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New bleachers make accessability a priority

New bleachers make accessability a priority

By Staff

McBride Field left the stone age behind this week as construction began Monday on aluminum bleachers designed to replace their concrete predecessors. The new bleachers are scheduled to be finished by Feb. 15 ラ the date of this season’s first men’s lacrosse game.

The need for the replacement stemmed from safety issues and handicap accessibility. “Our insurance company came out and did an inspection of the stands and the company determined that the stands didn’t meet any common stadium code at this point,” Assistant Athletic Director Justin Newell said. “So we presented that as a repair and replacement to the senior staff and got the money to get the replacement of it.”

Director of Campus Planning and Construction Steve Arnett said the slope at the top of the stadium exceeds what the Americans with Disabilities Act defines as an accepted structure. “In some cases, the handrails along the front are coming loose. The concrete is old. The rebar is exposed at some points and is starting to rot,” Arnett said. “The condition is not going to get better over time. It’s only going to deteriorate.” The Athletic Department put in a request for repair and replacement last January.

The decision to use aluminum for the new bleachers instead of concrete was made, according to Newell, because “it’s a lot cheaper to use aluminum than concrete and it can be done in a shorter amount of time so that we don’t interrupt playing seasons.” The new bleachers will be manufactured off site before they are installed.

In addition to the bleachers, the walkway at the front of the stadium will be elevated to improve accessibility by reducing the total vertical distance from the back to the front of the stadium. “If you start higher, there won’t be as much of a fall from the parking lot,” Arnett said. “The idea is the back row here will have 14 spaces for wheelchair access.”

Newell believes the new bleachers will be a significant improvement over the old ones. “I think it will greatly increase the experience of going to the games,” he said. “One part of it will have actual chair backs rather than all bleachers, so there’s an opportunity there to have a better feel. Two, there’s going to be bleachers that go up next to the press box, giving more of an enclosed feel. So when you’re entering the stadium it feels like you’re entering a stadium rather than just walking out into it. There will be a more designated section for visitors that will separate visitors and students a bit better. All of it will provide a better true game day experience.”

He also said while the College has not ruled out selling season tickets in the future, it has no plans to do so at the moment.

Arnett agrees that the updated bleachers will benefit the different athletic events on campus. “It’s more of an event if you have a nice environment,” he said. “I think there will be an excitement when we clean this all up. When there’s a new venue, everyone wants to check it out.”

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