Archived Story

City park bleachers fill Otters Stadium

Published 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.

  • P. Carlson

    Schools we and our children attended never had any bleachers at the football fields. Met handicapped codes as they ( and I am one of them ), could access every place anyone else did, and nobody ever fell getting injured. Standing is also cheap. Spending a million dollars is unacceptable. Those who do not want to stand can bring a lawn chair. What did we ever do in the dark ages before people decided 6 million here, 12 million there, another million or more somewhere else, on and on and on was ok as long as taxpayers could not stop the spending?

  • jdartin

    Schools we and our children attended never had any bleachers at the football fields. Met handicapped codes as they ( and I am one of them ), could access every place anyone else did, and nobody ever fell getting injured. Standing is also cheap. Spending a million dollars is unacceptable. Those who do not want to stand can bring a lawn chair. What did we ever do in the dark ages before people decided 6 million here, 12 million there, another million or more somewhere else, on and on and on was ok as long as taxpayers could not stop the spending?
    I wanted to re-type it to see if it sounded as stupid a second time around.

    • firedome60

      Now it sounds TWICE as stupid!

  • Richard Olson

    I’ll tell you what sounds stupid…..spending millions of dollars because you’re to lazy to stand up for an hour or bring your light weight aluminum lawn chair. Some of you people need to get over yourself. The world doesn’t owe you a comfy place to park your butt.

  • lodgepole

    … No, what they will do is let the current bleachers rot to the point of no repair and stand around blaming us Citizens for not passing their Bloated Bill! The City has proven over and over again they can’t manage money or successfully co-ordinate projects. Here’s a good one… Fix the darn bleachers that are already there!

    • krank

      I can’t believe what I am reading…Honestly…Stand around and Im sure the parents of the visiting school who comes here will bring their lawn chair also…Thats the way of this city…Run everything down and don’t pay for anything….Let’s just try this out hey…..take away the temporary bleachers and everyone line up their lawn chairs and do that for visiting team also…What you will get is no more visiting teams…..so why cut the grass and have a football field in the first place…Instead we could use that space for another OLD FOLKS HOME….How pathetic…Whatever happened to having some pride in your city….Oh wait that was great when your kids were on THE FOOTBALL TEAM….but now…….tightwads….Honestly…and don’t come back with my kid didn’t play football….. because they use the place for track and field meets and for basic Phy Ed. So your brat used the place also….As for waiting for the bleachers to fall apart….Well that train has left the station….It’s here and now….How stupid….put all that money into a new facility and have everyone bring their own lawn chairs to the football game…Well how about we just shut off the water because I think everyone can dig their own well in the back yard…Why do we spend all this money on new sewer and water when could dig and well and crap in the back yard….Honestly…..some people…..

  • Richard Olson

    Off the deep end once more! “Ow ow, let’s kick Fergus out of the conference, they have lawn chairs”!



    Krank, you remind me of the guy who hangs out in the high school parking lot showing off his car, five years after he graduated. It’s a game! Get over it and yourself.

    • krank

      If you would have actually read my post I was talking about the Visiting team having a Tail Gate Party here not us…Wow….honestly Olson its time to agree to disagree….You just don’t get it do you…This is another tradition that you really don’t give a rats rear end about so don’t want to pay your fair share….Really patriotic…If you don’t like this town and the way they run things maybe its time for you to leave…I’m sure there are many people that would stand in line and even bring out their lawn chairs and sit at the edge of town to watch you leave…..Football, the stadium and community is what its all about….and maybe just maybe our team wins and we have a great time celebrating on a Friday night….Whats it cost you…..A dime a week…for a few years….especially when you got to take advantage of the same venue for many years without paying your fair dime…Now its time for a renovation that is way over due…and whiner Olson doesn’t want to participate….I think you were the one being teased during gym class because you couldn’t catch a lousy ball…Whatever it is….Honestly Olson…its just a game and a stadium that puts a smile on a kids face on a friday night….It is sure better than having those same kids running the streets looking for your house to vandalize…As for me…you don’t know me…you have no clue….and this is about creating a venue so our next generation of kids can spend a friday autumn night watching a nationwide tradition….Football was here before me….and it will be here after…The question is will it be in Fergus Falls for the next generation….I say YES…..with a newly refurbished stadium that will hold larger crowds and even the Handicapped….Because the days of the ME ME generation whiners are past….Its time to look forward not back….

  • Walt Henry

    There was a time when businesses in Fergus Falls used the school’s reputation, opportunities for children, cultural activities (Center for the Arts) as recruiting tools to help attract quality professionals (doctors, lawyers, accountants, engineers etc.)to their businesses. Heck, Fergus Falls even used to brag about the number of churches and the canopy of the trees that lined its streets.
    What saddens me, and this is true of most communities, is the lack of understanding of how important extracurricular activities are to some students and how these are sometimes the only “hooks” teachers/parents can find to keep a student engaged in learning. Oh, I know there are statistics that show a student who participates in after school “stuff” is a better student but we rarely talk about that. Those who understand this really should do a better job of communicating it.

    • Richard Olson

      Larry, I don’t disagree with what you’ve written. My disagreement is with those who have to have the very best of everything in order to play a game.

      The ice palace is an excellent example. Fergus Falls had an ice arena. It just wasn’t good enough for some, so the taxpayers of this community instead of being asked to repair and maintain the then extant arena were coerced into a multi-million dollar ice palace. Which came at the expense of decent streets and other needed infrastructure.

      That mentality, that says we need not care for and/or maintain because we can always go to the citizens for more money to build new is what bothers me and thousands of others in this town.
      That mentality is evident in the ranting of people like Krank who have to have the very best, as long as someone else is footing the bill. A logical partial solution like bringing your own lawn chair is met with derision and huffing and puffing as if such a suggestion were a personal insult to his high station.

      Bleachers do not equal an ice palace, but the same mentality is the seed from which privilege and sanctimonious arrogance grow, eventually to display itself in indulgence and entitlement. Witness, Krank.

      • Walt Henry

        No community can afford everything. Every community can afford something. In the days when Fergus Falls High
        School was still playing Wheaton in football, they couldn’t afford a nice new cement stadium like Fergus had, (the one that now seems to need replacing) but the parent’s booster club served GREAT Sloppy Joes to the visiting team afterwards. I remember the first indoor ice in Fergus. The hockey team and boosters fiberglassed some sheets of plywood, bolted them together on the concrete floor of a the main fair building, opened the building doors and flooded the floor. Indoor ice! Sheltered from the wind if it wasn’t blowing west to east. The team may have even won a few games that year after going 0 for a half a decade.
        Part of every conversation about community spending must be a list of benefits. Some of those benefits are not so easy to see but they ARE real. There are those who see only the cost and if it costs something the answer is always no. People shouldn’t really pay too much attention to the naysayers until they are willing to say, “These are the benefits but…” And that is true no mater what community we now call home. (We even have naysayers in the best school district in Minnesota–puffed out chest :)

        • krank

          I totally agree Larry…theres always someone standing in way when you want to get something done…I truly believe it is self centered and down right selfishness on their part especially when it comes to FIXING a public hazard where our kids play and are around during the day…Some people just drive by it and think, well theres no one there now…not knowing in 10 minutes another Phy ed class is heading out there to use the track and the field and sit in the bleachers..during their break between events.It’s not something that just sits there without any use and it is very old…I sure would like to know what year it was built because I’m sure Olson would know…Hey Olson what year was that stadium built anyway..I bet they hadn’t even invented the lawn chair yet…

  • kamso21

    Maybe this generation has never been told “no” I think that they are entitled to it for the fact that my parents generation is spending all of our money. I don’t even get to see my social security when I am old and retired, because your generation spent it all. Do I think we need new seats? No. Could they be fixed? Sure. But before you sit and say that a generation has never been told no, or is spoiled… check to see what your generation has done first. Every generation has their flaws. Our generation is stuck fixing what your generation screwed up, just like the next generation will have to fix what our generation screwed up. It’s just how it goes.

  • cyberdog

    This is proof that we didn’t need to spend $6M for a new football field and some other unnecessary outdoor facilities in that referendum vote last year which failed miserably.

    We Already have the facilities and equipment we need in order to do it. All we needed was a little bit of creative thinking and common sense.

    The School District should never have asked for $6M in the first place. It was voted down and they made fools of themselves.

  • Grayson

    Wow, where do I start!!! I’ve just been sitting back and reading all these posts. So if the roads need work and the water pressure is bad and the concrete bleachers have been declared unsafe, then what does that say about the up keep of this fair town? The lists goes on and on. It tells me that citizens want stuff fixed but don’t ever want to help pay for it and that my friend is why NOTHING ever gets fixed. Blame it on whoever you want but in the end, we should change the mascot from an Otter to a crummy looking band aid. That’s the approach the citizens take towards any up dates in this town does not matter what it is. Fergus islike an old heart that has been on life support for many years. Needs new fresh blood to start working again. Oh by the way, my lawn chair has 2 cup holders. And yes, the concrete bleachers should have been replaced 10-15 years ago.

    • Richard Olson

      I have never found/spoken to anyone opposed to paying their fair share for necessities such as streets which nearly everyone uses. I have however met/spoken to many citizens opposed to paying one dime for extras UNTIL the necessities of everyday life are fixed.

      The problem in Fergus Falls is that there are a class of people who CAN NOT tell the difference between a street used for everyday commerce and an ancillary upgrade for a leisure time activity.

      Declaring bleachers to be unsafe finds no purchase with very many citizens because they know from past experience that sham has been used to sway votes and minds to build a new school and an ice palace.
      Remember, the unsafe ground so a simple addition to the old school was unfeasible, until of course they wanted to build the ice palace where an addition could/would have been built. Remember the mysterious moving aquifer? The one that appeared above ground flooding a small portion of Freiberg Avenue, thus making the ground unsafe? The aquifer that disappeared once the leisure class decided they wanted an ice palace built on the very same spot that was unsafe for a cheaper addition to the school.

      And now, once again the bleachers are “unsafe”. These are the bleachers that became unsafe once the million dollar sports complex vote failed.

      It isn’t the average taxpaying citizen who gets to determine where tax dollars are spent Grayson, so stop blaming them and calling them cheap because they are reluctant to finance the extraordinary activities of a very few people.

  • Some Thoughts

    Personally, I would prefer to see the football stands repaired at a cost of $100K-$400K instead of replaced for Masten’s estimated cost of $750K to $1M. Certainly some accommodation for handicap accessibility can be figured out at a reasonable cost–or is there something wrong with using the current plan of being on the track by the football field? Best seats in the house in my opinion!

    What I don’t understand is how a year ago, when the outdoor facility referendum was being pushed, for $1.2M, the football field upgrade would have included bleachers, irrigation, lighting, sound system, fencing, scoreboard, goal posts, turf and a press box and now $1M would just get us new bleachers?

    My son played Otter football as well as college football at M State here in Fergus Falls. Have you seen the M State bleachers? It is small section of aluminum bleachers. We happily brought our lawn chairs to every game to watch our son play. So did grandma! No complaints–just happy to watch the kid play.
    Memories of my son’s games–and we went to all of them–no matter where he played, home or away, are of the game highlights, my son’s love of the game, his teammates/friends, hospitality of the other team (not their accommodations), and the WEATHER we withstood so we could be there in support.

    The stories that will be told of football games are of those types of memories–not how grand our football bleachers are.

  • abby

    I like to watch my kids play also, but I’d rather the city fixed the roads. I’ve already spent $800.00 on a water pump plus my taxes so I think I pay my fair share. 2 years ago I spent $1679.99 on one new strut because of the pot holes on Vernon.

    I’ve never seen anybody try to make a virtue of selfishness and self centered greed before, you take the cake, Krank. If my kids acted like you they would get a spanking and stood in the corner until the got some manners.

  • Richard Olson

    I guess I missed that part about accusing you of wanting to rebuild some stadium. Perhaps you could point it out to me. Or was that just some more of your “off the deep end” hyperbole and rah rah for the home teem of underprivileged sports fans who you hope will see you as their savior. “Hurrah fans, the great Krank has returned to his alma mater wearing the very same letter jacket he wore to the home coming”.
    For some people high school never ends.

  • krank

    You see Richard we may not be on the same page but we are in the same play book…I believe…If they would have been creative they could have built the Ice Palace on the north side of the bleacher area of the football field so they could have shared the concession area…Triple use and would have saved a bunch more money…but they needed it connected to the school so…so be it…arm chair quarterbacking….From what you wrote you know nothing of me..I never graduated from here..This isn’t the town where I grew up…Only one of kids have graduated from this school so far…my oldest two were home schooled….I’m no savior of this school and in fact I could easily go down the same road you are on because I am on a fixed income…But our Philosophies are very different…I believe in giving back…paying it forward…you believe in yourself….self centered…All this from trying to FIX a rotting piece of school history that this town, undoubtedly, has a lot of memories from…I know my home town has them…and our football team was bad…real bad..But we cheered them on just the same. What I am sick of are the crazy stupid cheap self centered ideas that come from the naysayers who because if it doesn’t benefit them…they really don’t want to spend an extra penny to help someone else…Heaven forbid that someone would have some pleasure from my little sacrifice…It must be tough living like that…bitter…and so selfish and self centered…I’d hate myself if I were like that…

  • Richard Olson

    Then you should hate yourself. Because YOU are the self centered selfish one. You are the one who wants scarce money spent on frivolous comforts that benefit very few people on very few occasions. I however want those same dollars spent on roads that virtually everyone uses on a daily basis.

    Fix the roads and our common infrastructure first, then if there are dollars left over and the voters agree then you can have your easy chair bleachers and a world class stadium, you can have 10 of them for all I care. You can have the taxpayers build a monument to your ego and self aggrandizing memory of your glory years with a high perch so you can look down upon the people who foot the bill so you can feel comfy cozy while enjoying your hobby.

    By the way, I don’t care where you came from or where you went to school. You’re here now, and apparently you’ve been here long enough that you feel comfortable insulting the senior citizens who live here. Keep it up, then stand in amazement with your mouth agape when those same senior citizens, remembering your insults, vote your next special project down.

    Your provincial mentality, selfish attitude and insulting mouth have not garnered you any friends, save perhaps among the something for nothing crowd who can thank you and your mouth, next time your pet project is voted down.

  • Richard Olson

    That you think so is proof of the opposite. I’m glad you’re on the other side…stay there.

  • kamso21

    Right on brother, Right on!

  • Richard Olson

    See what I mean?

    Off the deep end again and again and again!

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