Whitney Field has a new set of home bleachers — complete with improvements and upgrades. But due to a scheduling problem, they won’t be available for Week 1 of the football season.
As of press time, the new bleachers still needed to be inspected by Richland County authorities.
“Yes, they need (to be) inspected and no, it’s not going to be completed before (Thursday’s) game,” Norwalk City Schools Superintendent George Fisk said.
The Norwalk Truckers host the Willard Flashes in their first Sandusky Bay Conference, non-division game Thursday night. The St. Paul Flyers will host Sandusky St. Mary on Saturday.
Even though the bleachers won’t be ready, the school has a plan.
“We are moving smaller temporary bleachers from around the district to accommodate the fans,” Fisk said.
The district will use smaller bleachers used for tennis, baseball and softball. Norwalk High School Principal Brad Cooley said as of late Wednesday afternoon, the plan was to have the Truckers fans sit in bleachers on the straightaway portion of the track near the corners and the Willard fans will be in the visitors bleachers.
Josh Schlotterer, NHS director of student of activities, confirmed the situation.
“Due to a couple of project delays and not being able to coordinate the inspection of the bleachers with the Richland county building inspector, we will be unable to seat spectators in our home bleachers. However, our school and St. Paul (have) come together to address the issue and get temporary bleachers in place for our game tomorrow night. Home seating will be on bleachers on the track, while visitors will be seated as usual,” he said via email.
Fisk was asked why the bleachers weren’t inspected in time.
“Richland County is responsible for the inspection and we were unable to coordinate the completion of the bleachers with their inspection schedule. We knew it would be a tight window, based upon a couple project delays, but we were not able to work it out,” the superintendent said.
“Fortunately, our city school and St. Paul communities are coming together again to address the issue and get the temporary seating in place of our games this weekend. Both of our schools are fortunate to have a strong partnership for the children of Norwalk.”
Truckers coach Chris MacFarland declined to comment on the situation.
Richland County authorities and Norwalk Catholic School President Dennis Doughty could not be reached for comment.
The new bleachers were the first stop for the school board’s annual tour of the district buildings Monday.
The upgrades to the bleachers include: New all-aluminum decking, additional brace supports, new stairs and a handicapped-accessible ramp near the concession stand, full handrails from the bottom of the bleachers to the top, new fencing at the top and a wider walkway in front of the first row.
Previously, the only access to the concession side of the bleachers was the handicapped-accessible ramp, which held only about four wheelchairs. The wider walkway will hold as many as 12 wheelchairs.