With kickoff for the high school football season just weeks away, fans heading to Oak Ridge's Blankenship Field will be greeted by a new set of stands.
Maintenance crews have laid down the gradework. Now, it's up to a contractor to put together the actual bleachers. While the home stands are in proper working order, it's the visitor's bleachers that needed some work. That's because they were deemed to be a danger to spectators over the years. Now, school officials believe those concerns should disappear.
"It feels good to have a project of this stature and this type completed. We have been looking for a long time to get these bleachers revitalized and we hope to have a great season here," said Allen Thacker, the Maintenance Supervisor for Oak Ridge Schools.
According to Thacker, the old bleachers were built around 1953, and were built using temporary structures like what circuses use when they come into town.
The new bleachers will be safer because they will be anchored to the ground. And the bleachers aren't the only upgrades planned at Blankenship Field.
The school also plans renovations soon to the stadium's parking lot.
"Following this year, the city and the schools have collaborated for some new designs for the parking lot here at Blankenship Field," said Thacker. "The city's parking lot below here is going to be remodeled along with a revitalization of the Jackson Square area."
The City of Oak Ridge will be taking on that project. City manager Mark Watson said the city has set aside $250,000 for the remodeling.
Right now, the lower parking lot meets American Disabilities Act requirements through parking up near the field, but the renovations will create a new and improved accessible parking lot. The project is still in the planning phase, and isn't expected to be ready until the 2015 season.
As for the opening kickoff for visiting fans, they will have a place to stand come the first game of the season, August 29th.