Tuesday, August 7, 2012

CMS to move 9 high school football games due to damage to bleachers

Three Charlotte-Mecklenburg high schools will be forced to move nine home football games this season because of repairs being made to bleachers.

West Charlotte will move three games to Waddell’s stadium. West Mecklenburg will move two to Waddell. Myers Park will move four games to Memorial Stadium.

CMS spokesperson Tahira Stalberte said the system’s auxiliary services department annually performs inspections on wooden bleachers in CMS stadiums. Via email, Stalberte said a professional engineer was hired “to do a more intensive inspection this year, because most of the wooden bleachers are more than 50 years old.”

Earlier this year, engineers found structural damage in stadiums at Belmont’s South Point, East Gaston high schools as well as and and Cherryville high schools. Several other Gaston County schools had damage but to a lesser extent. Gaston County Schools spent more than $4 million on repairs.

Stalberte said CMS will pay $300,000 for renovations locally.

West Mecklenburg athletics director John Yewcic said the visitor’s side bleachers at his school have been removed and he expected to get temporary bleachers soon. Because the temporary bleachers would reduce seating capacity, he said the school might be forced to move more games if attendance and season success warrants it.

“CMS was proactive after what happened in Gaston County,” Yewcic said. “So many stadiums are getting old in this county. Something needed to be done.”

At West Charlotte, AD athletics director Gerald Herbert said a portion of the school’s visitor’s side bleachers were removed. The outside portions of the visitor’s side are wooden, Herbert said, and the center portion is aluminum. Workers recently removed the wooden portions a few weeks ago.
West Charlotte, like West Mecklenburg, will get temporary bleachers on the visitor’s side, but Herbert was disappointed that the home-side bleachers, which are wooden, were not replaced as well.

“They didn’t tear them down,” he said. “They put more wood in there to reinforce them. I’d rather them do aluminum than replace wood with wood.”

Herbert said the home-side repairs should be finished in two weeks, and that the school would was going to use the repairs to jump-start a total stadium makeover. He said the school would ask its national alumni base to donate $25 each to pay for repairs throughout the stadium, with a hope to add artificial turf on the field.

At Myers Park, workers removed the visitor’s bleachers and replaced them with temporary bleachers. Athletics director Rick Lewis said the temporary bleachers at his school will seat 387. The old bleachers seated 1,500. That forced the school to move four of its six home games to nearby Memorial Stadium.

“I’m sure we’ll take a financial hit,” Lewis said. “How much I don’t know, but we would’ve had more than 387 on the visitor’s side and once that’s full CMS will make us shut all the gates. We couldn’t play at home like that.”

Lewis said Myers Park officials asked about roping off part of the home side to allow overflow visiting fans to sit on the home side, but CMS security officials did not think that was a good opposed that idea.

Lewis said Memorial Stadium officials and CMS have worked with Myers Park to make the transition as easy as possible, including waiving the rental fee to use Memorial Stadium.

“The city has worked really well with us,” Lewis said. “We didn’t take on any additional costs. The only issue we’ve been at an impasse with is parking. You’ve got to pay $3 to park (at Memorial). We had a football meeting and we sold it to (parents, alumni and fans) as it’s a one-year thing to support the kids.

“But we’ve known for a long time that these bleachers have gotten into bad shape. Our alumni joke that these are the same ones from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. And they’re probably right. So replacing them is going to be a good thing.”


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