In the community, Schools

Viking football fans will be able to view gridiron action from new bleachers this fall

VALE – The demolition work is finished but installation of new bleachers at the Frank Hawley Field and at the Vale High School baseball diamond will most likely not occur until September.
The Vale School District entered an $800,000 contract with a Washington state company – All Play Systems – last spring to replace the obsolete, wooden bleachers at the two prep sports venues.
“This project has been on our list of priorities for a number of years due to the deteriorating state of the current bleachers. We wanted to improve safety for our community and our schools,” said Alisha McBride, Vale School District superintendent.
The cost to demolish and install new aluminum bleachers at the field was $692,003 and $140,374 for the baseball field. Demolition began in June.
Both sets of bleachers were originally scheduled to be complete in July, said McBride.
“We received notification from the vendor that due to the shortage of materials and the impact of the market we have a new estimated date of mid to late September,” said McBride.
The district used American Rescue Plan funds to pay for the bleachers, said McBride.
Funds from the Covid relief act can be used for upgrades to school facilities – such as bleachers – if those improvements meet specific criteria.
According to the school district’s application to the state, the new bleachers will enable “for more physical distancing during outdoor events which will reduce the risk of virus transmission.”
According to the application, the “current outdoor seating is made of wood and cannot be disinfected.
The upgraded seating will be made of aluminum, which can be disinfected between use to decrease transmission of the virus.”
The football bleachers will seat 875 people and include a five-room press box.
The visitor bleachers will consist of 303 seats. The new baseball bleachers will hold 194.
Neither set of bleachers will be covered.
The demolished baseball diamond bleachers were installed in the mid-1990s, said McBride.
The football field bleachers originally served as seating at the rodeo grounds and were moved to the high school in the mid-1990s, said McBride.
“It is very exciting. It is a project that has been needed to be addressed for a number of years,” said McBride.
McBride said the Vale School Board decided last spring to replace the bleachers.
McBride said with the original installation scheduled pushed back, there is the possibility the fans will have to stand or sit on the track, grass or on the concrete pads where the former bleachers once stood to watch the first few homes games of the Viking grid squad.
The first home game is scheduled Sept. 1 against Parma at 7 p.m.
McBride said the district is looking at “some different options” to furnish seating for Viking fans meantime.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected].

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