers were installed, according to Montpelier High School Principal Adam Bunting. He did say the structure was at least 30 years old.
U-32 also had some repair work done to its press box at its main athletic field, due to adjustments made by frost heaves.
“We had to wait for them to go down and we’re bracing it so it doesn’t happen again,” U-32 Athletic Director Amy Molina said. “It’s settling down, and it’s nothing on the scale of what’s going on at Montpelier.”
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