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Still Hoping To Play At Home

By: Todd Baucher, Stanley Jefferson, Jillian Risberg Email
By: Todd Baucher, Stanley Jefferson, Jillian Risberg Email
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UPDATED: 08/07/2013 5:00PM

Sources close to the Stadium Field fund drive tell WTAP News a group of local businesses raised a considerable amount of money and plan to present it to the committee at the first of next week.

The money will help move the project significantly forward ... with the goal of playing football there September 20th. That is the second home game of the season for the PHS Big Reds.


Update: 8/6/2013 6:15 P.M.

$100,000 by Friday...and another $100,000 by the end of next week.

That's how much Parkersburg High School's athletics department has been told by a group of businessmen can be donated for the stadium field project.

Athletic Director Lori Lowers says the businessmen were committed to making that goal happen, when told Monday night how soon the money was needed.

The Big Reds already are playing their first home game in Marietta, with their next home contest set for September 20th.

"That's not going to be their stopping point, but they're going to keep on raising money," says football coach Don Reeves. "Whatever it takes to get us into this stadium in September is their goal. So I feel it's going to be done; we're going to be playing here against Capital, which is our second home game."

There is still a "plan B" under consideration.

The school continues to look for other possible sites for Big Reds home games for the rest of the season, if the construction cannot be completed by mid-September.

Coach Reeves says he realizes $200,000 is an "enormous amount of money" to raise in less than two weeks.

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Update: 8/1/2013 1:05 PM

Parkersburg High may play all of its home games this season in Marietta.

PHS Athletic Director Lori Lowers confirmed to WTAP Thursday that the athletic department is in discussions with Marietta College about playing its home schedule at Don Drumm, if it is determined the Stadium Field renovations won't be completed in time to play any of the home football games there.

Don Drumm has already been secured as the site for Parkersburg's first home game, August 31, against Warren High School.

Lowers says dates for future games in Marietta would depend on games already scheduled at Don Drumm for Marietta College and Marietta High School, both of whom play their home games there.

Lowers emphasized there has not yet been a decision to move the remainder of PHS's home games.

She says funding is being sought to finish the renovation project.

Ryan Taylor of Pickering Associates told the board of education Tuesday that money on current construction would run out in August, short of what's needed to meet safety and ADA code requirements.

Update: 7/31/2013 6:20 P.M.

School officials-from the Wood County adminstration to those at Parkersburg High School-could not be reached today for comment.

But there reportedly has been talk about PHS playing the remainder of its home football games at Erickson Field...or even at Don Drumm stadium in Ohio.

People we spoke to Wednesday had difffering ideas as to how the football Big Reds should move on with their season.

"They share teams and go over there (to Ohio), too," says Mary Seaman. "But I think they're better off playing in West Virginia."

"I still say Parkersburg South would be the closest and best," says Matt Massey. "But Marietta would be all right. It's a big field."

" I'd say they go to Charleston," Tim Davis adds. "They'd play at a nicer place than they were playing."

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UPDATE: 7/30/2013 10:11 PM

Another update for the Wood County Board of Education on Stadium Field progress. But there's not much progress to speak of.

Project architect Ryan Taylor says money is running out. Contractors will complete the pre-cast and railing.

But without additional funds the Parkersburg High School football stadium will not meet code. And therefore, will be unusable for games.

The revamped proposal, what can be completed with the limited funds, is set to be done in early August.

"At that point it will not meet life safety code requirements. It will not have an ADA handicap ramp. It will not have a front row or stairs. And so a significant amount of money still needs to be raised in order to finish those items," says Taylor.

Board member Jim Fox adds, "There are other sports that are going to suffer at Parkersburg High School as a result of this. Actually, all sports are going to suffer as a result of this. So we need to be mindful of what are we prepared to do as a board to assist in that as well."

The stadium committee continues to take donations. The board has not made a decision on what will happen with sports programs that utilize stadium field.
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UPDATE: 7/17/2013 6:15 P.M.

With completion of a stadium renovation project in doubt, the Big Reds are already playing their first game away at Warren High School, and the question is whether there will be any football this fall at home.

But is the Erickson All-Sports complex an alternative?

Rick Leach, Athletic Director at Parkersburg South High School, which plays at Erickson.

First, he says South has not been approached by PHS to play there this fall.

And people we spoke to had different ideas on the issue.

"It seems every other school that needs stadium things gets it," said Patricia LaForce, "and I think it should be the same for PHS.

"I'm not sure where they would handle the crowd for a PHS game," said Tim Hart, "but Erickson would be the best alternative right now."

Leach says the issue South would have with another school playing on Erickson's field...is the wear on the field's natural turf.

While Erickson has grass, Stadium Field has artifical turf, and Leach adds, South's soccer team plays there as well.

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UPDATE: 7/16/2013 10:51 PM

The Wood County Board of Education has some tough decisions looming in the near future. A lack of funding for the Parkersburg High School stadium overhaul may cause construction to cease.

At Tuesday's meeting, project architect Ryan Taylor said money is a problem. The lack of funding is slowing down the contractor and work is happening out of sequence as a result.

Parkersburg building trades have been generous enough to donate their time and skills to complete the front sidewalk, railing and a few other projects. And while that saves money, it's still not enough.

Steel products take eight to ten weeks to ship. At this point, the funding isn't available to order those pieces.

It seems the project will stall some time near the beginning of football season should a solution not be found.

"They're asking us to come up with a plan that would eliminate items that would not cause any safety or dangers to participants that go to Stadium Field. We would have to have several people review that, State Fire Marshal, Board of Risk, lawyers. Unfortunately, I don't think we would be able to eliminate too much because all of those things have to be in place for fan safety," says Taylor.

He adds they will continue construction with the money they have. The pre-cast and foundation will be complete, but then other phases may have to wait.

PHS Stadium Committee president Earl Johnson says the community has been supportive and generous during this process, but they still need help.

Best case scenario puts the project $275,000 in deficit.

You can donate by contacting PHS or by visiting http://www.phsbigredsfootball.com/.

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Updated: 5/29/2013 6:30 P.M.

$700,000.

That's how much more money backers of bleacher renovations at Parkersburg High School will have to come up with to finish the project.

Earl Johnson, President of the Stadium Field Renovation Committee, says it can be done. He adds however, that $100,000 of the original $1.5 million goal is all that's been presented to the board of education so far.

But with the football team's first home game of the new season just three months away, the clock is ticking.

"We've had some feelers out, and we've talked to some other facilities out there we could use," says Don Reeves, Head Football Coach. "But plan A is for us to play at home, plan B is to wait until September. If we have to go to plan C, we'll start working on that when we know more, probably in the middle of June or July."

The soccer team practices in the PHS horseshoe, and Reeves says that area could be used as a playing field. reeves believes the football team's schedule for 2013 still could accommodate completion of the project.

"Our first game is with Warren, so we can move that game over to Warren," Reeves adds. "We're open the second week, away the third week, and home the fourth week, which really gives us an extra month. So we thought, with that extra month, we could get things done."

Johnson says a door-to-door fundraising campaign is already set for next month. The committee plans to step up its efforts to raise the additional money. But the mountaintop summit just became a little higher.

Parkersburg Catholic High School also plays its games at Stadium Field.

We could not reach people there for comment Wednesday.

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Updated: 4/25/2013 7:30 P.M.

The transformation of Parkersburg High School's Stadium Field seats is a step closer.

Crews Thursday began cutting into the seats which will be demolished and replaced this summer.

PHS Athletic Director Lori Lowers tells us the actual demolition is expected to begin next week.

School officials were told last fall about the deterioration of the seats.

A Marietta firm was chosen last week to handle the demolition project.

Updated: 4/17/2013 5:50 P.M.

A special board of education meeting Friday is the only thing standing in the way of demolition of the bleachers at Parkersburg High School's Stadium Field.

The nearly $217,000 project will, at first, involve demolition of the existing bleachers, which were found late last year to be deteriorating, resulting in the closing of Stadium Field. the removal of those bleachers will last through the month of May.

"We have told the contractors they will have access to the stadium, and will have areas that are controlled," says Project Architect Ryan Taylor of Pickering and Associates, "and no kids or the public will be allowed for safety."

A Marietta firm has been reccommended for the demolition, which involves the removal of one million pounds of concrete. That phase is expected to be completed by the end of May, depending on the weather. Then begins the replacement of the bleachers, which Taylor says involves the installation of 300 individual pieces. Bids for that project are to be opened at the end of April.

"Once that is awarded, on May 14th," Taylor says, "we can begin installing concrete on top of all of the girders and columns, and it will start looking like a stadium again. And that will happen in June and July. The goal is very fast-paced. They have expectations for the stadium to be back in operation by the start of football season in late August."

The board's special meeting is to begin Friday night at 6:30.

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UPDATE: 4/9/2013 10:13 PM

Pickering Associates is handling the project at Parkersburg High's Stadium Field.

There's been a lot of interest in the project, including 17 contractors and 5 demolition companies.

Now it's about hammering out the details in order to award a bid.

Around May 31st, the stadium will be a skeleton of what it is now.

"This is a total rehab of the facility. So what you would see is the only thing left there would be the perimeter walls and the concrete columns and girders. Everything else will be taken out. So we're starting from new. We're doing a complete structural repair of this facility," says Pickering Associates Ryan Taylor.

The Board of Education is expected to award a demolition bid on April 16th. Two other bid packages for precast and general construction will be awarded May 14th.
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UPDATED: 2/28/13 at 10:12 a.m.

The Wood County Board of Education gave the green light to Stadium Field at Tuesday's meeting, earmarking $700,000 for renovations with the goal to open this fall.

It was an overwhelming decision for students, coaches, faculty and Parkersburg High School as a whole.

"I think it blindsided us when it was condemned and I think it was the right thing for the board of education to step up and say they will assist us in funding the renovation of the field," says Joe Carrico,
with the PHS Stadium Committee.

Not everyone agrees.

"I'm not satisfied that we were treated fairly," says Rick Bush, president of the Parkersburg South Erickson All-Sports Facility Committee. "I think we should have left there last night with $100,000 to fix our track."

Bush says it isn't the end of the world, but he's very disappointed with the board's decision.

"That's my first reaction, that's a selfish reaction," he says. "I'm also very happy that they saw fit to get some money to Stadium Field. We don't want to do without Stadium Field, even for a season, if it can be helped."

Who should maintain a stadium when it's built? Bush says he thinks it falls on the school board and the administration.

Those who spoke Tuesday included PHS football player Chandler Hamilton, whose impassioned appeal of growing up with the stadium was lost on no one.

"It's everything," Hamilton says. "If we're gonna play there, we're gonna to have to put the work in."
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Wood County Board of Education Approved Parkersburg High School Stadium Committee's request for funding on repairing Stadium Field. PHS will receive $700,000 to get the project rolling.

Students, coaches, faculty and the community of Parkersburg High School got the decision they hoped for at the Wood County Board of Education meeting Tuesday night.

A happy group of athletes cheered after the board of education approved the stadium committee's request for funding.

The board unanimously approved $700,000 to get the project rolling but there's more to it. The total cost is $1.3 million.

"We'll be into a huge fundraising campaign to raise the rest of the money. We'll have to do this in a two phase project, we'll do the press box side hopefully, we'll start that in the next six weeks and have that done by the end of August," said PHS Stadium Committee Member, Joe Carico.

The stadium committee says they're also are planning on repairing the visitors side of the field sometime next year.


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