HHS, DHS stadiums could get wider seats this year

Destrehan might also scrap plans for covered court after bids came in 30 percent over budget

June 11, 2008 at 3:03 pm  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

HHS, DHS stadiums could get wider seats this year
Next year, football fans in St. Charles Parish might have a little extra room as they settle in to watch Destrehan and Hahnville compete for the 2008 state title.

In what School Board President John Smith calls a “$60,000 butt charge,” the Hahnville and Destrehan football stadiums could get two-inch wider seats in time for next season. Both stadiums are undergoing a $1.4 million reconditioning project that includes concrete repairs, drainage improvements and more handicap accessibility. Neither one of the stadiums have undergone reconditioning in their almost 30 years of existence.

The plan also called for 600-feet of new seating, but when the seats were removed, they turned out to be in much worse shape than previously thought.

“When the seats were removed, what we found was that there was a much greater percentage of connection hardware and Z-Brackets that really need replacement prior to putting these seats back,” Project Engineer Danny Hebert said. “What we assumed in our original bid was that we needed 600-feet of new seating at a cost of $15,000.”

Because the seats were in such bad shape, it would cost $96,087.55 to maintain the existing seats. However, for only $58,669.65 more (for a total of $154,757.20), new seats could be installed.

“The current connection hardware is in need of replacement because the one thing you don’t want to do is replace a percentage of your seats and have to come back in five years and replace all the hardware again,” Hebert said. “Now would be a good time to address it and deal with it.

“What we’re recommending is that you go with the new seats.”

Since the new bleachers would be two-inches wider, it would decrease the space that spectators have to walk between the bleachers from 19 inches to 17 inches. Hebert doesn’t think that would be a problem.

“A minimum of 12 inches is required,” Hebert said. “I think most people would be able to walk through without other spectators having to stand.”

The School Board also heard from engineer Ken Zito, who is currently working on a plan to improve Destrehan’s athletic facilities. The project, whose estimated cost was $2.25 million, is part of Phase 2 of the board’s master plan for physical education and athletic facilities. The plans include a new softball field for Destrehan that will double the amount of seating that is currently available at the school. It also calls for new tennis courts, a multipurpose building for indoor  practice and improvements to the baseball field.

When bids came in at almost 30 percent more than the projected cost, which caused the board to reject all bids, Zito redesigned the project and removed the plans for a covered court. That court was supposed to be used by cheerleaders, band members and other school programs in case of rain.

That building alone was estimated to costs $600,000.

Since the project is going to have to be rebid, there was some initial concern that some Destrehan programs might have to travel off-campus to play next year. But Zito’s new plan would mean that only the tennis team would have to relocate, and since they have a majority of their matches at Ormond Country Club, it wouldn’t be much of a problem.

“Instead of having the softball team relocated because the field is not ready, I thought it would be best if we kept the existing field in place and build the new softball field during the fall,” Zito said.

The new plan calls for two phases, one that begins next fall and one that begins next summer. The first phase, which has an estimated cost of $1.9 million, calls for the demolition of the existing tennis courts and basketball courts. Then, the multipurpose building and the new softball field would be constructed. Work would also be done to the baseball backstop.

“The softball team would be fine and the work on the baseball backstop and dugout would be finished before Jan. 1 so that baseball would not be inconvenienced.”

In the second phase, which is estimated to cost $350,000, the existing softball field and dugouts would be demolished. The new tennis courts would also be built.

View other articles written Jonathan Menard

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