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School Board weighs costly Trojan Stadium options

April 14, 2005|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Buildings and Grounds Committee of the Chambersburg Area School District will make a recommendation to the school board next month on what to do with the high school's Trojan Stadium, closed last month after a bleacher floorboard broke.

At Wednesday night's Chambersburg School Board meeting, the cost of repairing the bleachers was estimated at $1.3 million by Paul Taylor, an architect for Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates of Mechanicsburg, Pa. Replacing the bleachers would cost about $1.8 million and Taylor predicted that only the visitors section could be completed by football season.

"It was at our first track meet of the season," said Richard Bender, the district's director of facilities. A former student helping out at a track meet March 29 was unhurt when the board gave way, he said.

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"We've had several incidents over the years of broken boards," said Bender, who said 125 of them were replaced before the track season began.

"We have no idea what board is going to fail," he said.

When the stands were closed, Bender said the district went to the physical education and athletic departments, coaches, booster clubs and others with an interest in the 6,500-seat stadium to ask for a wish list for future improvements.

In addition to new bleachers, the list includes an artificial turf field, new concession stands, bathroom, locker room areas and lighting, and expanding the track from six to eight lanes. Architects estimated the cost of the improvements at approximately $6 million, but Bender said it could come in below that figure.

"My goal is I need the grandstand dealt with," he said. While the grandstands are closed, the track team is still able to use the field, although spectators have no place to sit, he said.

Taylor said the bleacher seats and concrete piers are in poor condition, although the steel frame is in good shape. He recommended the wood be replaced with aluminum.

If the board approves replacing the bleachers, Bender said it will have to include a ramp and deck area for handicapped spectators to bring them into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Taylor said the stadium's handrails also must be replaced to meet new codes and as many as 116 toilets are needed to meet code requirements.

Bender said he wants the Buildings and Grounds Committee to come up with a recommendation at its April 27 meeting so the district can start to design the improvements.

The directors of the athletic and physical education departments, football, soccer and track coaches and director of the marching band all said they favor an artificial surface on the field. Coaches said it could be used for all outdoor athletic events and practices.

Taylor estimated the cost of a synthetic surface at $575,000 to $650,000. Unlike the older artificial surfaces, which were hard and abrasive, new surfaces are now made of softer materials and have as much as 2 inches of rubber padding, thus reducing injuries, he said.

Track coach Bob Walker said he wants the track expanded to eight lanes to allow for invitational meets, but Taylor said that would require moving one of the bleacher sections back to make adequate room.

The district plans to build a new high school at a different location, but Bender said that does not mean the existing stadium will not be the venue for outdoor athletic events. He said the Gettysburg (Pa.) Area School District built a new high school and still plays at its former stadium.

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