By Steve Ruman
One of the Valley’s most storied high school football stadiums is about to receive a major facelift.
The Niles Board of Education recently approved a proposal which calls for the demolition of the visitors stands at Bo Rein Stadium. The board voted 5-0 in favor of the proposal, citing safety concerns in connection with a new high school which is currently being built directly behind the east side stands.
The new school is scheduled to open in early April. The top of the visitor stands and an attached press box is located within several feet of the school.
“It came down to safety,” said board president Tony Perrone. “We had concerns of people accessing the roof of the high school from the stands, or people throwing objects from the stands onto the school.”
Mike Coates Construction, which is building the new school, will handle the demolition process. The cost is estimated to be $130,000.
“We explored other options, such as removing the top portion of the stadium, but the plans just weren’t feasible,” Perrone said. “Because of the way the stadium is constructed, and because of its current poor condition, it would be too costly to renovate what we already have.”
Bo Rein Stadium was originally built in the 1930’s. The home side was renovated and expanded in 1966. Four years later, the visiting stands was expanded to its current state. Each side seats approximately 4,900 fans.
Perrone and Niles superintendent Frank Danso both said they expect the demolition to take place prior to the start of the 2013 football season.
“We viewed this as an urgent necessity at the board meeting,” Danso said.
Danso said he expects the bleachers to be replaced this summer, “but we’ve had no formal discussions on the matter.”
Ironically, the initial design of the new high school called for the demolition of the visiting stands. The structure was to be replaced with bleachers which would have seated approximately 2,300 fans. This would have provided proper space for the school to be built as originally planned.
Because the plan was part of the buildings project, the cost of the demolition would have been absorbed by the state.
Claiming that it was against the wishes of the community, the school district voted against the move. As a result, architects were forced to re-design the school, delaying construction by months.