City park bleachers fill Otters StadiumPublished 11:21am Thursday, August 29, 2013
When fans show up for the first Fergus Falls varsity football game Friday night at Kennedy Secondary School’s Otters Stadium, they will find themselves with a different view of the game than in past years.
Due to the north bleachers being deemed structurally unsafe earlier this year, bleachers have been brought in from city parks and will be stationed on the track for fans to use. The south bleachers remain in place, but have traditionally been used by fans of visiting teams.
Fergus Falls Public Schools business manager Mark Masten said there has been a significant loss of seating for this season, but the new seating setup is necessary for the safety of the fans.
“We have prepared as much as we can at this stage of the game,” Masten said. “It’s the best we can do with what we have.”
Masten said arrangements are being made to accommodate media so that power cords will be able to be run to the new seating and final adjustments would be made Thursday.
City facility foreman Dave Umlauf said five smaller bleacher sets were moved from various city parks to the football field earlier this month. Three larger sets of bleachers were also taken out of city storage and set up at the field.
Parks and Recreation manager Steve Plaza said the parks should not be affected by the absence of bleachers.
“All of our organized ball practices and games are done, so they would just have been sitting there anyway,” Plaza said.
Masten said he has not heard from any concerned parents or fans about the smaller amount of available seats. But he also said he expected to hear from some people at the game Friday.
The bleacher problem was discovered earlier this year after the school district started the process of finding out potential costs of new bleachers. In the past year, there have been two votes brought to the city on whether or not to fund new facilities for the school. Both times district residents decided not to fund the projects.
However, Masten said the district would still like to add new bleachers.
“Our goal is to try and get some new ones because our facilities are in tough shape and they don’t meet handicap accessibility codes,” Masten said.
Replacing the bleachers entirely would cost anywhere from $750,000 to $1 million, Masten estimated. Refurbishing the bleachers could cost anywhere from $100,000 to $400,000.
While there is no hard timeline for any bleacher replacement or renovation, Masten said the School Board would likely decide its course of action in either October or November in hopes of beginning construction next spring. Such a plan could have new bleachers ready for the 2014 football season, but Masten also said the project could take longer if potential renovations become more complex.