New bleachers spruce up A-W gym


(Photo Contributed)
New bleachers in the Akron-Westfield High School gymnasium allow more handicap accessible spaces on both sides of the gym. The red and white color spots spell out A-W and show when bleachers are open or retracted.

AKRON — There’s a new look to the Akron-Westfield High School gymnasium.

In September, new bleachers were installed to replace the brown metal bleachers that had been there since 1974.

A-W High School Principal Derek Briggs said, “The bleachers we had were original to the building. Close to 15-17 years ago, we had them motorized, and that was a much cheaper option than replacing them completely at that time.’

After that length of time, they came to the end of the useful life for the motors for the bleachers.

Briggs said the school board felt it was time to replace the bleachers.

“The old bleachers were not real friendly when it comes to some of our elderly fans. the new ones allow people to maneuver around in. They are also much easier to clean,” he said.

The old bleachers had only two handicap cutout spaces, but they were at the corners, which did not allow good viewing for the individuals. If more space was needed, those attendees had to sit in a doorway.

“Now there are two cutouts on the home side and two cutouts on the visitor side, all wider, with probably room for at least six as opposed to two before,” Briggs said.

He explained the school board has a facilities committee which keeps a list of smaller projects that they want to continue to take care of and the bleachers were on that list.

“They have been on the list for a few years and it was decided by the board that this summer they would be replaced,” Briggs said.

Enter the COVID-19 pandemic.

The board made that decision at the end of March and paperwork to get the bleacher confirmed was sent off at the beginning of April.

“That paperwork confirmed the bleachers were supposed to be here in July. When we got that confirmation, we actually had our other bleachers taken out early because we weren’t in school.

“Once we got to the summer, the company let us know that the bleachers would not be here until probably maybe August or September, because they were pushed back because of COVID-19,” he said.

“So we waited and waited and for most of the summer we were in touch with the manufacturer to see when they would be ready. The third week of August we were told they would be here in the middle of September and they did arrive about that time,” Briggs said.

By Sept. 22, the new bleachers were installed and ready to use.

“Seating capacity is less, as we did lose one row, these are seven rows high, because these are a little bit deeper at each level. The others had eight rows. With that and additional walkways on the side, we probably lost about 100 seats,” Briggs said.

The new bleachers, while predominantly black, also add some red and white splashes of color to the gym.

Total cost of the project was $83,093, which included the bleachers, removal of the old bleachers, and electrical work needed for the new ones.

The district used Physical Plant & Equipment Levy (PPEL) dollars to pay for the project.

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