WEST LAFAYETTE – The start of the high school football season is around the corner, and when that time comes, Ridgewood High School will have a newly renovated football stadium.
The stadium, which is still undergoing construction, will have a new press box, bleachers that will accommodate 1,300 fans, and about 255 new movie theater-style seats. Still to be installed are a new scoreboard and a new entranceway for Ridgewood fans.
Instead of the normal bench seats that also were installed, the first reserved seats for season ticket holders will be the 255 black movie theater-style seats.
All of the renovations are expected to be finished by Aug. 1.
“I’m happy for the community,” head football coach John Slusser said. “Every time you get something like that, it shows pride in the community and kids too.”
The renovations and other maintenance are estimated to cost $688,000, Ridgewood Local Schools Superintendent John Marks said, and is funded by the school district.
Flecto LLC, of Zanesville, is the main contractor, with Hilscher-Clark Electrical Co., of Coshocton, completing the electrical work.
The stadium was originally built in 1969, and featured new goalposts, bleachers and a press box. It was last renovated in 2001, bringing in new bleachers and lights to give the field a new look.
The idea for the new renovations came last summer after MKC Associates inspected the bleachers, telling the school board it was the last time the bleachers would pass inspection because of structural issues with the cement.
“Not to scare anybody, but the time was coming,” Marks said of the renovations. “We could have retrofitted those bleachers and had a problem of possibly having to do further repairs as it continued to deteriorate.”
The construction on the stadium began in mid-April and, despite the recent rain the project, should be completed on schedule.
The unveiling of the renovations has not been scheduled, but the district is considering the first scrimmage against Danville on Aug.21 or the season opener on Aug. 29.
Slusser believes the renovation will put them on par with the other schools in the district.
“All of our facilities are pretty nice. We have some of the best schools, our baseball facility is one of the best in the state, but our football stadium has kind of fallen behind,” he said. “I think they did a wonderful job.”
Although the renovations have changed the stadium layout, Marks said, the season tickets will be distributed normally.
It’s been a big summer for Ridgewood athletics — a state track championship and the stadium renovations — all leading up to football season in August.
“Here is the bottom line: We still have to win football games,” Slusser said. “It will be exciting the first night, but if we don’t win, there won’t be many people sitting in those seats.”