A Bleacher Procurement Project: Start to Finish | Part 1: Identifying the Need

Bleacher Safety


A capital equipment purchase such as a bleacher system can be extremely complicated.  Often, this is a once in a generation type purchase.  It is critical that such a purchase be done correctly to maximize the investment, but where do you even start?  There are numerous options to consider when you realize your current seating system is ready for an upgrade. We’re going to go along this journey with you as we take you on a 7 part series from identifying the need, to solutions, budgeting, delivery methodologies, funding options, installation & closeout/turnover.  We’re offering you a comprehensive guide for a Bleacher Procurement Project: Start to Finish

Part 1: Identifying the Need

McClain High School Before RenovationIt can be as simple as looking at your bleachers and realizing you don’t feel safe walking to the top tier.  Or perhaps the facility usage/programming has changed….but your gym hasn’t.  Maybe there has been an “incident” where patron(s) could not safely access the seating.  Or complaints from the community about antiquated, uncomfortable seating.

OK – You have now started to identify the need….so what is the solution?  The first step towards the solution is to clearly and comprehensively define the facilities current seating situation.  The best way to accomplish that is to through a comprehensive bleacher inspection.  An inspection takes into consideration and identifies all of the facilities needs including:

Note: Adding a sign to your bleachers does not clear you of liability!

Note: Adding a sign to your bleachers does not clear you of liability!

Safety/Liability Concerns:  As a facility operator, you have an obligation to provide a safe venue and safety should always be the #1 concern.  How do you define safe?  Often times safety is in the eye of the beholder, but just accepting a bleacher condition because “that is how these bleachers have always been” is a major safety/liability risk.  A good place to start addressing your safety/liability concerns is through a comprehensive inspection that thoroughly reviews all Ohio code considerations.  It isn’t necessary to update your bleachers with every code revision; however, revisions to the code are made primarily because of safety concerns.  For example, while it may not be “required” for you to add aisle rails, it may be of major concern when it comes to the safety of your elderly patrons. For more information on code compliance for new facilities vs. existing facilities, check out our Bleacher Safety – What’s Your Risk? Series.

Life Cycle:  A quality bleacher system should have a life cycle of approximately 30 years.  The key to this longevity is a good preventative maintenance schedule.  Many manufacturers, such as Hussey Seating Company, provide OEM parts for all older seating systems so you can continue to service and maintain your seating system throughout the years.  Annual inspection documentation should assist in identifying the vintage of your system.

Operational Issues:  Does your seating open and close precisely every time?  Does opening your telescoping bleachers require more than one person?  Are pieces/parts missing from your system?  Have you spoken with the actual system operators (i.e. maintenance staff)?  What about set up time…does it take three people all afternoon to set up a gym?  Annual inspections are required to assess the operation of the seating system and review of this documentation should assist in identifying operational issues.

ADA Accessibility:  Most facilities find that if they do not have ADA seating available, those with accessible seating needs are often required to sit at the sidelines.  This isolates them from the rest of the spectators.  Not only is this unfair, it may limit what types of events a venue can host.

Facility Usage/Utilization:  Facility needs change over time….has your seating kept up?  Centerville City Schools renovated their 1955 Cline Elementary School gymnasium in 2013 when they realized they needed a better seating system to keep up with the growing use of their gymnasium. Not only was the facility using the bleachers for students, it also hosted the Centerville Community during basketball season. Old manual units with wooden seat planks were becoming increasingly difficult to set up and tear down for each event and unsafe for patrons.

Spectator Experience:  Correct sightlines, comfortable row spacing, modern seat design, proper aisle placement and built in safety features are just some of the factors that contribute to the overall spectator experience.    

Team Seating & Custom Graphic Options

Team Seating & Custom Graphic Options

Revenue Generation:  Does your seating offer possibilities for enhanced revenue generation?  Examples include reserved seating, branding, logos, etc.  Modern seating allows for creative options to enhance a facilities revenue generation possibilities.





OK – You have now started to identify the need….so what is the solution?  This will be the subject of our next post….