Blair Community Schools officials have held concerns about the Krantz Field press box for at least five years.
Having stripped out the facility's top floor as apart of ongoing renovations, they've discovered those concerns were more than warranted. Rotten plywood and two-by-fours are easily apparent on the east side of the building, which faces the football field.
“It's a little bit worse than we thought,” Blair High School principal Tom Anderson said Thursday during a brief tour. He's transitioning to a new role as BCS executive director of operations with the upcoming retirements of school officials Rick Brant and Brian Brown.
While projects to build a new press box in recent years were delayed, rising construction costs recently reshaped BCS' plans. Instead of building a new facility, with costs reaching a previously reported estimate of $280,000, officials opted to refurbish the existing press box at a lower price.
Despite water damage — which also appears on the press box ceiling — being a bit worse than expected, Anderson said most of the necessary work is already figured into the recently established renovation plans. He noted that the installation of “garage-style windows” facing the field, for instance, will take care of the rotten wood that currently encases the existing windows in that direction.
The project plans also call for floor and ceiling work, the addition of rooms for coaches and media in the existing space, and windows facing the east so the pole vault and long jump pits are visible next track season. A new door to the west, and an outdoor staircase, are also in the works.
Anderson said if projected costs hold true, the Blair Bear Backers Club will be able to cover the expenses “100 percent.” The volunteer organization's mission is “to provide in-kind and financial support to Blair High School athletics and activities,” according to its website.
Anderson said the Bear Backers would be able to foot a $100,000 to $110,000 bill for the press box renovations through its fundraising efforts, which include trivia nights, golf outings and partnerships with local gas stations. The club, which the principal said deserves a lot of credit, is also responsible for the digital monument sign that stands alongside Jackson Street next the BHS student parking lot.
Anderson said press box upgrades will improve safety when completed, but will also make the space more functional when activities return to Krantz Field. Time is always a concern, but the principal's hope is that the project will be completed well before football season.
“I'm definitely excited,” he said.