To Replace or To Renovate: Outdoor Bleachers & Grandstands


This time of year we receive a lot of questions and Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for new indoor Telescopic Seating or Outdoor Bleachers and Seating so we thought we would add some food for thought on replacement versus renovation.

Part 2: Outdoor Bleachers & Grandstands

Where do I start?
For Outdoor Bleachers and Grandstands, you start in the same place you would if you were inside the gymnasium: An inspection. This will give you insight overall on your equipment. If visually, you know your bleachers are not safe, but you’re not quite ready for new – an inspection will evaluate the foundation and the structure pointing you in the direction of renovations and upgrades.

If your concrete foundation are deteriorating, this must be addressed first. Can the concrete be repaired? Is the foundation sinking? This will be noticed up above by if all the seating plank are straight and level.  If there are dips and waves in you decking or seating, then the foundations need to be shored up. This will be explained in a good inspection.

Also included, reviewing the metal understructure. Is rust present? Then it needs to be removed and the exposed steel painted. This also will be noted in an inspection.

Typically, if an extensive amount of foundation and understructure work needs to be done then consider total replacement.

What is the end goal?
Is overall safety your number one goal? (Ahem, the answer is always yes). But seriously, if you’re looking at the overall project from a safety standpoint, you’ll want to be sure you are fully aware of code compliance when it comes to renovations and upgrades.

A good inspection will reveal any safety concerns with the most common being the 4-inch sphere rule, closing off all openings in your bleachers that do not prohibit the passage of a 4-inch sphere, including ensuring your guard rail fencing is properly secured.

Replacing wood planks with aluminum is easily done and cost effective. However, if you are changing seats, adding aisle-ways, rails, etc. you need to take into consideration that your modifications must meet code compliance of a “new” structure.

Other goals might include a larger seating capacity, ADA seating options and access, or a pressbox.  Again, it all goes back to the structure.

What are your “Creature Comforts”?
Maybe you’re looking to add a VIP section with Perma-Cap or backrests to enhance the fan experience or to show off school spirit and sponsor support through wind screens with logos on the end and back railings. You do have options, make sure you’re asking about everything out there.

What are your Buying Options?
Aside from the most common buying option, purchasing with delivery and installation. You do have some additional options to consider.

Depending on the size of your bleacher, the owner (Boosters) can install/assemble with a factory trained installer as a supervisor. Should you decide take on this task, be sure you have your bleachers inspected at the end of installation (again, code compliance) by a qualified person so that you are sure they are safe for their first fan experience.

If it is a renovation you’re looking at, be sure to bring in someone that is qualified and familiar with code compliance. Remember, there is no such thing as “grandfathered” when it comes to bleachers. Any and all upgrades must follow code compliance as if it was a new structure.

No matter what you choose, be sure that you have a maintenance plan. The ebb and flow of the seasons (especially in Ohio!) have an impact on outdoor bleachers with expansion and contraction of aluminum and/or steel that can loosen hardware and sometimes cause end caps to come loose. End caps should all be attached to the planks with hardware to eliminate the sharp edges of the aluminum planks. You want to check for loose hardware periodically because it’s what holds your structure together. Missing bolts in the right spot can weaken the structural integrity.

Want more information? Contact Us