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Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)

OAK RIDGE - Visitors to Jack Armstrong Stadium, the home of the Oak Ridge High School Wildcats football team, will have a place to sit and cheer this fall.

For a while, that was a bit uncertain at least for early games next season.

Oak Ridge Board of Education members have approved the lower bid on the construction of a new set of bleachers to replace visitors' grandstands built decades ago.

"There was not a whole lot of choice," school board member Angi Agle said of the board's decision Monday. "If we delayed at all, it gets more expensive."

Then there's the hurry-up schedule. The first home game is Aug. 29.

Construction by the Dant Clayton Corp. of Louisville, Ky., will begin soon. That firm's base bid was $523,940.

The school board will dip into its rainy-day fund to pay for $454,000 of the project.

The city is being asked to chip in an estimated $69,000 to construct a handicapped ramp to go from the stadium's main parking lot up to the track that encircles Blankenship Field.

Members of the school's athletic department and booster club at a recent City Council meeting requested city help. No funding decision has been reached.

School maintenance workers have already dismantled the original bleachers. The latest annual inspection deemed them in a deteriorated condition and dangerous.

The new grandstand will be much smaller. The original bleachers could seat 3,400 fans. The new stands will have room for 2,000 people. Officials said that should still be enough to seat a typical rival squad's visiting supporters.

There was an alternate quote of $40,000 to include upgrades to the "Wildcat Walk," the set of concrete steps next to the stadium's home seating area, where it's traditional for squad members to descend and take the field.

That option wasn't included in the bid approved Monday.

March 25, 2014


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